Conveying Sushi

Sushi Nara is in the Arbor Square shopping center and has plenty of free parking.

Sushi Nara is in the Arbor Square shopping center and has plenty of free parking.

Mr. Tess and I went out for lunch yesterday to a “conveyor belt” sushi restaurant. Apparently it is the only such place in the Midwest. A placard with a list of ingredients leads a little group of plates with maki rolls, gliding slowly past our table… What fun!

Oddly enough, the rolls were all California-style with the rice on the outside. Most seemed to have imitation Krab meat, but the ones with tempura shrimp were very nice. Perhaps it was because a large party was just finishing up as we came in, and this was the middle of the afternoon, so then we were the only customers.

There are attractive booths for ordering off the menu, counter seating, and tables around the conveyor.

There are attractive booths for ordering off the menu, counter seating, and tables around the conveyor.

It really was fun, and
likely we’ll go back for some of the menu items.
Sushi Nara
4037 Carpenter Road (at Ellsworth)

Below is a summary from The Ann Arbor News review:

Attractive Japanese restaurant with a wide variety of sushi (and a sushi conveyor belt); a small, excellent selection of Korean specialties as well.
Hours: Monday-Thursday, 11:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. and 5 to 10 p.m.; Friday, 11:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. and 5 p.m. to midnight;
noon to midnight.
Closed Sunday.

The decor includes model ships, wood and glass fish, and that's a lighthouse behind the sushi.

The decor includes model ships, wood and glass fish, and that is a lighthouse behind the sushi.

Liquor: No.
Plastic: Yes.
Prices: Moderate. Sushi range from $2.50 for conveyor-belt plates to $12.50 for top-priced specialty rolls, with most made-to-order rolls in the $6-$8 range and nigiri (in two-piece portions) averaging $5. Noodles, teriyaki, katsu, $10-$14; salads and appetizers, $3.50-$14.
Value: Excellent.
Noise level: Easy on the ear.
Wheelchair access: Good, but most tables have a step up and fixed benches, which could pose a problem for patrons who cannot transfer from a wheelchair.
Smoking section: No.

Very cool model ship.

Very cool model ship.

The Bottom Line: A keeper. Welcoming service, good sushi, salads and great bi bim bop, plus the novelty of the conveyor belt.

And here are pictures from A2 News.

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6 thoughts on “Conveying Sushi

  1. There’s a place in Philly on the Penn campus called Pod, which has conveyor-belt sushi. It’s pretty upscale but seems to be doing well after several years. People like the novelty, I guess, as well as the food.

  2. As I said, the conveyor sushi was ALL California rolls, so that’s not the upscale part of this place. They bought the restaurant with the conveyor already there. Ann Arbor is a tough restaurant town these days. I think they are hoping to attract people with the cheap stuff. We will have to try custom made sushi and sashimi, and menu items to see what it’s really like.

  3. There is a great need for good restaurants in what is called University City, in Philadelphia. There are three universities in the vicinity, and Penn seems to be the hub. Lots of professors and parents of undergrads as well as university administrators want nice places to eat. If you give them pretty good food, they will come. They will have rather little choice.
    I hope the conveyer belt gimmick works if the custom made menu items are good. Buying a place with a conveyer belt already in place, sort of boggles my mind.

  4. Philadelphia! That’s where one of Mr. Tess’s “new” twin brother lives! He’s gone to visit a couple of times, for very short stays—so I didn’t go with him—so he didn’t get out to eat while he was there. I didn’t realize you were there!

    The people who put in the conveyor did not last very long in the restaurant biz! I never even tried it! The place now looks very elegant inside, and has had good reviews. But there are just so, so many restaurants in Ann Arbor. And this place is not close to campus; it doesn’t seem likely to become a “destination” restaurant. But there’s a big movie complex across the street and there are a lot of stores in that area, so maybe it’ll be profitable. Bring people in with quick cheap sushi, bring them back for dinner with good food.

    To make conversation, we asked the waitress where one would buy a conveyor belt, but it was her first day and her English was shy. Very cute!

  5. My younger son likes tuna. My older son likes kappa and kanpyo. I like my older son’s favorite foods.
    It is cheaper than my younger son’s.

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