The conveyor-belt sushi craze has hit Austin in a big way. Kula Revolving Sushi Bar celebrated the grand opening of its first Austin location in the Highland Village shopping center at 6929 Airport Blvd #125 (at the corner of Airport Boulevard). The concept has long proven a hit in Japan and various iterations can be found in California and Hawaii.
The airy and bright restaurant was packed within minutes of the doors opening at 11:30 a.m. Friday. The concept is pretty simple: you sign in via a tablet at the hostess stand and mark your preference of table or counter seating. Once seated, you can grab plates of sushi like seared salmon with Kewpie mayonnaise or salmon roe or seared beef or sushi rolls from the conveyor belt at eye level and have at it. You can also use the tablet at your seat to order other dishes, like yellowtail or tempura shrimp, and those come zipping to you in short order on an upper track.
Each dish comes with two pieces and costs $2.25. You order drinks (including sake and beer) from your human server. After finishing a dish, you slip the plate into a bin, and they are presumably whisked back to the kitchen. Once you’ve deposited five plates, you get to watch some Japanese animation on your tablet. After 15 plates, a toy drops to your seat. When you complete your meal, you hit a button and a server (again human, and very friendly in our experience) brings you a check. The differences I noticed between Kula and the ones I visited in Tokyo — the ones in Japan didn’t have plastic bubble covers over the plate and the dining experience didn’t feel as rushed.
Now, for some questions you undoubtedly have: Is the sushi good? Not particularly, from our limited experience of about six dishes. Is it a good deal? Unarguably. Is service prompt and professional? Yes. Is it fun and different? Yes. Is it review-proof? For sure.
I did a Facebook Live video on my visit today. Check it out below.