The Perils of Sitting Next to the Japanese Couple at the Revolving Sushi Bar

There’s an outpost of a popular Tokyo revolving sushi chain called Kula located in the Little Osaka neighborhood of Sawtelle Avenue in West L.A. that I like to visit.

Imogen enjoying her salmon at Kula

Imogen enjoying her salmon at Kula

Every plate is $2.25, the quality is unusually good, and so you get a great sushi lunch for $12-$15. You can really go nuts and spend $20.

I usually get there when it opens at 11:30 a.m., and get my pick of the spots at the bar. I have a particular seat I like, second from the left, I’m not sure why. The savvy eaters take the seats at the far right end, where the plates of sushi first emerge from the kitchen on the conveyor belt.

The other day, I’d just sat down and was enjoying my green tea, watching the plates pass slowly by, when an older Japanese couple came in and sat a couple seats to my right.

They were not smiling, they were not talking save a few random phrases in Japanese. They seemed to have a steely sense of purpose as they surveyed the conveyor belt.

My adversaries, waiting for the best plates of sushi

My adversaries, waiting for the best plates of sushi

Meanwhile, I waited patiently. I would not fall for the California roll, egg sushi, fried calamari and other decoys the chefs were sending out — I wanted the good stuff. Then, in the distance, I saw what I had been hoping for — sea urchin, two plates of it! And sure enough, the Japanese couple swooped the plates from the line and dug in.

A few minutes later, another couple dozen random rolls passing by, and there was the next of my hoped-for quarry — sweet shrimp with crispy fried shrimp heads. But those too were intercepted by my nemeses.

My adversaries, digging into their sea urchin

My adversaries, digging into their sea urchin

I should point out, in the interest of full disclosure, that you are able to order anything you’d like from the waitresses. In other words, all I really had to do was flag down a girl and tell her that I’d like orders of sea urchin and sweet shrimp. But that would’ve removed some of the thrill of the hunt, which is what the revolving sushi bar experience is really all about.

So instead, I brooded and cast accusatory glances at the Japanese couple as I watched more things I wanted being grabbed away before they could reach me. If they had seemed friendly or looked as if they were enjoying themselves, it all might’ve been different.

A few minutes later they paid and left. I had the whole bar to myself. But I was now feeling uninspired, and nothing looked good to me anymore. I settled up, drained my tea, and left.

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13 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. pal-O
    Feb 03, 2015 @ 01:32:19

    You were hopelessly, helplessly outgunned and like Seattle’s last play of Super Bowl 49 outmaneuvered with no position strength. Our life opponents may crop up when you least expect them. They may be ongoing life opponents or in this case Seamus, just a once in a lifetime encounter. Take your lumps and better luck next time. What a great photo of Immy. Your kids are a joy to watch growing up!

    Reply

  2. timoirish34
    Feb 03, 2015 @ 01:36:56

    Too funny, SC! I too have been pulled in by the undercurrent of the revolving sushi wheel in the past–it’s more addictive than roulette. And of course, when I think of sushi, I think of urchin and sweet shrimp with fried heads, which I know are not the usual Anglo-American favorites. (My policy is that anyone who ever exclaims “Eww!” at any menu item during a trip to the sushi bar never is asked back.)

    In my youth, when I lived near Little Tokyo, I would sometimes pick up a platter of assorted sushi and a bottle of sake and later drop in on your father at work. I rank those impromptus among my favorite meals ever. I think he enjoyed them too.

    Reply

  3. andreathompson2
    Feb 03, 2015 @ 02:32:27

    HAHAHAHAHHAHAHAHAHAHA! That was hilarious!!

    Reply

  4. Mom
    Feb 03, 2015 @ 03:42:59

    Ahhh, the joys and heartbreak of competition

    Reply

  5. Cheryl "Cheffie Cooks" Wiser
    Feb 03, 2015 @ 04:53:43

    Greetings Sean, I was thinking as your Mom! In Florida the Oyster Bars are humorous unless you are the sap waiting for that particular item! I can relate. Best Regards, Cheryl

    Reply

  6. Michelle
    Feb 04, 2015 @ 02:42:25

    We ate at one of those revolving sushi restaurants a year or so ago in Birmingham, England (“no-go zone” and all, go figure!). Great fun.

    Reply

    • scolgin
      Feb 04, 2015 @ 17:23:07

      Sushi in Birmingham — that’s a long way from Tokyo, sister. I was having a sushi craving in Paris once… but the couple places I saw looked sadly lacking. I’m sure it’s different now. We are a bit spoiled with our sushi in California.

      Reply

      • Michelle
        Feb 04, 2015 @ 20:02:57

        I should have been clearer: I ate at one of those restaurants, but I didn’t eat the sushi. I waited for the edamame and other non-fish items to roll around. I’m not an idiot. 😉

  7. Jessamine in PDX
    Feb 04, 2015 @ 04:20:56

    As soon as I read the title, I knew where this post was headed! The worst is when you fill up out of hunger on the ‘meh’ rolls or tempura and by the time the good stuff finally makes it to you, you’re just too full to bother.

    Reply

  8. Trackback: Structural Crab | skinny girls & mayonnaise

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