Kura Sushi USA: Authentic Tastes, Anime Gacha, and More

kura sushi usa spy x family collab

If you enjoy sushi then you’ve likely heard of kaitenzushi, or conveyor belt sushi. Kura Sushi is one of the most recognized chains, with more than 500 restaurants in Japan. And for sushi lovers that aren’t in Japan, you’re in luck: Kura Sushi has over 60 locations throughout the US. We discovered a location over in Philadelphia and decided to take a trip. For research purposes of course! Here’s everything you need to know about Kura Sushi USA and how it compares to locations in Japan.

Authentic Japanese Kaitenzushi in the US

I’ll admit that I was spoiled during my first sushi experience. My first time having sushi (with raw fish) was at another kaitenzushi chain in Tokyo. So it’s safe to say I have high standards for sushi restaurants outside Japan.

Anytime I try local sushi restaurants, my biggest fear is how the rice tastes and feels. There’s nothing worse than biting into cold, undercooked rice. This is where Kura Sushi shines, as its patented Mr. Fresh™ conveyor belt system is built to keep the sushi fresh. No refrigerated sushi coming from the back, just freshly cooked and cooled to body temperature rice as the pros intended.

The conveyor belt experience at Kura Sushi USA is just like that of its Japanese counterparts. You order on a tablet found at your table, and minutes later your order arrives from the kitchen directly to you. It’s a fun alternative to regular sushi spots and allows you to order at your own pace and eat as much as you want, with each plate containing one or two pieces of sushi. You can also choose premade options from the bottom tier off the conveyor belt if something catches your eye. Each plate of sushi is $3.55, with premium items such as ramen costing more. A fair price for the experience in the US market, although the 115 yen (approximately $0.75) plates back in Japan are sorely missed. 

Everything you need can also be found at your table like soy sauce, wasabi, and chopsticks. However I swiftly noticed matcha powder and the hot water tap was not found on the table, a free option in Kura Sushi Japan. There are a few other small differences that only people familiar with locations in Japan may miss. Such as being able to remove the order tablet from its charging dock, different flavored soy sauces, a self-pay system, and hearing every employee shout “irasshaimase”. Although it was comforting to hear the Philadelphia manager make the experience close to the real deal.

And being the researcher that I am, you bet I checked the bathroom situation. I’m happy to report there are Toto Washlets–if you know, you know. 

What Can You Order at Kura Sushi USA?

The menu is just as long as the locations in Japan as well. There are some stark differences in the offerings, but they still have some Kura classics and standard nigiri sushi in the US locations. To appropriately compare, I ordered a few plates of my favorite menu items from Tokyo and a wild card menu item, the crispy rice with spicy salmon plate topped with a slice of jalapeño pepper.

My full order included:

  • Toro 
  • Umami oil salmon
  • Tamagoyaki nigiri
  • Umami cucumber salad
  • Garlic ponzu salmon
  • SPYxFAMILY ice cream Monaka (a delicious limited edition menu item)
  • Warabimochi

Everything tasted fresh and transported me back to Japan as the quality was extremely similar. Kura Sushi USA allows visitors to try Japan-quality kaitenzushi as well as fusion creations like the Tempura Philadelphia Roll (definitely not available in Japan). If you want to sample a wide variety of Japanese fare, you can also order a bowl of ramen or udon. Or try side dishes popular in Japan such as Kura fries, shrimp tempura, and karaage (Japanese fried chicken).

Dessert lovers have a selection of premium Japanese desserts, ice cream, and limited menu items. You can try traditional sweets such as warabimochi, a jelly-like mochi covered in roasted soy powder. If you want to try Japanese alcohol staples like sake, draft beer, and highballs are available, but they aren’t brought to the table via conveyor belt like they are in Japan.

The selection and taste of the food stands up to its Japanese counterparts and made this former Japan expat happy. Hopefully, we will see more overseas food options make their way to the US, such as shrimp tempura nigiri, Calpis drinks, and seasonal fruit parfaits.

What is Bikkura Pon?

Kura Sushi is also famous for its Bikkura Pon, a gacha machine found at each table where diners can win collectibles. When I went, there was a limited edition Bikkura Pon collab with SPYxFAMILY just in time for the new SPYxFAMILY CODE: White movie. The prizes that month included SPYxFAMILY acrylic stand keychains, magnetic sheet 3-piece sets, and lanyards.

Until the end of April, Kura Sushi USA locations were decorated with SPYxFAMILY banners, signs, and the Bikkura Pon game. Just like in Japan, during the promotional period a new anime or character collectible is available to win from the Bikkura Pon machine.

The criteria to play slightly differs between the two countries. The Japanese Bikkura Pon can be played after every five plates are entered into the collection slot. However, the prizes work just like a gacha game, after entering five plates you may have the chance to win a random prize, but a chance to play is not guaranteed. So there’s an internal competition to eat until you win.

In the US, the Bikkurapon works differently. Instead of five plates to win a chance to play Bikkura Pon, the US locations require 15 sushi plates for a guaranteed prize. This is an easy feat if you can eat 15 plates of sushi or go with a group of friends, but if you can’t eat that much then the gacha prizes may be purchased for the same price as a standard plate of nigiri: $3.55.

Visit Kura Sushi USA for a Taste of Japan

Overall, Kura Sushi USA meets my high standards of quality and is a great way to experience Japanese kaitenzushi whenever I feel nostalgic. If you’re missing Kura Sushi from your Japan trip or just want to try authentic conveyor belt sushi, you can try one of Japan’s most popular sushi chains near you in the US!

The collaboration with SPYxFAMILY is now over but a new promotion has started based on Dragon Ball Super which is going on now.