Published by Angie. Last Updated on October 3, 2023.
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Kura Revolving Sushi Bar, a restaurant chain with over 50 US locations, now has a location in Pittsburgh's SouthSide Works. We had dinner at Kura recently and were delighted with the atmosphere and the variety of options available- from nigiri to maki to made-to-order hot dishes.
Eating here was an experience and just plain fun!
Kura Revolving Sushi Was an Instant Hit
In the first few weeks after opening, Pittsburghers went nuts for the revolving sushi concept. This meant wait times of several hours to get a table. But never fear, you don't actually have to stand in line or even be there in person to get on the wait list- Kura has its own app that handles the logistics of it for those who can plan ahead.
Once you download the app, you can open the waitlist section and see an estimated time to get a table. After you put your name in, you'll also receive a link via text message which you can use to see the wait time update periodically as you move up the list. When the wait time gets down to 15-30 minutes, you should plan to make your way towards the restaurant. You'll check in at the host stand and wait the remaining few minutes outside until your table is ready.
We used the app to get on the wait list on a Friday afternoon around 4:30, and the app told us the wait would be about 90 minutes to 2 hours (seating times before about 4 pm were virtually non-existant, however). We used the time to have a beer at Velum Fermentation, also in South Side and were over at the restaurant within just a few minutes as the countdown drew closer.
- Other recommendations for nearby hangs would be Acacia for cocktails or Pins Mechanical next door for duck pin bowling and other games. Lean into the wait and make it a full night out, if you can!
- Be sure to check the app early as by the time we got seated at just before 7pm, the wait list was full until the end of the night- roughly three to four hours!
After we checked in at Kura, we waited about ten minutes outside until our name was called for our table. We couldn't stop giggling with joy once we stepped inside and took it all in. The sushi conveyor belt serpentined around the room, with bar stools facing the belt on some rows, and 4-person tables adjacent to the belt on other rows. Touch screens for ordering were at each bar stool and table, and a robot was moving about delivering drink orders. It felt futuristic (although these types of bars have existed for decades in Japan) and kind of like we were on a game show or in a video game.
How Does Conveyor Belt Sushi Work?
As we sat down, a server explained to us how the process worked- and other than that, we didn't interact with people the rest of the meal (which could be a good or bad thing, depending on your preferences!). On the bottom row of the conveyor belt were plates like nigiri, rolls, hot rolls, gunkan sushi, a few salad-type plates, and desserts. There was a sign with a picture separating each type, so it was easy to tell what each plate was. Each plate cost the same amount (approximately $3.65 at the time of our visit), so the quantity of food varied depending on the type of fish or roll. Nigiri were typically two pieces, while rolls were mostly three or four pieces.
After gleefully grabbing your plate of sushi (the belt moves faster than you might think, so don't hesitate!) and devouring it, you deposit your plate into a slot at the back of the counter in front of you. The screen above your seat counts the number of plates you deposit, and once you have 15 you get a prize. There is also a series of cartoons that appear on the screen after depositing plates, and they tell a very funny story involving the theft of a recipe and the subsequent pursuit to get it back. It's so cute and so Japanese!
One of the best things about Kura is that if you don't see something you like coming around on the belt, want to try something that is seemingly always empty as it passes by, or if you want to order hot food or drinks, you can do that from your touch screen (for most items, at least). Drinks are delivered by a robot that plays bright and upbeat music, and other special food orders zoom to your seat on a second conveyor belt that's above the rotating sushi belt (hot food orders were priced between $5 and $10- the portions were also a bit larger).
We tried a massive spread of food, eagerly grabbing a dozen or so plates shortly after sitting down because we wanted to try everything. For nigiri, some of our favorites were the garlic skipjack tuna, umami oil salmon, seared eel with miso cream cheese, and juzu jalapeno shrimp. For rolls, our favorites were the red dragon roll, the Kura roll, and the spider roll. In a future visit, we'd probably skip over some of the other options and simply order multiples of these plates and enjoy it as one solid meal, but during a first visit trying as much as you can is a great gameplan.
In our opinion, the quality of the fish was quite good, but certainly nothing like a high end sushi bar- you are here for the conveyor belt experience just as much as sampling a wide variety of seafood after all!
We also tried some crispy rice plates with different seafood on top, and a few non-fish options too like tomago and inari. These were also tasty and a good way to switch it up from just eating raw fish. We also ordered a few hot plates, the gyoza and takoyaki. The takoyaki was a little doughy in the middle but had good flavor, and the gyoza was spot on with a crispy fry and a sweet-salty dipping sauce and balanced our raw sushi haul nicely.
To pay, you just have to ensure all of your plates have been deposited and then check out using your touch screen. Easy!
Overall, the atmosphere and novelty of Kura is probably a bigger draw than the actual sushi itself, but we are here for it. We can't remember the last time we experienced such childlike wonder during a meal the way we did here. So while there may be better and/or cheaper sushi in Pittsburgh, there isn't a place with an experience quite like Kura Revolving Sushi Bar.
Kura Revolving Sushi Bar is located at 415 Cinema Drive in South Side.
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