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MISAWA, Japan — The whole experience felt unlike Misawa.

This was not a quaint sushi joint, where you could watch the chef shape the rice and spread wasabi, while occasionally calling out a special request in your most polite Japanese.

Misawa’s newest sushi restaurant, Kappa Sushi, is commercial and chain.

On a recent Sunday afternoon, two attendants waved orange wands in the parking lot. Inside, conveyor belts busily moved sushi factory-style from the kitchen past rows of booths.

The biggest surprise was the bullet train. Place a special order (in English or Japanese) on the touch screen at your seat, and a few minutes later, a train on a second conveyor belt delivers the goods. For Americans, the direct stop takes the guessing out of which plate is yours.

Now, about the food: Kappa is a trade-off between quality and quantity. The sushi was good, but not as delectable as my neighborhood sushi restaurant.

The selection, however, was much better, with a huge menu of dishes for both finicky and enterprising eaters.

I fell somewhere in the middle, trying some cold eel and fatty salmon sushi, but passing on the fried bean curd and ox tongue.

The salmon was tasty, but I couldn’t quite get past the chewy, slick texture of the eel.

My favorite sushi at Kappa was the rolled tempura shrimp. It tasted California-style, mild with a touch of mayonnaise.

Kappa is a great place for kids. Specially marked plates denote sushi without tongue-tingling wasabi. Hamburger patty with mayonnaise and fried octopus dumpling were big hits with my 4-year-old. The restaurant carries kids’ drinks and, for dessert, pudding, cake and fruit.

Best of all, Kappa presents an opportunity to try something new for cheap. Most plates are 105 yen — about a buck — with generous portions.

Raw octopus and horse mackerel await you at Kappa.

Kappa Sushi, Misawa City, Japan

Hours: 11 a.m. to 11 p.m., Monday through Sunday; doors open until 10:30 p.m.

Food: A wide selection of sushi, for adults and children. The English-friendly menu also includes some Japanese soup and noodle dishes, several desserts and fruit. Beer is also available.

Price: Cheap! Most plates are 105 yen; the restaurant accepts only yen, not dollars.

Dress: Casual

Clientele: Lots of Americans; family-friendly

Location: Head straight out the main gate from Misawa Air Base. Turn right at the second traffic light by city hall; pass through several lights, turning left at the first left-turn signal traffic light. Kappa Sushi is on the left.

Phone: 0176-50-2553

Web (in Japanese)

author picture
Jennifer reports on the U.S. military from Kaiserslautern, Germany, where she writes about the Air Force, Army and DODEA schools. She’s had previous assignments for Stars and Stripes in Japan, reporting from Yokota and Misawa air bases. Before Stripes, she worked for daily newspapers in Wyoming and Colorado. She’s a graduate of the College of William and Mary in Virginia.
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