Remember the good old days when you used to spend hours building elaborate Lego castles or beating Tetris? Perhaps you skipped out on playing outside to draw up blueprints for robot companions because your human friends weren’t cutting it. Or maybe that was just us.
But if this description sounds like you, then you’ll be at least a little bit excited by the video game-inspired eating experience that is Kula. It’s a conveyor-belt sushi spot from Japan, and as you might guess, eating here feels a lot more like being in Tokyo than in the Highland Mall shopping center (which makes sense, given they have 385 locations in Japan alone). At Kula, your discussions with a sentient human are pretty much limited to a greeting and goodbye - the rest lays in the cold hands of computers, machines, and conveyor belts.
It sounds like a lot, but a meal here is actually pretty seamless (though not for those with a fear of A.I. cyborgs taking over the world by 2020). One conveyor belt is constantly revolving, and if something on it looks appealing, you open the “Mr. Fresh” (their term for the Snow White-esque chyro dome covering each dish), pull the plate out from underneath, eat, then dispose of your plate in a magic chute at your table. If you’re not seeing what you want, use the computer screen above you to place an order. A few moments later, the dish will fly at breakneck pace to you via another conveyer belt.
The plates are about $2 each, and the fish quality isn’t anything spectacular - it’s a low-budget, gimmicky version of sushi. The sweet spot is to order a little bit of everything and not overdo one particular type (you’ll start to get sick of the deep-fried rolls and not-high-quality nigiri pretty quickly). And to remember that you’re paying for a fast meal and endearing animations of happy cats dancing across your personal television monitor - not outstanding food.
After your fifteenth plate, you’ll be rewarded with a Poke’ ball-shaped trinket filled with happy panda stickers. By that time, the novelty of the whole situation will have worn off and you’ll probably be at least slightly nauseated by the sight of a never-ending merry go round of raw fish. But if you cut if off there, you’ll get out spending around $30. That’s a pretty good price for the weird, strangely-addicting experience you’re getting here. But you don’t need to pay it more than once. Or twice, if your failed quest for Majora’s Mask still haunts you.
Be wary of the many white rice-heavy rolls coated in deep-fried toppings - you’ll run out of stomach real estate before you know it. Balance them out with some of the plainer nigiri options, and you’ll be in good shape.
These doughy ice cream balls are a must on a hot Texas day.
Fried dough, ice cream, and lots of honey. Finish your meal with lots of these.