I Finally Gave in and Tried Kura Revolving Sushi Bar, and I…

…would do it again because Kura Sushi has kaiten sushi down.

Living in Southern California for over a decade, I had not been to a kaiten sushi spot since probably my time in the SF Bay Area.

Kura Revolving Sushi Bar Noob

I have been to kaiten or “revolving sushi bars” before, but since this was my first time to Kula (they now go by “Kura,” wtf), I enlisted the “baby duck” aka Lilee to come along to get the feedback from somebody who is super chill about their food, but she had been here before.

Photo Description: the front of Kura Sushi Bar in Irvine at Diamond Jamboree (located next to 85c).
Kura is located in the Diamond Jamboree plaza, and if Irvine didn’t have this development, it’d be sad place to be.

The Kura Sushi we both went to, is also the very first of their restaurants which opened up in 2009 in the United States, in Irvine, CA.

Irvine on the Outside, Japanese on the Inside

Irvine has a way of homogenizing everything, so it was a surprise to see that when you walk in that it looks and sounds like (yea, “sounds like”) you are in Japan. It is as if they cut out the interior out of one of their Japanese stores, and was like you know what “f***k it, let’s just go with what works for Japan, and we’ll just drop our steez into Irvine.” Well, you know what, I am glad they did that, and I applaud them for doing that because it is all too common to see several other major Japanese chains who thought they needed to “Americanize” the experience which happens to the point that if I were to mention who they were, you probably would not even have realized that they were from Japan. The totally Americanized businesses feels as Japanese as Scarlett Johansson (her soul is so Motoko Kusanagi), but as for Kura, they come off straight out Japanese.

Photo Description: the conveyor belt with their bubble lids with the name of the rolls on top of the bubble.
That roll right there is $2.25, and the one to the right is $2.25, and so was that other one.

California, Texas, and You Know, Georgia

Kula (Kura Corporation) has over 400 locations mainly in Japan, but in the U.S. of A, they have 14 restaurants which are primarily in California. Kura is not a straight out West Coast operation because they have locations in Texas and they are opening up, in you know, Doraville, GA!? Wuh? How did that happen? I think it was that exec. again who had somebody say as a suggestion “how about Georgia?”, and he was like “hey, why not, das coo.”

You Have to Be the One to Initiate Contact

Walking in it is not immediately obvious, but there is a sign-in tablet. In Irvine, it’s to the left, so it is not readily apparent because it is not all up in your face like some of Lilee’s dates. The only way to know what to do is if you see others doing it because the staff was busy hustling about which is why on my visit, two dudes didn’t sign-in till they saw another group come in and sign-in. Once you do manage to get your name on the waiting list, they’ll call you out by name.

Photo Description: a cripsy rice nigiri sushi with spicy salmon with a small slice of jalapeno.
$2.25, crispy rice with spicy salmon, Lilee about to pounce.

“So You’re Telling Me Everything is $2.25”

Well not everything, but the majority of the items are $2.25 which is why they don’t have pricing on all the items.

Photo Description: Ikura sushhi (salmon roe). The green plate has a pair of gunkan sushi with a slice of cucumber.
Yup, $2.25 (if you caught on, you’ll see a pattern with their pricing)

All it Takes is a Tug, and It Is On

Once you sit down, you can start eating immediately. No need to wait for a starting bell, and you can start grabbing plates right off the conveyor/revolving belt (Lilee did just that like a pro). All you have to do is tug on the plate and the “sneeze guard” will pop right on open for you to have at it. Just don’t be that person to try it put it back because you pull, you pay.

Photo Description: the screens with the menu shown.
Ordering, checkout, and assistance and a tally of how much you can eat (Lilee can eat).

What is the Screen/Tablet Above the Table For?

If you don’t see what you’re looking for, you can utilize the touch screen directly above the table to order directly from the kitchen. The screen also acts as a display for the “bikkura-pon” game that is described below which involves counting the number of plates you’ve taken and disposed of.

The ball didn’t drop, but one of the guys got us one manually

What is “Bikkura-Pon

You might get that Vegas vibe here because every five plates you’re supposed to be eligible to win a prize (if you lose, it will feel just like Vegas). This happens when you start dropping those plates into that slot located on your table which almost also has that feel of dropping a quarters in to a slot machine. So if you have gambling addiction or are susceptible when encouraged to eat more, this place is going to be the dominant one in your new relationship.

Photo Description: the stickers won from the bikkura-pon game.
Lilee’s blinged out phone
Photo Description: aburaage pouches (fried tofu) for the inari sushi.
Inari sushi (fried tofu pouch)

No Preservatives or Additives

Like you’re thinking healthy as you bite into a mayo covered sushi roll, but if you are turning that corner on being able to bounce quarters off your abs, Kura has got your back by minimizing all those nasty, bad, bad, icky preservatives and additives. Kura claims to offer and serve up menu items using only organic products that have NO MSG, NO Artificial Sweeteners, NO Preservatives, and NO Artificial coloring for customers’ health and safety.

Photo Description: nigiri sushi (white fish)
Photo Description: white fish nigiri sushi with a small wedge of lemon.
Photo Description: saba (mackerel) nigiri sushi with minced green onion.

Nigiri Sushi

I do like the sushi at Mitsuwa market, so I was hoping Kura would be on par with their nigiri sushi. Unfortunately, I think the nigiri was some of their weakest offerings because the first thing I noticed was that the “neta” (sushi toppings) looked almost paper-thin. It looked as though the fish was planking the rice.

As for the most critical component which is the sushi shari, well, I was too thrown off with the toppings to notice.

  • Shime saba (marinated mackerel): People aren’t fans of mackerel, and if you’re not one, you definitely won’t like the shime saba here. If it were properly done, freshly marinated saba would have a smoothness and juiciness to the texture of the meat although the more you marinate it, the firmer and drier it gets, this was definitely the latter.
  • The seared flounder fin (engawa): there’s only so much flounder fin to go around, and Kura is doing it wrong. I really do love engawa because of the slightly chewy texture and the fat content when it’s seared for a bit because this is one of the best parts of the flounder, but I barely finished this one.
Photo Description: gunkan sushi

Yucky Ho

Who you calling a ho? Or well a yukhoe isn’t spelled out anywhere as to what it is, so unless you’re very familiar with Asian cuisine, you won’t know that it’s a Korean word which means “yuk” (meat) and “hoe” (sashimi/raw fish).

It would be great if Kura were to communicate that better because their idea of a yuckhoe gunkan is any topping served with a raw egg which wasn’t the most appetizing since my egg wasn’t raw (I prefer raw). Instead, it was slightly cooked through, so the texture was too firm for my liking.

Photo Description: makizushi or sushi rolls.
Photo Description: more makizushi with what looks like an eel sauce with avocado and most likely eel (unagi).
Photo Description: makizushi roll.
Photo Description: another makizushi sushi roll.

Rolls, Rolls, Rolls and Rolls

Oh, I know you don’t like them rolls when it muffin tops over your jeans, but how could you not love 1 of the 24 makizushi (sushi rolls) that they offer. Each drenched in varying tasty sauces although the only downside is that some rolls aren’t available at all locations. Although that probably won’t matter because the four or five rolls I had, were tasty enough for Lilee and me to be content…. well not till I finished off a slice cheesecake, and she finished off two slices (#beastmode).

Photo Description: mmmmmhhh yum, dessert, cheesecake.
Oh mmmmyyy, cheesecake, but too bad it was not green tea cheesecake.

All the Things Not to Do

A LOT, read the signs.

Kura Revolving Sushi Bar

Diamond Jamboree
2700 Alton Pkwy., Ste. 133
Irvine, CA 92606
(949) 553-0747
Yelp | Google Places

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