I’ve always been a little leery of sushi served via conveyor belt. While I tell myself that I don’t like the lack of personal service, the truth is that I don’t eat sushi often enough to recognize what I’m choosing. With a menu, at least I’ll know I’m not eating something I don’t think I’ll like (such as sea cucumber, which was described by a friend as the "least delicious" thing he ever ate). But it was almost 7pm and I was headed for the theater with a 7:45 curtain time, and I felt my choices coming down to Kulu Kulu or pizza. Since I can eat pizza any night of the week at home, I decided to brave the conveyor belt.
Kulu Kulu is certainly not out to impress you with its décor. In fact, it most closely resembles a launderette, with the washers and dryers removed and tables installed in their place. Plain white walls, harsh overhead lighting and a linoleum tile floor await diners. Other than stools or chairs around the conveyor belt, the only seating option is one of several rickety-looking tables, and those weren’t an option for solo diners on a busy Friday night. Service is limited to bringing a beverage and bringing your plates to the cashier at the end of the meal so your bill can be totaled. So far, not so good. I took a seat at the counter and began watching plates roll by.
Two things I’ve learned by cooking a lot are that really fresh fish smells like clean water (salt or fresh, depending on the fish) and that even the strongest fish will have a pleasant taste if its journey from water to plate is short. Judging by the taste and smell, the fish used at Kulu Kulu was impeccably fresh. My first choice (OK, it was the first thing I recognized) was a salmon roll, and it was excellent. The rest of the meal was equally good. The salmon was followed with salmon sashimi, a bowl of soup that contained two pieces of fried tofu and what I’m pretty sure was a tuna roll (it was delicious, so I can at least assume it was not sea cucumber).
As I was digesting and deciding whether to eat more or move on to the theater, a shrimp tempura hand roll came by. I couldn’t resist. The seaweed wrapping seemed a bit tougher than I’m used to, but the shrimp was perfectly cooked to crunchiness outside and tenderness inside. Had there been time, I might have even ventured something I didn’t recognize, as I was fairly certain it would be good. Alas, time and the theatre curtain wait for no woman, so I brought my plates to the register. The total bill was a little less than £11, not bad for some of the best sushi I’ve eaten in a long time.
Kulu Kulu has several London locations. This one is near the Piccadilly Circus tube stop, convenient for the theater area.
Hamilton Square, New Jersey
April 6, 2003
From journal Give Thanks for London!