Conveyor belt sushi sets up in New York when British chain Yo! debuts its New York City location next month. With nearly 100 locations, the New York outpost in the Flatiron (23 West 23rd St.) will serve sushi, sashimi, hand rolls, and up to 80 Japanese dishes by a conveyor belt that chugs along throughout the entire space. Diners can pick up food up as the dishes pass by their seats.
Several options from the chain’s executive chef Mike Lewis will be exclusive to the New York location, including sushi grilled with a blowtorch, a fried chicken sandwich with a fruity sauce, a “super-sized” shaved ice dessert, and a yuzu broth-based ramen.
The color of the plate correlates with different prices and the final bill is tallied based on the number of dishes picked up. Yo! will also offer a takeout option.
Sushi served on conveyor belts, also called kaiten sushi, is a popular fast food concept in Japan. The format first popped up in 1958 after restaurateur Yoshiaki Shiraishi lacked staff and sought an automated way to deliver food. It skyrocketed in popular because it made sushi more accessible and affordable.
Despite its long international history, kaiten restaurants yet to take hold as a dining style in New York. Places like Sushein, Genroku, Sakae Sushi, and East Japanese Restaurant offered sushi by conveyor belt, and all of them have closed.
Still, Yo! has been on an expansion kick in the United States. The company opened a location in Boston last fall, and it now has six other locations in the country, including in Tampa and Paramus, New Jersey. The restaurant in New York will open on Thursday, March 16.