Chicago Shimpo
Kura Sushi Revolving Sushi Chain
Opens Restaurant in Schaumburg

• Kura Sushi, one of the popular revolving sushi restaurant chains in Japan, opened a restaurant in Schaumburg on November 9, offering Japanese food fans a new choice for fun dining in the Chicagoland area.

• The restaurant’s layout follows the chain’s format used in Japan, with booths set adjacent to the revolving food conveyer (called the “E-shaped” layout). Along with the counter seats, this layout is designed to accommodate both group and family customers and individual patrons.

• Each booth and counter seat is equipped with a touch panel for special orders. Aside from freely picking up a plate you like on the conveyer belt, customers can use the touch panel to place an order from the menu that they don’t see revolving on the belt. Once an order is placed, it comes fairly quickly on the flashing “Express Lane” that stops at the customer’s table.

• For kids’ pleasure, there is a fun game of “Bikkura-pon.” The player is to help the character “Muten-maru” that appears on the touch panel screen in his adventure, and then put the empty plates in the “Plate Counter Collection System” installed on the table in order to receive a prize. You must put the correct number of empty plates in the plate dispenser to get a prize, so pay attention.

• A system like this is designed by Kura Sushi Japan to offer an unique dining experience, but the chain’s operations in the U.S. has special features designed specifically for the U.S. customers. The menu includes a wide range of items from sushi to side dishes. Some of the interesting items are sushi that uses crispy rice (fried sushi rice) instead of regular steamed white rice, and temaki-sushi (hand-rolled sushi) that uses soy paper instead of nori (dried seaweed). In addition, side dishes are abundant such as tempura, kara-age, ramen and udon noodles.

• Kura Sushi in the U.S. serves food quite different from what’s being served in Japan so that it might as well be a completely different lineup, says Rina Watanabe, Marketing Manager of Kura Sushi USA, Inc.
• “We always put priority on the abundance of menu items so that anyone – from adult to child to the people who can’t eat raw fish – can enjoy dining with us,” Watanabe said.

• Kura Sushi was founded in Japan in 1977 by its President Kunihiko Tanaka, and has 429 restaurants in total as of October 2017, including 14 in the U.S. and 9 in Taiwan.
• The first U.S. Kura Sushi was opened in Irvine, California in 2009. Today, there are 10 restaurants in California, seven in Texas and one in Georgia.

• Kura Sushi’s strategy in the U.S. is to choose a location where Japanese and Asian populations are concentrated and where Japanese businesses are thriving within the local community, as well as an area that’s easily accessible.
• According to Watanabe, opening a restaurant in Schaumburg is part of Kura Sushi’s U.S.-wide business strategy. As the first in the region, Kura Sushi Schaumburg will be the yardstick for the company to access the business opportunity in the Midwest. There may be an opening in downtown Chicago in the future, depending on the performance of the Schaumburg restaurant, Watanabe said.

• At a Kura Sushi restaurant, all the staff, Japanese and otherwise, welcome customers with a greeting “Irasshaimase” in Japanese. It demonstrates the company’s desire to introduce Japanese culture outside Japan, not just Japanese cuisine.
• The Bikkura-pon prizes are of U.S. origin. In 2019, the company plans to create a new line of prizes that collaborate with Japanese anime characters, another way to spread Japanese culture.

• Watanabe herself is a bilingual who was born and raised in the U.S.
• “Kura Sushi offers a unique dining experience that no other restaurant can offer. That includes a unique dining space as well as food, and we truly want our customers to enjoy it,” Watanabe said.

• Kura Sushi Schaumburg:
• 1719 E. Golf Road, Schaumburg, IL 60173
• Tel: 630-283-0654

Newly opened Kura Sushi Schaumburg store

Sushi dishes are carried by revolving food conveyer.

Sushi doughnut

Ramen noodles, udon noodles, and other side dishes are also served.