One of Japan’s favorite revolving sushi chains goes way outside the box, but has it gone too far?

While sushi is delicious at any time of year, aficionados will tell you that certain types of fish are particularly tasty in their special seasons. In the case of buri (mature yellowtail), winter is supposed to be the best time to eat it, since the fish bulk up to keep themselves warm during the coldest months and their extra fat makes them extra sweet.

Even within winter, though, we’d recommend right now as especially great timing for some buri, since you can currently get chocolate-raised buri sushi!

Choco Mikan Buri is raised in Ehime, the prefecture that occupies the northwest quadrant of the island of Shikoku. Ehime is famous for its mikan (mandarin oranges), and so the town of Uwajima raises Mikan Buri, yellowtail which have mikan oil and peels incorporated into their feed. In the case of Choco Mikan Buri, though, there’s not just citrus, but chocolate in the fish’s feed too.

Compelling a culinary concept as it may be, though, Choco Mikan Buri sushi isn’t something you can find at just any restaurant in Japan. It’s offered exclusively by the Kura Sushi revolving sushi chain, and so we sent our ace reported Mr. Sato to go try it for himself at the chain’s branch in the Asakusa Rox shopping center in Tokyo.

▼ Choco Mikan Buri is priced at 100 yen (US$0.90) per piece, and can be ordered through the touch panel with either the regular amount of rice (シャリ(通常)) or half (シャリハーフ).

Because of the polyphenol content in chocolate, it’s said that Choco Mikan Buri has a deeper red color to it than ordinary varieties of the fish. Mr. Sato didn’t have a piece of normal buri for a side-by-side comparison, but the slice he received did have a nice, appetizing hue to it.

Popping the morsel into his mouth, Mr. Sato could detect only the subtlest hint of chocolate in its flavor. To be honest, this was a blessing: fish with a tiny bit of chocolate is intriguing, but straight-up chocolate fish probably wouldn’t be a very pleasant experience. The citrus notes, however, were stronger, and altogether it was a very tasty choice.

However, Choco Mikan Buri isn’t the only surprising addition Kura Sushi has made to its menu recently. The other intriguing option that caught Mr. Sato’s eye was…

tempura cheddar cheese sushi?!?

Yep, those are blocks of deep-fried cheddar cheese served atop vinegard sushi rice. At just 100 yen for two pieces, they weren’t going to hurt Mr. Sato’s wallet, though he wondered what sort of damage this completely outside-the-box sushi creation might do to his taste buds.

The appearance didn’t do much to assuage his fears, but as soon as he took a taste, he found out he’d been worrying for nothing. The tempura cheddar cheese sushi tasted great, and the more he thought about it, the more sense it made. After all, the fusion cooking dish called doria, rice covered with cheese and baked in an oven, is extremely popular in Japan, and adding cheese to curry rice is something a lot of Japanese people like to do to. Really, cheese and rice go together quite nicely, and Mr. Sato can’t remember the last time something tasted worse when it became deep-fried, so in hindsight, it’s totally logical that this would be as delicious as it was.

The Choco Mikan Buri was specifically added to Kura Sushi’s menu as a Valentine’s Day seasonal special, but it’s still available. Still, considering that the chain regularly cycles new items onto its menu and kicks old ones out, if you feel like following in Mr. Sato’s footsteps and trying these two sushi innovations, we’d recommend not waiting too long.

Related: Kura Sushi location finder
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