Conveyor belt restaurant chain restyles itself to fit the Harajuku aesthetic. 

Harajuku is famous around the world for its fashion-forward youth culture, where shoppers are always keen to try something new, especially if it’s weird, cute, and delivered with a pop of colour.

That’s why Japanese conveyor belt sushi chain Kurazushi knew it needed to add something special to its new global flagship branch when it opened in Harajuku on 9 December.

▼ The new location, inside YM Square Harajuku, has seating for 245 people.

Kurazushi has been adding a range of high-quality sweets to its menu at select stores around Japan recently, under the name “Kura Royal“. Seeing as Harajuku is synonymous with sweets, Kurazushi is now amping up its Kura Royal offerings with a special corner at the new branch called “Kura Royal Harajuku“.

If there’s one sweet that Harajuku is best known for, it’s crepes, and that’s what you’ll find on the menu at Kura Royal Harajuku. However, here the crepes are a little different to the ones you’ll find at other vendors in the area.

▼ The star of the show here is the “Sushi Crepe“, which retails for 380 yen (US$3.35).

This is the only branch of Kurazushi that sells the Sushi Crepe, so our roving reporter — and resident Harajuku expert — Mr Sato popped by to give us his honest opinion of the new dessert. The first thing that caught his attention when he walked in, though, was how beautiful the new branch was, with light wood panelling and individual booths creating a warm and inviting space.

Sliding into the booth that was shown to him, Mr Sato immediately navigated his way through to the desserts section of the menu on the touchscreen provided, selecting the Sushi Crepe. He also couldn’t resist trying a Marinated Iberico Pork Rib Crepe for an additional 380 yen, and once he’d placed his order, a notification popped up on the screen, asking him to make his way to the “sweets stall”.

The “sweets stall” turned out to be this brightly lit corner, which did kind of look like a stall you’d see at a festival.

Picking the sweets up himself added a fun element to the ordering system, and when he took them back to his table, complete with their handy stands, he was able to take a good look at their contents, starting first with the Marinated Iberico Pork Rib Crepe.

Peering closely, Mr Sato spotted something that made him blink his eyes in astonishment. There, in amongst the pork, cucumber, egg omelette, and lettuce leaf, was a mound of shari (moulded sushi rice)… that had been fried! 

This was definitely something he hadn’t seen in a crepe before, and when Mr Sato, tried it, it was crunchy, sweet, salty and vinegary — a good complement to the marinated pork. However, apart from the fried shari, there wasn’t anything else that made him go “wow” here.

▼ “This is the shari”

▼ Next up for Mr Sato’s perusal was the Sushi Crepe.

▼ This one also had a piece of fried moulded sushi rice nestled in amongst the other ingredients, which included a dollop of tuna mayo.

When he tried it, though, Mr Sato felt totally let-down. It wasn’t really like sushi, and it wasn’t really like a crepe either. It was kinda…somewhere in-between, in ho-hum territory. It was fun to look at and all, but for a crepe to stand out in Harajuku, the unofficial crepe capital of Japan, it has to look AND taste amazing, like the creme brulee crepes that have been drawing crowds in the area for years.

▼ This doesn’t look like a trend that’ll catch on in Tokyo.

As far as Mr Sato is concerned, the crepes at Kura Royal were lacking in appeal, both visually and flavour-wise, and that’s a real shame because he loves the sushi chain and knows they can do better than this. Just wrapping some sushi-esque ingredients in a crepe isn’t enough of a wow factor for the crepe aficionados of Harajuku, and Mr Sato reckons it might’ve been better if Kurazushi ditched the crepe idea altogether and stuck to some of the other desserts they do well, like parfaits and ice creams.

Still, it’s early days for the new Harajuku branch, so there’s a chance they’ll adjust the menu according to feedback in the coming weeks. And despite being disappointed with the crepes, Mr Sato’s day out at Harajuku wasn’t all in vain, as he was able to revisit his beloved pulled pork specialty store, which always puts the smile back on his dial.

Store Information

Kurazushi Harajuku / くら寿司 原宿店
Address: Tokyo-to, Shibuya-ku, Jingumae 4-31-10, YM Square Harajuku 4F
東京都渋谷区神宮前4-31-10 ワイ・エム・スクウェア原宿4F
Hours: 11:00 a.m.-11:00 p.m.

Images: ©SoraNews24
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[ Read in Japanese ]