Mr. Sato tries out some vending machine sushi from outside a branch of Sushiro.

Japan is a country known for its wide range of vending machines, but to this day there are new kinds of vending machines popping up that surprise even us. For instance, this unusual-looking vending machine that our crack reporter Mr. Sato spotted quite recently.

Mr. Sato spotted this machine outside of the Omiya branch of conveyor belt sushi chain Sushiro. Sushiro have started installing vending machines outside their stores so people can get access to sushi anytime they want, even after the store has closed. Mr. Sato was curious about what kind of sushi was available in the vending machine, so he went to check it out.

As he approached the store, there were banners outside proudly advertising the vending machine — “you can buy sushi anytime you want!”

▼ Mr. Sato found the sushi vending machine conveniently located next to a vending machine selling drinks.

The machine was decorated with the kanji of various types of seafood, such as 鰻 (unagi, or ‘eel’) and 鮭 (sake, or ‘salmon’). There were a few kanji that Mr. Sato was seeing for the first time — not only was the vending machine artistically cool, but also educational!

The vending machine was stocked with sushi from Kyotaru, which is Sushiro’s sister chain.

There were six products available for sale, all for 1,000 yen (US$7.47) or less.  There were packets of individual sushi on sale in the vending machine, as well as special sushi bowls. All of them were frozen, to be taken home and eaten.

Mr. Sato decided to go with the frozen Shrimp Tartare Chirashi. Chirashi sushi, pronounced “chirashizushi”, literally means “scattered sushi”, and it’s a type of sushi meal where raw seafood ingredients are scattered on top of a bowl of vinegared rice.

The sushi was still frozen when Mr. Sato arrived home, so he checked the instructions on how to defrost it.

The instructions said to cut a slit in the frozen inner bag, then to heat it in a 500-watt microwave for about three minutes.

As soon as the three minutes were up, Mr. Sato took it out and was ready to tuck in, only another glance at the instructions told him otherwise —

“Remove the sushi from the microwave and let it sit for 20 minutes before serving.”

So, twenty minutes later, the chirashi was ready to eat.

On top of the vinegared rice, there were colorful strips of omelet, boiled shrimp, flying fish roe, and edamame. There was a layer of tartar sauce underneath the omelet, and the combination of the tartness of the mayonnaise and the acidity of the rice was excellent. The popping texture of the flying fish roe was a pleasant addition as well. Plus, it didn’t have any of that weird freezer smell that you sometimes find in frozen foods.

This chirashi bowl was really tasty, and Mr. Sato hopes that the next step in frozen sushi vending machines will be for them to sell sushi that’s ready to eat without defrosting.

The frozen sushi vending machines are currently installed at the Sushiro Omiya and Sushiro Kasukabe branches, as well as the Sushiro/Kyotaru Shigekichi Ayase Station store.

Photos ©SoraNews24
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