Never be stuck for what to choose at the conveyor belt restaurant ever again!

Recently, our Japanese-language reporters have been competing against each other as they visit various chains around town, attempting to make the best use of 1,000 yen (US$6.81). Their latest outing took them to Hama Sushi, one of the nation’s top conveyor belt sushi restaurant chains, and this time we have 10 different reporters introducing us to 10 different ways to use such limited funds.

Each member of the team came up with a creative moniker for their meals, tying them to themes that range from straight-up sushi dishes to Japanese dessert sets. Which one will get your vote as the best selection? Let’s take a look at the candidates below!

▼ Mr Sato’s Three-Piece Sushi Centralisation Set

Three types of tuna: 187 yen
Three types of squid: 187 yen
Three types of shrimp: 187 yen
Three types of toroneba (tuna with sticky ingredients like okra): 187 yen
Three types of salad gunkan: 187 yen
Total: 935 yen

In explaining his decision to go all-out with the three-piece sushi plates, Mr Sato said, “I don’t have many opportunities to go to Hama Sushi, so to be honest, I don’t know the menu at all. I put together a set that prioritises volume, so you get 15 pieces of sushi for 1,000 yen, and it makes for a surprisingly satisfying meal. Please use this as a reference for when you visit!”

▼ Takashi Harada’s Cospa Three-piece Assortment & Hama Sushi Delicious Set

Three types of tuna: 165 yen
Three types of salmon: 165 yen
Three types of squid: 165 yen
Three types of shrimp: 165 yen
Grilled salmon cheese: 110 yen
Crispy fries: 220 yen
Total: 990 yen

Takashi and Mr Sato must’ve been telepathically connected, as they ordered three of the same dishes, although Takashi opted for fries and more salmon. He says the three-piece sets offer good “cospa” (cost performance, or value for money), but above all, he highly recommends the grilled salmon and cheese, which was thoroughly delicious.

▼ Masanuki Sunakoma’s Crisis Avoidance Set From ‘Three Types’ Cost Performance

Three types of tuna: 165 yen
Three types of salmon: 165 yen
Three types of toroneba: 165 yen
Three types of squid: 165 yen
Three types of salad gunkan: 165 yen
Rare tuna steak: 165 yen
Total: 990 yen

After looking at the menu, Masanuki also figured the three-piece dishes were the best value for money, so he was originally going to use all his money on them, but then he spotted the rare tuna steak and couldn’t resist it. It turned out to be a wise decision as the tuna steak was delicious, acting as a nice contrast to the lighter dishes.

▼ Seiji Nakazawa’s Manly Mackerel Set

Mackerel pressed sushi: 121 yen
Shimesaba: 121 yen
Grilled mackerel: 121 yen
Shimesaba caught in Funka Bay, Hokkaido: 187 yen
Three types of tuna: 187 yen
Three types of shrimp: 187 yen
Total: 924 yen

As an Osaka native, Nakazawa loves battera, a type of pressed sushi usually topped with mackerel and white kelp. As a famous specialty in and around the Osaka region, the white kelp is important for authenticity, and out of the four major conveyor belt sushi chains — Hama Sushi, Kappa Sushi, Kura Sushi and Sushiro) — Hama Sushi is the only one that offers pressed mackerel sushi topped with white kelp.

Additionally, Hama Sushi has three other types of mackerel so he got them as well. If he could, he would swim around the ocean like a mackerel as he loves them so much, and the ones at Hama Sushi are highly recommended.

▼ Go Hatori’s Shrimp Expo with Coffee Set

Shrimp: 110 yen
Grilled shrimp mayo: 110 yen
Grilled shrimp and cheese: 110 yen
Rare shrimp steak: 110 yen
Shrimp avocado: 165 yen
Shrimp tempura: 110 yen
Assorted shrimp and spicy green onions: 165 yen
Coffee jelly: 110 yen
Total: 990 yen

For Go, Hama Sushi is synonymous with shrimp, so that’s what he got — plates and plates of them. As an interesting twist, Go says he likes drinking coffee with sushi to make it taste better, but as he was tight on funds he couldn’t afford a coffee and so ordered coffee jelly instead.

▼ “Refreshing!”

▼ Yuuichiro Wasai’s Grilled All Stars Melty Set

Hama Sushi’s “Goku” Grilled Set: 715 yen
Carefully selected tuna grilled medium tuna: 165 yen
Grilled salmon cheese: 110 yen
Total: 990 yen

Sushi purists might be put off by this set, but Yuuichiro says that ever since he grilled some cheap sushi from the supermarket he’s been hooked on it. He says it improves the taste dramatically, so when he saw all the grilled dishes on the menu he just couldn’t look away. If you like your fish grilled rather than raw, this is the set for you.

▼ P.K. Sanjun’s Top 3 Delicious Hama Sushi Neta Set

Seared rare steak (121 yen x 5 plates): 605 yen
Red Sea Bream: 187 yen
Salmon Roe: 187 yen
Tota: 979 yen

P.K.’s philosophy here is when you like something, indulge in it. That’s why he ordered not one but five plates of the rare steak, along with some equally luxurious neta (sushi toppings). He says these are the major league players on the menu, which are sure to perform well in any situation.

▼ Nothing but the best for P.K.

▼ Yoshio’s Warship Formation Set

Vinegared mackerel: 110 yen
Fukui Prefecture-caught pickled firefly squid: 110 yen
Pressed mackerel sushi: 110 yen
Tuna: 110 yen
Red squid: 110 yen
Raw whitebait (from the waters near Japan) gunkan: 110 yen
Domestic horse mackerel gunkan: 110 yen
Wasabi Engawa gunkan: 110 yen
Kuroge Wagyu gunkan: 110 yen
Total: 990 yen

Yoshio goes to Hama Sushi several times a  month, so he’s well versed in what’s on the menu. He says the best value for money is in the gunkan, which literally translates to “warship” but is used in the sushi world to refer to seaweed-wrapped warship-shaped sushi. The Engawa (flatfish tail fin meat), for example, costs 162 yen, but the gunkan version of the same item is 110 yen, which is a great saving.

▼ While he could’ve made an entire fleet of battleships, he chose to add some regular sushi for a dash of variety, and he had zero regrets.

▼ Ahiruneko’s Hama Sushi Serious Drinking Set 

Barley shochu: 385 yen
Fukui Prefecture-caught pickled firefly squid: 110 yen
Three types of squid (spear squid, true squid, true squid pickled in perilla): 165 yen
Sake-steamed clams: 220 yen
Umami dashi thick-fried egg: 110 yen
Total: 990 yen

Ahiruneko has established himself as the drinker of the group, always looking to add an alcoholic beverage or two to his meals. At some chains, it can be hard to squeeze in a drink on a 1,000 yen budget, but at Hama Sushi he recommends trying the shochu, a distilled alcohol that’s served straight, so you can customise it to your tastes by adding water or tea to it. Good partners for the shochu are egg omelette, squid — so good he ordered five different pieces of it — and sake-steamed clams, a huge dish that’s a bit of a hidden gem on the menu.

▼ Mariko Ohanabatake’s Japanese Style Cafe Hama Sushi

Cool baked sweet potato brûlée: 286 yen
Hamatoro milk white peach ice cream: 286 yen
Warabi mochi: 110 yen
Three-coloured dango: 110 yen
Hot matcha latte: 198 yen
Total: 990 yen

Mariko says she rarely eats at Hama Sushi, but she feels that you don’t get a lot for your yen at conveyor belt sushi restaurants so she ordered a bundle of sweets instead. She says this is incredibly cost-effective, especially as every sweet item she chose was tasty and surprisingly high-quality.

▼ Mariko has the sweet skills to turn any restaurant into a cafe.

So there you have it — the best ways to spend 1,000 yen at Hama Sushi! Which set would you like to try? Let us know in the comments below, and happy eating, everyone!

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