The restaurant’s gourmet image and proximity to the ocean gave us high expectations for freshness and flavor.

Most sushi fans are probably familiar with large chain revolving sushi restaurants like Sushiro, Kura Sushi, Hama Sushi, and Kappa Sushi (all of which we’re big fans of here at SoraNews24). But for people who live outside of the major cities, the places that likely come to mind first are the local revolving shops, like Kaisen Atom in Fukui prefecture, which is a prefecture located right on the Sea of Japan and already famous for its seafood.

Kaisen Atom has a long history in the prefecture. The restaurant was originally called Tokubei Sushi, and after it moved its headquarters to Fukui City, it opened its first Kaisen Atom restaurant there in 1972. After that, it merged with other companies and underwent a bit of rebranding, and at present it’s a subsidiary of Colowide, which also owns Kappa Sushi. Currently, there are 9 Kaisen Atom restaurants open throughout Fukui prefecture.

▼ The recommendations of the day (本日のおすすめ)  on our visit included several of the dishes we went on to order, as well as things like Broiled Rosy Seabass (740 yen [US$4.95]) and Fatty Tuna (740 yen).

Our Japanese-language reporter Mr. Sato happened to be visiting the coastal city of Tsuruga when he stumbled upon the Tsuruga Wakaba branch of the chain, which is right across from the Sea of Japan Fish Market. Of course, he had to go in and try it out, and that’s when he learned that Kaisen Atom is considered a more gourmet style revolving sushi restaurant, with prices that are a little bit higher than the major nationwide chains.

The cheapest sushi on the menu was 120 yen, which is cheaper than Sushiro’s cheapest plate of 150 yen, but the most expensive was 740 yen, which far outprices the most expensive plate on Sushiro’s regular menu, which is 250 yen (at least in Tokyo). However, since the restaurant was so close to the market, Mr. Sato had high expectations of the fish’s freshness.

He ordered the Pacific saury (390 yen), which is currently in season. The restaurant has been doing a “Taste of Fall” campaign since September, and the Pacific saury was heavily advertised even on the menu tablet, so Mr. Sato considered it a necessity to try.

The fish was very carefully prepared, and it wasn’t soggy like cheaper saury. Mr. Sato could tell that it was the work of a talented sushi chef. Clearly it’s not just the prices that make Kaisen Atom a gourmet restaurant.

Mr. Sato also ordered the Fukui Salmon (440 yen), which is a trout salmon raised in the cold waters of Fukui. After being caught, these fish are kept in a tank until preparation, so they taste extremely fresh.

It was a fleshy fish whose fat was well distributed, but it didn’t have a strong fishy smell at all. Mr. Sato actually thought it was more suited to being cooked than served as sashimi or sushi. The luxurious sweetness of the fat made this salmon extra special.

After that came the Fatty Amberjack (540 yen). This sushi was so soft, it felt like it melted in Mr. Sato’s mouth. He did feel that it was a little bit early to be catching amberjack; with a bit more time to collect fat, it would’ve been even more delicious.

Lastly, Mr. Sato finished his meal with “Shin Ika” (240 yen), a type of squid. He typically likes any kind of squid, so he didn’t particularly care what kind he received at Kaizen Atom as long as it was good quality. However, he does have high standards, and he found that this particular squid was nothing special. It wasn’t bad, but compared to the other sushi he ordered, it didn’t really meet his expectations.

Overall, though, Mr. Sato was highly pleased with his taste test of the Fukui-only revolving sushi restaurant. It’s too bad it doesn’t have branches outside of the prefecture, but perhaps that’s because they can’t deliver the same fish at the same freshness as they can in a place bordered by the Sea of Japan. That just gives you even more reason to visit, though–especially if you’re already keen to check out the prefecture’s cursed bridge and haunted tunnel.

Restaurant information
Kaisen Atom Tsuruga Wakaba Branch / 海鮮アトム 敦賀若葉店
Address: Fukui-ken Tsuruga-shi Wakabamachi 2-1702
Open 11 a.m.-10 p.m.

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