BG Eats: “Sushi Train” chugs to its rhythm

A shrimp tempura roll on display at Osaka Sushi Train just off Scottsville Road in Bowling Green. Osaka offers a daily lunch special from 11:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. in which customers can purchase an all you can eat buffet of freshly prepared sushi and assorted desserts for only $10. Luke Franke/HERALD

John Greer

For providing cheap sushi in a slightly chaotic and untraditional setting, Osaka Sushi Train makes for a singularly interesting experience. 

The central concept and most interesting aspect of Osaka Sushi Train is the conveyor belt system. Small plates snake slowly throughout the restaurant along this mechanical pathway. Instead of ordering off the menu, which is still an option, customers are free to swipe plates directly off the conveyor belt. Coupled with the more ornate, traditional Japanese art lining the walls, it creates a weird pseudo modern urban vibe. 

As if to further complicate this theme, an eclectic mix of American pop buzzes through the speakers. Do not be surprised if you hear Lady Gaga and Michael Jackson back-to-back. 

The novelty is initially exciting. Depending on the quality of the food, it could wear out quickly. Fortunately, Osaka Sushi Train does enough to ensure that the conceit does not devolve into novelty without substance.

On a general level, the sushi often seemed hastily constructed. Little odds and ends of rice stuck out from the sushi pieces. They did not look particularly uniform. The overstuffed pieces of sushi were also liable to be falling apart on occasion. 

Sushi Train offers a diverse selection  of sushi, including dependable classics like the California roll and the spicy crab roll. The flavor of the crab was not strong, nor did the rice convey any hint of vinegar.

Both were perfectly pleasant though, with the fattiness of the avocado in the California Roll and the mayonnaise in the Spicy Crab supplying an element of needed creaminess. Use a dash of soy sauce and dab of bright green wasabi to balance out the flavors. 

Surprisingly, Sushi Train also includes nigiri on its conveyor belt. Nigiri consists of a slab of raw fish layered over vinegar rice.  The crab nigiri came with an elongated crab stick and rice tied together cleanly with nori, a toasted seaweed.

Nigiri is supposed to be a delicate dish, so those desiring stronger flavors should venture elsewhere. But a little umami from the soy sauce and horseradish spiciness of the wasabi made for a very savory bite.  

The appropriately named Gold Brick, a layered rectangular slab colored with a golden sauce, fell apart very easily. Still, its’ unabashed richness and strong flavors make for a refreshing bite between more subtle sushi rolls. 

Also of note, the pricing works like a color-coordinated tier system. Prices range from one to three dollars. Plates are priced according to their color. 

There is one clear time to visit Sushi Train for cheap college students. From 11:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m., Sushi Train offers all-you-can eat sushi for nine dollars. That is a great deal, but be careful lest you overfill (Warning: it is really easy to do).