Kula Sushi Now Revolving on Sawtelle (And It’s a Cheap Sushi Fan’s Dream Come True)
Is it weird that I love conveyor belt sushi, without ever having been to a conveyor belt sushi place that I truly love? That’s definitely strange, right? I guess I just love the idea of conveyor belt sushi. After all, what could be more fun than having your menu float past you on miniature boats, combining the ordering and receiving of your food into one simple motion. Sushi dim sum! In practice, though, kaiten sushi is never as fun as you think it’s going to be. If the place isn’t full, you watch the same things go around and around and around, wondering why you even bothered with this nonsense. Sure, you can order anything they serve off the menu but that would defeat the purpose. When something you do want comes along you find yourself quickly trying to match the color of the plate with the price. Is this worth it? Am I paying more for something that may have been floating around in circles for god knows how long? How many plates have I ordered already? Will something better come if I just wait? Am I spending a fortune? What the hell is going on?!
It’s downright stressful. Unless, of course, you just give in to the fun of it. In which case you always end up with a bill that seems far too expensive for what’s supposed to be a casual sushi lunch. And that, folks, is how they get you. But even knowing all that, I can’t resist the pull of the conveyor belt. So when Kula Sushi finally opened on Sawtelle last week, in West L.A., I had to check it out.
Little Osaka already has a kaiten sushi place, hidden on the second floor of that mini mall on the SW corner of Olympic and Sawtelle. But it’s never full, and with plates that range in price from $3 to $6 it ends up being way more expensive than it should be for the quality of food.
At Kula, on the other hand, everything is $2. I’ll let that sink in for a second. Every. Single. Thing. That you see go by on the conveyor belt. Costs $2. For somebody trying to keep their lunches to $10, this is a dream come true. So, in theory, I could get 5 things and it would still kind of be a Midtown Lunch. The question is, what are you getting for your $2?
If you don’t like cheap sushi, you should probably just stop reading right now. Kula is good, but it’s not good enough to convert the sushi snob. They find a good balance between price and quality, similar to Sushi Stop (which has two locations on Sawtelle alone.) Hate Sushi Stop? You probably won’t like Kula. But if you like Sushi Stop, imagine getting it for 40 cents less per plate and on a conveyor belt!
First off there’s the nigiri. You get all the expected stuff, like yellowtail, tuna, salmon, and mackerel. But there’s also salmon belly (seen above), squid, conch and eel, all for $1 a piece (since you get two on a plate.)
Kula does a nice job with their marinated and half cooked stuff for those who like the flavor of cheap fish to be masked a little bit. This soy sake marinated tuna was kind of great, and there’s also ponzu topped albacore and red snapper, and half seared scallops and mackerel.
The best part is, they do single pieces of some of the more expensive stuff. Like sweet shrimp, served with its tempura fried head. There’s also toro…
…and uni. Were either of these mind blowing? Of course not. If you’re used to the best stuff, it might be tough to choke these cheap versions down. But for the inexpensive sushi connoisseur, these are the things that are going to put Kula over the top.
If you’re more into rolls, Kula has got you covered on that end as well. To keep everything at $2 they adjust the size of the roll accordingly. The spider, for example, is only two pieces since it comes with soft shelled crab. Caterpillar, shrimp tempura, and other crunchy rolls come in orders of 3. Spicy tuna, salmon skin, and california rolls (with real crab meat, apparently!?) come in 4s. And the standard tekka roll is far bigger than anything you get at most cheap sushi places for $2.
Like handrolls? They have those too, made to order for only $2. How can you go wrong!?
There’s plenty of non sushi stuff on the menu as well. Like crispy rice topped with crab or spicy tuna, edamame, sunomono (pickles), miso soup, gyoza, kara-age (crispy chicken), popcorn shrimp, and spicy shrimp taco (!?) all for $2. I also saw salmon cheek (!!), and udon, although the latter is a splurge at $4.
The best part about Kula is that the place itself is on the smaller side, so the food seemed to get constantly rotated out. And even though you can order anything you want off the menu, you could still hold off and manage to see most of the stuff come by on the belt. The worst part about Kula is that it’s on the smaller side, so it’s likely going to be packed from now until always. It was already kind of full during lunch last week. I feel like going back again today.
Kula Revolving Sushi, 2130 Sawtelle Blvd. 310-597-4490