The Sushi Circuit

Appears in the November 2023 issue.

By Peter Gianopulos

Robots charm customers

Kura Revolving Sushi Bars

Starting to wonder if all those Terminator movies were prophetic, evidence that a robot-apocalypse or an AI-driven Armageddon is, indeed, at hand? No need to fret just yet; instead, eat some sushi and spend some quality time with one of the KuraBot robotic servers roaming the aisles at the local Kura Revolving Sushi Bars.

Kura is a global conveyor-belt sushi chain created by one of the concept’s Japanese-based pioneers, Kunihiko Tanaka. Early this year, Kura opened up an outpost in Oak Brook and is planning on launching another at 1211 E. Ogden Ave. in Naperville this fall.

Diners can order sushi two different ways: Simply grab their favorite bites—everything from ponzu-dipped salmon to seared scallop nigiri—from a lower belt that snakes across the entire restaurant. Or use a touchscreen to order anything from Kura’s expansive menu, which includes poke rolls, ramen, soft-shell crab tempura, and dumplings. When you choose the second option, the restaurant’s kitchen will ship your personalized orders via a second upper conveyor belt.

Human servers work the dining room fielding questions and cleaning up, but Kur-B and his friends often generate the most mirth. The robots, which look like they were inspired by Disney/Pixar’s WALL-E, grin at diners with huge manga-like digital eyes, deliver drinks, play tunes, and inspire an important message: If smiling robots and friendly human waiters can work together in perfect harmony, perhaps we’ve got more to embrace than fear about the AI-driven days to come.


Photo: Emily J. Davis for Kura Sushi