Kulu Kulu Sushi
51-53 Shelton St
020 7240 5687.
At Kulu Kulu you sit around a conveyer belt and wait for your food to come to you. It’s reasonably healthy, quick and tasty Japanese faire, with a selection of sushi, sashimi and a few pleasant surprises.
About 30 diners sit around a conveyer belt where small plates of going round and round which you pick up yourself, thus dispensing with bad service for good. The Chef prepares the dishes in the middle in a no-nonsense fashion. It’s great for a quick bite if you’re in a small group.
It may seem unfair to describe Kulu Kulu as basic, but that’s exactly what it is and that’s what makes it so great. There’s no need for jazzy decor or fancy paintings on the wall. The food is decorative enough as it is. There’s not a shred of pretention and with no waiters to take your order, there’s no chance of embarrassing yourself with mispronunciation either.
There’s barely even a menu – not that it’s needed when the dishes goes round and round and you can just pick up what you fancy. The clientele comprises mostly of shabby media types, small groups and lone diners. It’s free from students and City boys. With everyone sitting next to each other, it gets very cozy.
At busy times you’re only allowed to stay at Kulu Kulu for 45 minutes. Bearing in mind there’s no time lapse for your Waiter to come to your table and bring you your food, this is ample time to exhaust the selection of dishes going around the belt.
It’s a pretty standard selection of salmon and tuna maki rolls and sashimi. The hand-rolled prawn tempura is divine and still manages to feel healthy, despite being deep-fried, wrapped in crispy seaweed and stuffed full of creamy avocado. The teriyaki chicken and salmon are perfectly sticky and sweet, and every so often you get a little gem coming round, like fresh oysters with a sprinkling of paprika.
Dessert doesn’t really feature in Oriental cuisine, so you won’t find anything groundbreaking at Kulu Kulu. Sliced melon and pineapple is pretty much all that’s on offer.
Free unlimited Green Tea is what most diners are drinking. Japanese beers like Asahi are also available. The wine list is sparse, but satisfactory. Pinot Grigio is about as posh as it gets here.
The Last Word
Sushi used to have a reputation for being the cuisine of rich bankers and mildly eccentric health freaks. At Kulu Kulu it’s made to feel homely and accessible. There’s plenty more than raw fish going around the table, and it’s all delicious.