Uobei Sushi, owned by Genki Sushi Co., Ltd, is chain of sushi restaurants found all over Japan specializing in affordable but high quality sushi. Their store in Shibuya, not far from the world famous Shibuya Crossing, is known as Uobei Shibuya Dogenzaka.
Uobei isn’t your typical traditional Japanese sushi restaurant. Neither is it a conveyor belt or rotating sushi (kaiten-zushi) restaurant. At Uobei, they do things a little more high tech. You order from a tablet, with plates starting at 100 yen, and your food arrives in front of you at lightning speed thanks to a sushi train.
So you might be wondering should I visit Genki or Uobei? It really doesn’t matter. While Uobei is slightly cheaper, they are the same other than the name.
Arriving at Uobei
While Genki might be the more popular option in Shibuya, Uobei always seems to be busy, especially during the dinner rush hours and on weekends. If you visit during these times, expect there to be a wait. With quick turnaround times, the lines usually move along quickly.
If you avoid the peak hours, as I did, you might be able to walk right in and find a seat immediately.
Just like Shibuya, the interior of Uobei was bright and full of color.
Every seat in the restaurant was counter seating only. Cramped is how I would best describe it. You probably don’t want to visit with a large group. If you are dining alone in Tokyo, Uobei would be a great option.
This was not your quiet, intimate dining experience. It was casual, boisterous, and fun. And it was loud. You had the sounds of customers, workers, trains delivering plates of food, and the non-stop clicking sound that the tablets made.
How to order at Uobei
Many people think that Uobei is a conveyor belt or rotating sushi (kaiten-zushi) restaurant. This is not the case. Though similar, at Uobei, items arrived by train. More of that shortly.
You will be handed a clipboard when your seat is available. At the top of the clipboard will be a number. This number is your seat number. Above each seat will be a corresponding number.
When you find your seat, you can begin ordering immediately. No need to wait for a server. All ordering, including food and drinks, was done by tablet. Each seat had their own tablet to order from.
The menu on the tablet was separated into nine sections. Set Menu/Limited Time Items, Nigiri Sushi, Gunkan-Maki/Sushi Rolls/Inari, Side Menu, Deserts, and Alcohol/Soft Drinks. Just select the items you want, confirm your order, and press order. You could order up to three items at a time.
After a few minutes, your items will arrive by train. Think of it as a monorail food delivery train system. It’s a cool experience, especially if it’s your first time.
When your food arrives, remove the plates from the train and press the blinking button. The empty train will return back to the kitchen. Definitely not something you see every day.
Order a drink through the tablet? A server will deliver it to you.
Green Tea and Condiments
Everything else you may need will be on the table in front of you or above you. This included soy sauce, ginger, wasabi, pepper flakes, chop sticks, powdered green tea, cups for tea, and hand wipes.
The powdered green tea (matcha) was complimentary. Just grab a cup, add a few spoonfuls of power, and fill the cup up with hot water from the dispenser.
Red Center of Bluefin Tuna
First up was the Red Center of Bluefin Tuna (220 yen).
This tuna was bright and beautiful, so I was hoping it tasted as great as it looked.
The bluefin tuna was thin and tender but still had some texture to it. It didn’t just fall apart or melt in my mouth. There wasn’t any fat or hard to chew stringy bits to be found. The flavor was mild with a slight fishy, salty taste.
While there was nothing specifically wrong with this piece of sushi, it was basic and I don’t think it was worth the up charge of 220 yen.
Salmon with Onion & Mayo
Uobei and Genki are well known for their interesting takes on sushi. The Salmon with Onion & Mayo (108 yen) is one of those interesting combinations.
Sliced white onions and mayonnaise topped the thin piece of salmon. The salmon fresh with a mild salty flavor. Exactly how it should taste.
The sliced onions added a crunchy texture to the otherwise soft fish. The mayonnaise on its on seemed strange at first but the sauce added a rich, creamy flavor to the fresh salmon and spicy, crunchy onions.
Shrimp with Green Onion & Chili Oil
Next up was the Shrimp with Green Onion & Chili Oil (180 yen), which was prepared and presented beautifully.
The shrimp was basic with a great briny flavor to each bite. The shrimp had great texture to it with a good bite, almost as if the shrimp was steamed.
Topping the shrimp was a combination of chili oil and sesame oil. While the chili oil wasn’t spicy, it added a great smoky flavor to the shrimp. I wanted more heat, especially with no wasabi. The sesame oil added a wonderful aroma which I really enjoyed.
While the thinly sliced green onions added a crunchy texture, I felt they were too stringy for me.
The Scallop (108 yen) Nigiri Sushi was probably my favorite of the night. I just love scallops whether raw or cooked.
The fresh scallop was buttery and creamy. It just melted in my mouth. Though there was only one piece, the scallop was much thicker than I was expecting.
If you have never had raw scallops before, you need try it here. For the price, I felt like it was a steal.
Freshly Processed Yellowtail
When I noticed the name Freshly Processed Yellowtail (108 yen), I laughed a little. I was hoping all the other items were freshly processed.
When compared to the other pieces of sushi, the yellowtail was very thin. The fish had a mild, delicate flavor, similar to the tuna. With such a mild flavor, and with the piece so thin, it was hard to taste all the flavors of the fish.
I would skip the yellowtail next time. There were so many other great options on the menu with more flavor.
Seared Albacore with Pepper Mayo
The Seared Albacore with Pepper Mayo (108 yen) was similar to the Salmon with Onion & Mayo, except it was quickly seared. The sear added a ton of flavor.
Not only was the fish seared, but so was the rice. This quick sear gave the sushi a great unmami flavor. The smoky flavor complimented the rich and creamy pepper mayonnaise. The pepper added a nice spicy kick without overpowering the albacore.
The albacore was fresh and buttery with a distinct smoky flavor. I usually want to taste all the flavors of the fish, but in this situation, I was fine with the smoky flavor.
I only wish I tried more of their seared sushi options.
Another one of my all time favorite types of sushi is Sweet Shrimp (108 yen). Sweet shrimp is always expensive, so I really wasn’t expecting too much for the price.
While there was more rice than shrimp, the small amount of shrimp was still delicious and flavorful. Each piece was tender, almost melt-in-my-mouth. The flavor was a perfect balance of sweet and salty. I can never get enough of it.
As with the scallop and uni, there should have been one large piece of sweet shrimp rather than two smaller pieces.
Premium Fresh Sea Urchin (Uni)
Whenever I visit Japan, I love to sample some of the local sea urchin (known as uni in Japan). Some of the best, and most expensive I ever had was in Hakodate in Northern Japan. Now, I know I won’t find the best uni at a place like Uobei, but that didn’t keep me from trying it.
When I ordered the Premium Fresh Sea Urchin (220 yen), my expectations were low considering the price. Uni is expensive. As with the scallop, there was only one piece of uni, which was understandable.
Right away I noticed a big difference between this uni and that which I had in Hakodate. High quality uni is bright yellow or gold in color. This uni was closer to brown.
While the uni was creamy and rich, it didn’t melt in my mouth. It was slightly gritty. The flavor was also different. You want the flavor to be light and briny. The aftertaste was very strong, almost like a metallic flavor.
For the price, I can’t complain. I got some of the flavors of uni without shelling out $40. If you ever get the chance to try high quality uni, I highly recommend it.
Out of all the pieces of sushi I had, the Tuna (108 yen) might have been the most beautiful. Then tuna, which was larger than I was expecting, had a wonderful deep ruby red color.
Unfortunately, while the pieces of tuna were large, they weren’t as flavorful or as tender as I was expecting.
The meaty parts of the tuna were fine, similar to the bluefin tuna, but the white strings of fat running through the fish were somewhat chewy. Also, the tuna didn’t have as much flavor as I would have hoped for. The tuna tasted somewhat bland and had no wasabi. In other words, it was just too plain for my liking.
Whenever I make a stop at Uobei or Genki, I make it a priority to order the Oyster Fries (220 yen) last. These panko-breaded, deep-fried oysters were delicious, especially for the price.
The thick golden brown panko breading was perfect. Crunchy, flaky, and not too oily or rich.
Whenever I took a bite, there was an explosion of flavors. The salty juices of the slightly chewy oysters hidden inside immediately flowed out. I am getting hungry now just thinking about it.
The oyster fries were a perfect balance of crunchy panko breading, salty juices, and tender, chewy oysters.
With ordering done by tablet at Uobei, the interaction with workers was limited. The workers that I did encounter (when arriving and departing, when ordering a drink, paying my bill) were all friendly.
If you are looking for a traditional Japanese sushi restaurant with only the freshest of sushi hand picked by the chef, then Uobei Sushi might not be the type of place you are looking for.
Uobei is modern, high tech, affordable, and honestly just a fun place to visit. Everyone needs to give a place like Uobei or Genki a try at least once.
- Large selection of affordable sushi
- Train food delivery system
- A great experience
- Expect a line during dinner hours and on weekends
- Many pieces of sushi were very thin
- No interaction with the sushi chefs (if this is something you care about)
Monday - Sunday: 11:00 AM - 12:00 AM
2-29-11 Dogenzaka, Shibuya-ku, Tokyo, Japan
GPS Coordinates: 35.659467,139.697799