Sushi Tairyo (Blue Lagoon Plaza)
It seems hard to believe that my review of Sushi Tairyo in December 2001 didn’t have a single photo of sushi! I had to compensate with words – tons of words describing every aspect of the sushi experience. Also, at the time of the review, Sushi Tairyo had just opened and became an instant success because it had new conveyor technology as well as really fresh seafood. The word “kaiten” on the menu refers to a circular conveyor belt, so kaiten zushi is conveyor belt sushi.
The word “super” describes the new (at the time) conveyor system at Sushi Tairyo. Taiyro roughly translates into the phrase “big fish harvest”, which is what the original owning company, Gyoren Guam, was capitalizing on via a relationship with the Japanese Fishery Association. My take on this history is that the super conveyor was replicating the efficiency of the fresh seafood harvesting and distribution network in Japan, so that customers sitting at Sushi Tairyo could be reasonably confident that they were being served quality sushi.
Well, fast forward from 2001 to 2013 and Sushi Tairyo has new owners (the Yanase family, who also operate the adjoining enormously popular “izakaya” pub, Kai Restaurant. The other good news is that you can sit at the sushi counter today and be served quality sushi at a reasonable price. I hadn’t been to Sushi Tairyo for about two or three years as I had changed my sushi dining preferences.
I was pleasantly surprised by my visit to Sushi Tairyo one Tuesday a little past 1 p.m. There was hardly any plates on the conveyor belt, which would not have been the case at 11:30 a.m., when the belt is full of covered plates with a variety of sushi rolls ready made and available to eat. When you come past 1 p.m., you can order your sushi selections from the sushi chef behind the counter, which is what I did and the reason for my positive experience.
Sushi Tairyo charges sushi by the plate color, with prices for one or two pieces of sushi ranging from $2 - $6. To make things easier for those to who don’t know all the types of sushi served, Sushi Tairyo has color charts describing the sushi on plates by name and price. I had been seated and was watching the young Sushi Chef, Lother Sorio, deftly roll ngiri sushi for waiting customers. He has been doing this for eight years and really enjoys (and takes pride in) his work. He and I later conferred about Japan’s legendary Sushi Master, Jiro Ono. Lother amazed me with his meticulous attention to detail and his sanitation and hygiene. He was constantly washing his hands and utensils!
I ordered a big prawn ($4), yellow tail ($3), California roll ($3), a “negitoro” hand-roll ($3), “uni” (sea urchin) ($4), shrimp salad ($2) and tempura hand roll ($3). The conveyor has gari (pickled ginger) and wasabi in bowls so you can take as you need as they rotate. You can order as much as you think you can eat! I realized as I was eating my sushi rolls how much I’ve changed as I don’t like to eat as much rice, which is why I really prefer sashimi more.
The last sushi I ordered was one I saw on the menu was the pepper roll ($3), which Lother explained had become increasingly popular since it has pepper flakes and bits of chili. It has salmon and mayonnaise and is baked, giving it a grilled cheese appearance. You better be able to handle the heat;it is certainly “pika” (spicy)!
Having sushi for lunch is different than having it during dinner, as I’d be inclined to have either beer or sake during dinner. Sake really enhances the entire sushi experience, but beer does a great job of clearing the palate. It’s extraordinary eating sushi with your eyes closed as you can taste the vinegar in the rice with a little bit of wasabi along with whatever seafood you’ve selected, especially with a cold beer or sake.
I am glad that I was finally able to get to Sushi Tairyo to enjoy the sushi I ate. I am going to return to eat some of the 30 or more items I missed!!
Ita-dake masu (bon appetite)!
Ken “GuamFood Guy” Stewart