If you want something a little different, sushi restaurants can provide all you are looking for and more. With the growing popularity of Japanese cuisine in western culture, sushi restaurants are becoming much more frequently found and affordable.
If you have never been to any sushi restaurants, there are a few things that you should keep in mind. First, the concept that eating raw fish is dangerous is not necessarily true. With only 40 cases of sushi related fish poisoning on average a year in the United States, eating sushi is safer than going to McDonald's or other fast food restaurants. Unlike many chain foods, sushi must be prepared by someone knowledgeable, so young students typically do not make extra money on the side by working as a chef in sushi restaurants. This typically translates to a higher level of safety when consuming food prepared in a sushi restaurant. In many cases, it can take years for a chef to develop the skills needed to make high quality sushi.
In addition to this, sushi restaurants in Japan are far different than sushi restaurants found in the United States and Canada. First, sushi from sushi restaurants in Japan are graded differently. Ume is the term for the lowest quality sushi, typically found in fast food style restaurants. To the Japanese, much of the sushi served in western culture is considered to be ume, unless the chef uses only the prime ingredients and has many years of experience making sushi. Matsu is the highest quality sushi, and is typically only found in Japan.
One of the most popular types of sushi restaurants use a kaiten sushi, or sushi train, to deliver sushi to restaurants. This eliminates time delays, as guests to the restaurant can simply select the sushi that they desire and pay for their food based off of the number of different plates they purchased. While kaiten sushi restaurants are somewhat uncommon in the United States and Canada, they are quickly gaining popularity. Higher quality sushi restaurants use chip tracking technology to determine in the sushi has been on the conveyer for too long. This ensures that the sushi selected by guests is as fresh as possible.
Many Japanese restaurants will serve sushi to their customers, even if the focus of the restaurant is not on sushi. If you want authentic sushi in the United States, you are often required to go to high end, authentic Japanese restaurants where Americanized sushi is not often served.