Budget Beat

Budget Beat: TeHaru

News flash: Sushi does not have to be expensive. Of course, to a lot of folks, sushi still seems exotic, and, therefore, prone to be served in flashy, theme-oriented, slightly high-end restaurants. But at TeHaru in Tempe, the sushi is inexpensive and tasty. Oh, and it's served on a conveyor belt.

Let me set the scene: You walk into a warmly lit space whose focal point is a three-sided bar/counter, around which two conveyor belts carry little colored plates (the colors denote the price) of sushi, edamame, an assortment of beverages, and a handful of desserts. As soon as the server seats you at the counter and takes your drink order, you're pretty much ready to dive right in by snatching a plate off the slow-moving belt. The plates are never cleared by your server. Instead, you stack them. At the end of the meal, your server counts up your plates, checks the colors of them, and adds up your bill. 

The system is genius, for several reasons. 

Three: There's no such thing as over-ordering. Sometimes, at sushi joints, that's easy to do. Sushi is so damn good and it seems like it's not filling, but it is. Many times, the missus and I find ourselves forcing down those last few bites. 

Four: It's a meditative experience to eat, chat, sip your green tea, and watch the sushi lazily pass by on the belt. It's fun to ooh and aah at all the varieties before you. I imagine that if you had some rugrats in tow, they'd get a kick out of food that moves.

Five: Did I mention it's cheap? The plates are priced at $1, $1.50, and $2. You can watch your plates stack up to a couple of feet high and still know that you're not dropping a bundle. In fact, the missus and I got filled up for $23.50. Even at mid-range sushi place, we find it's hard to fill up for less than $45. It should be noted, too, that TeHaru has 24-ounce Japanese beers for $3.50. That's cheap.

But what about the sushi, you ask? Okay, so it's going to win any awards, but it is by no means bad. I love sushi, but I am in no way a connoisseur of the stuff. That being said, I've had really great stuff and some really lame stuff. TeHaru is somewhere in the middle -- it's tasty and it's satisfying. And, in case I haven't mentioned this -- it's cheap.

9845 South Priest Drive, Suite 106
Hours: Monday through Thursday, 11 a.m. to 10:30 p.m.; Friday and Saturday, 11 a.m. to 10:30 p.m.; Sunday, 11 a.m. to 9:30 p.m.

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Jay Bennett
Contact: Jay Bennett