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Sushi Station revolves around you

The fried shumai — deep-fried shrimp dumplings drizzled with tonkatsu sauce spicy mayo chili paste — is served Sushi StatiRolling

The fried shumai — deep-fried shrimp dumplings drizzled with tonkatsu sauce, spicy mayo and chili paste — is served at Sushi Station in Rolling Meadows. | Richard A. Chapman~Sun-Times

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1641 Algonquin Rd., Rolling Meadows
(847) 593-2450;

Prices: Various dishes priced from $1.25-$8.50. Dessert: $1.25-$3.25.

Hours: Lunch 11:30 a.m.-2 p.m., dinner 5-10 p.m. Monday-Friday; noon-10 p.m. Saturday and noon-9 p.m. Sunday.

Try: Fried shumai (shrimp dumplings), softshell crab, vegetable tempura, green tea ice cream.

Tips: No reservations. Beer, wine and sake available. Free parking. Sit-down or carry out.

In a bite: Sushi Station offers a fast-food version of Japanese fare served kaiten-style on plates that circulate past seated diners on a revolving conveyor belt. The prices are inexpensive and the selection varied.

KEY: ★★★★ Extraordinary; ★★★ Excellent;
★★ Very Good; ★ Good; Zero stars: Poor

A meal at Sushi Station in Rolling Meadows can be a whirlwind affair.

Though the waitstaff will take orders for items such as vegetable tempura, soft-shell crab and specialty rolls, most dishes are prepared assembly-line fashion and whiz by on a brisk-moving conveyor belt from which diners pick and choose as the spirit moves.

Welcome to kaiten (revolving) sushi, a popular style in Japan that’s making inroads here. To avoid being overwhelmed, first-timers would do well to take time to study the menu before assuming their seats.

At Sushi Station, the food is fresh and varied, if not inspired, and the prices ($2.25 to $8.50 a dish) reasonably modest. Dawdling is not encouraged, especially as crowds queue during peak dinner hours. Reservations are not accepted. Our recent dinner there clocked in at less than an hour, but it was enough to get a representative taste of the menu.

Some items were more successful than others. Deep-fried shumai (shrimp dumplings) benefitted from a savory tonkatsu sauce and zippy spiced mayonnaise and chili paste. Also delicious was Ikura, a gunkan-maki consisting of a mound of sushi rice wrapped with a strip of nori and topped with bright orange salmon roe.

Two other fine choices I sampled, both deep-fried, included soft-shell crab served with chopped scallions and shrimp crispers — crunchy shrimp in a coating of lightly seasoned rice flour. But the plate of four dried-out gyoza (pork-filled dumplings) snagged from the looping conveyor had spent too much time in transit, and the sweet potatoes in our shareable order of vegetable tempura were tough.

Desserts aren’t the norm, but Sushi Station offers a bakers’ dozen, including mizu manju (clear jelly dumplings with red bean paste) and, atypically, cheesecake and strawberries covered in dark chocolate. The green tea ice cream has merit.

Japanese and domestic beers are on offer as well as hot or cold sake and a handful of wines by the glass or bottle.

Accumulated color-coded 5-inch-round plates, each representing one of six set prices, are tallied at the end of the meal to compute what’s owed.

Thomas Witom is a local free-lance writer.

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