One of Tucson’s newest sushi restaurants has taken a more literal approach to rolling out its daily menu items.
QQ Revolving Sushi Bar, which opened in late January in the Hub at Tucson student housing complex, boasts a custom-built conveyor belt that snakes its way through the dining area’s built-in booths, single seats and sushi prep station.
Chefs place rolls on different colored plates and send them down the line so that customers may pick and choose their meals.
The color of the plate on which the sushi sits designates the cost. The white plates, which hold simple dishes such as California rolls and light appetizers, are the cheapest at $1.75. Black plates, home to more complex creations and specialty rolls, are $5.25. Yellow, green and blue plates range from $2.25 to $4.25.
At the end of the meal, the number and color of the plates stacked on the table determine the bill.
“It keeps the price for the customer down,” said QQ owner Ricky Lu. “People tend to think that sushi is an expensive night out. I want to open it up. I want people in Tucson to enjoy casually going out for sushi like they enjoy going out for hamburgers and sandwiches.”
While the conveyor belt concept is popular in other parts of the United States and commonplace in other countries such as Japan and Australia, only a handful of revolving sushi restaurants exist in Arizona.
Lu, 34, hopes to change that. He’s a first generation Chinese-American who started his career in the food service industry working for Chinese restaurants in New York City, before finding his passion in sushi.
He co-owned and operated the traditional sushi restaurant Tenzan 89 in Manhattan for five years, before coming to Tucson in 2014 to be closer to his sister.
When Lu leased the 3,000-square-foot space in Hub on North Tyndall Avenue near the University of Arizona, the thought was to cater primarily to students.
Lu estimates at least 60 percent of his customers come from the student housing complexes that surround his establishment.
The plan is to now expand into other parts of town.
Lu and his partners have already signed a lease to take over the former home of the China Star restaurant on the southeast corner of East Grant and North Swan roads.
The Grant Road space is 6,000 square feet, in a shopping complex anchored by Trader Joe’s and PetSmart. Lu said the location is optimal because it already has a built-in kitchen.
Like the QQ on Tyndall Avenue, the new QQ will offer a full menu, in addition to rotating, conveyor belt options.
Lu said he hopes to have the second location open by the end of April.
He is already in talks for a third location on East Broadway.
“I want to make QQ Sushi a common sight throughout Tucson,” he said.