The middle of an arctic cold snap is maybe not the best time to open a new sushi restaurant — miso soup can only get you so far! — but that doesn't seem to have hurt Convey.
The name is a reference to a conveyor belt that winds its way from the kitchen around an irregularly shaped bar. Even without plates being sent out along its track, the conveyor seems to attract patrons to it's borders by sheer novelty.
Though the conveyor belt sushi transport system has been around for years in Japan (where it's called kaiten-zushi) and around the world, Convey is the first example of the concept inside the loop. (You can also find it outside the beltway at places like Sushi Choo-choo and Sushi Sara.)
With the conveyor out of service for lunch (it'll be in use during busier shifts, like happy hour and dinner), we picked from a sampler of classic and signature rolls.
At lunch the maki special features a choice of three standard rolls for $12 — not a bad deal, since there was enough on the plate to feed two. We liked the surprisingly spicy shrimp tempura roll, but found the spicy salmon and spicy yellowtail pretty average.
Where Convey really excels is the signature rolls, which really explore what flavors and ingredients a sushi roll can have. The Market Square roll, for example, is a mix of tuna, salmon, crab, avocado and asparagus that eschews the rice border, replacing it with crispy, thin-sliced cucumber and including a side of addictive garlic ponzu. I thought the cucumber was a little overpowering at first, dominating in my palate over the other ingredients, but when I peeled off some of the exterior layers, I liked the balance of flavors combined with the healthy, fresh crunch.
But the real star was the renzi roll, a combination of shrimp tempura, crab meat and cucumber topped with slices of avocado and pepper tuna, presented in a pretty circle over a zesty cilantro pesto sauce. It was sweet and creamy without feeling too heavy, and the pesto really added a kick and a flavor profile you don't often see in sushi. Truly sushi to the next level (if not exactly conveyor belt material).
There's no shortage of sushi restaurants downtown, either of the high-end or pre-packaged variety, but by staking out the middle ground — and adding a gimmick that people seem to enjoy — Convey could do well.