If you ever get the chance I highly recommend the counter sushi experience. However, most people's introduction to sushi is through the ubiquitous sushi train restaurants.
In Japan, sushi train restaurants are everywhere and have made sushi accessible to those whose wallets and purses are not weighed down with money.
For a family of four, a sushi train visit in Japan can easily be had for about 3-5,000 yen. That's around $30-50 for about 20-30 plates of sushi with two pieces to a plate. A counter sushi experience per person is at least 4,000 yen for 10-12 plates with a single piece of sushi piece per plate.
Notwithstanding the difference in quality, you can see why sushi train is so popular.
The sushi train experience Sydney is a tad more expensive though with the cheapest prices hovering around the $3 per plate mark. That's about 250 yen per plate, or over twice as expensive as its cheapest equivalent in Japan.
Now though that seems depressing for sushi fans in Sydney I have to admit that the quality of produce isn't all that bad in Sydney (remember, we're talking cheap sushi train here, not the higher end places).
While the range and variety of toppings pales in comparison to Japan, there is usually a distinct difference in flavour between the sushi in Sydney. The cheap sushi train chain stores in Japan are often characterised by a just-removed-from-the-fridge taste. I haven't found that taste as common in Sydney.
Like Japan, Sydney restaurants will usually have a standout dish. In Japan, I've found that yellowtail has been consistently the more enjoyable sushi train topping. Sydney's standout for me tends to be the mackerel and the salmon.
As you try different places be aware that you don't have to eat everything on offer. If you want to get the best experience and value for money, then stick to that restaurant's go-to servings.
You can often find lunchtime specials with the more pricier toppings reduced to match those of the rank and file sushi. Makoto Sushi in Chatswood is one such place with a weekday lunchtime special seeing everything priced at $3. It's a good deal so my advice is to stick to those discounted plates.
If there aren't any specials on offer then just ask the staff what they recommend. Or even other diners. Once you do find that go-to sushi, enjoy it.
Outside of a winning lottery ticket, it may turn out to be the best couple of dollars you'll spend.