For me and Mr M, a never-ending conveyor belt of food is a bit like a dream really. I don’t think you see it in many places other than sushi joints. Interesting really, since the idea that led to conveyor-belt sushi could just as easily apply to various other cuisines, but perhaps we should be glad, as I’m not sure how much I’d get done in life if it was one conveyor belt of goodies after another.
Of course, I’ve been to Yo! Sushi before and found it a fun experience with pretty decent food to boot. I also visited the Leamington Spa branch as part of Regent Court’s Fiesta of Flavours to learn how to make sushi, but not actually dined there, so when I was invited back to try out some of the new items on the menu, I decided to introduce Mr M to all the sushi splendour of Yo!
You probably all know how it works by now – conveyor belt whizzes round carrying all manner of good things, from sashimi, maki and nigiri, to side dishes, desserts and more. And then there’s a whole load of hot street food dishes that you can order from your waiter or waitress (after calling them over with the hi-tech button). Each dish is on a colour-coded plate, with each colour equating to a different price point. Simples.
The purpose of our visit was to try some of the new additions to the already-expansive menu, but since it was Jamie’s first visit we decided to try a few classics too, just to give him the full experience.
We started with the salmon selection – sushi, sashimi and maki all on one plate. Simple, yes, but it was good. I don’t think I’ll ever get bored with the way salmon looks when it’s fresh and uncooked 🙂
Still on the sushi section, we grabbed a Beef Nigiri – seared beef with nori and chilli shichimi powder all wrapped up in pretty parcels. Again, simple but tasty and full of flavour, not to mention pretty.
Slightly concerned that he was going to keep grabbing things off the conveyor belt without us even getting to the hot dishes, I took over. I know we were there to try the new dishes, but I couldn’t resist going for a few classics, like the chicken katsu curry which is one of my faves. I love the crispy crumb hidden underneath sweet, slightly spicy curry sauce.
I’m happy to say some of the new dishes were super appealing, like the ‘Osaka Style Squid’ – topped with bonito flakes, aonori, beni shoga, mayo and tonkatsu. Now I don’t know what some of those are, but they sure looked pretty and tasted good.
One thing I definitely know about is the bonito flakes. They slightly freaked us out when we first saw them, moving around in the heat and the air in the restaurant as if they were actually living (or some kind of voodoo!). Mildly concerned about what they were , we asked, and it turns out bonito flakes are dried, fermented, and smoked skipjack tuna. So now you’ll know when your plate starts doing a little dance in front of your face.
Moving fish aside, the squid was cooked right and not overdone, while the combination of chilli, spring onion, mayo and the intense umami of the bonito hit the spot.
We also couldn’t resist the tempura soft shell crab. Another simple one, it was served plain with sweet chilli mayo. I’m happy to say the batter was nice and light – a welcome relief after the last tempura softshell crab (not at a Yo! Sushi) I had that was coated in such a thick better there was no point even trying to identify what was inside.
Another new one on the menu was the Pork Belly Bao – pork belly marinated in a sweet sticky sauce served in a traditional steamed bun with pickled red onion, cucumber and sesame. It was nice, though I have to say didn’t knock my socks off quite as I’d have hoped. Nothing to do with the execution, I think I’d have just perhaps preferred the pork belly on its own without the bun, or perhaps at least more of it….(hey, maybe I’m just greedy).
Another one that definitely wasn’t top of my list was the Inari, though it’s fair to say our primary motivation for choosing this dish was curiosity rather than the idea that we might love it.
Inari are basically sweet parcels of soft bean curd filled with sticky rice. They actually look more like desserts than part of the main menu – and taste like desserts too. Again, it could be personal taste – I’m just not particularly good with sweet mixed into my savoury (like, why do people put fruit in main courses?!) – but these didn’t do it for me.
What did, however, was the Takoyaki – apparently ‘Osaka’s No.1 street food!’ Similar to the Osaka Style Squid, these lightly battered balls of octopus topped with mayo and bonito were a flavour-packed, fun combination of tastes and textures.
The Pork Teriyaki, another new item on the menu, was exactly how pork belly should be – tender meat, with a generous ribbon of melt-in-the-mouth fat running alongside, served simply and garnished with spring onion. My only question mark would fall over the addition of hard-boiled egg, which just didn’t work for me. It seemed like a bit of an unnecessary addition to an already decent course.
Our final foray was a new addition to the Katsu menu – beef in crispy panko crumb coated in fruity tonkatsu sauce. Again, everything it should be, the crispy coating hiding a tender middle and the fruity sauce bringing a slight sweetness (but not too much, otherwise clearly I wouldn’t have approved) to the dish. Another decent dish.
As dessert time came, Mr M was again drawn in by the conveyor belt, eagerly waiting for sweets to make their way round to him. As we waited to spot some sweets, we ordered an Apple Gyoza, another one of my faves. This probably makes me a bit of a heathen, but these sweet crispy apple-filled dumplings sort of remind me of McDonald’s apple pies, but better. And hey, who’s going to say not to a mini tub of salted miso caramel?
As two slightly comedy looking brown balls were about to disappear past us, we decided we couldn’t help but grab them and so both took our first leap into the world of mochi. If you haven’t had mochi, they’re basically sweet rice balls with some kind of filling inside, often ice cream but in this case a rich chocolate ganache.
If you haven’t had mochi, you should try it now. It’s unlike anything I’ve ever tried, especially in texture, and is one of those slightly enigmatic dishes that leaves you wondering whether you love it or absolutely hate it, yet keeps you taking bite after bite. I decided I really do like them, and loved the simplistic appearance that hides a somewhat more complex dessert a country mile from any other sweet you’d get elsewhere.
While he also enjoyed the Mochi, we couldn’t leave without Mr M getting his hands on one of the new Malted Chocolate Pots – exactly what it says on the tin basically. Probably the most traditional dish of the night, but the right thing to satisfy his slight chocolate addiction before we headed home leaving a pile of empty plates in our wake.
I’m happy to say my second visit to Yo! Sushi was just as much fun as the first, and the food as good. No, I am not suggesting that it is the finest sushi in the land, or an eating experience that will completely blow you away and change your life forever.
But I think it’s great that Yo! Sushi makes what could to some people be a slightly intimidating cuisine accessible and fun. The food is well presented and executed, the service is friendly and efficient, and the concept is different to pretty much anything else you’ll try.
If you like formal and traditional then this may not be for you – pressing a button for a waiter or the occasional crazy sound effects broadcast around the restaurant. But if you want a bit of fun and a bite to eat with friends, family or loved ones, then have a try. You might just like it.
I was invited to Yo! Sushi in Leamington Spa’s Regent Court to try the new items on the menu. Our meal was complimentary but we paid for our drinks.
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