I know, I know. Food bloggers shouldn’t write about chains. They should write about independents and hidden gems that you might not know about. Well, I like to think I do that most of the time. But since I recently had my first visit to Yo! Sushi, I figured if I – at the ripe old age of 33 – hadn’t been there before, maybe there would be others. Plus, I couldn’t help but take some snaps so wanted to share them with you. My pal is a massive fan of Yo! Sushi so we mooched along to the new one in Birmingham’s much-heralded Grand Central to take a look.
When we mentioned that we’d been to Yo! Sushi at work, our boss dubbed it ‘McSushi’. I can kind of see where he’s coming from. I haven’t had sushi much, and I don’t think I’ve had the best sushi you can have, but I know this probably it’s it. It’s conveyor belt food, quite literally, but that’s part of the fun.
The concept’s simple. There’s a colour-coding system where different coloured plates cost different amounts, so you know what kind of a bill you’re racking up – and trust me, it’s easy to grab plate after plate after plate. Sushi, sashimi, salads, all come zooming past and it’s all too tempting to grab each one. That’s before you’ve even got to the hot dishes – katsus, curries, noodles, teriyaki dishes. Stuff I hadn’t even heard of, and definitely an improvement on some of the supermarket sushi that’s made up my most recent experiences. Press a call button, order what you want, then watch the chefs whip it up and chuck it over at you.
So with my expert guide (who’s vegetarian by the way – well, pescatarian), we got underway. We started with some sashimi – first salmon, then yellowfin tuna. What can I say, I love raw fish, so this was fine by me.
And then we were in the realm of Hannah’s expertise – so started working our way through her favourites. First up, Pumpkin Katsu. Sweet, soft pumpkin in crispy fried Panko breadcrumbs. We also tried a Tofu Katsu Curry which I have to say, was the most I’ve ever enjoyed tofu.It was literally melt in the mouth, again coated in breadcrumbs, in a yummy curry sauce, served with rice.
As much as I enjoy fish and veggie food, I couldn’t resist trying the beef teriyaki after I saw one fly past. Sticky, rich, and generally gorgeous, I could’ve eaten this 10 times over. We tried Vegetable Gyoza – small, crispy Japanese dumplings with a dipping sauce to go with them. I suggested the Kimchee salmon steamed bun. The bun was soft and light, although I have to confess it didn’t blow me away – I’d have swapped it easily for another helping of beef.
Dishes carried on whizzing past but we finally had to admit defeat – after saving room for a quick dessert. I thought that fruit salad might be a bit boring, so opted to share Hannah’s Custard Dorayaki. Almost like a scotch pancake sandwich with thick set custard in between and some raspberry coulis to dip into.
After this, we were done. Plates stacked up, we resisted temptation to scoff any more and got the bill. £36 for both of us – yeah, not the cheapest meal, but not too bad either. It’s not like we paid too much attention to the colours of the plates we were picking (unlike the people a few bar stools down from us who appeared to be deliberately choosing the cheapest dishes on the menu). We had a nice lunch, lots of fun, and some tasty food.
No, serious food critics, I’m not saying Yo! Sushi is a great example of top class sushi. I’m not suggesting people choose chains over independents. It has its place among the eaterie pecking order, as many restaurants – indeedy many chains – do. But what I do think it offers is an accessible way of trying food that not everyone among us may have had the luck or inclination to sample previously. Even as we sat for our lunch, we watched people wander over, intrigued by the set-up and decide to try sushi for the first time. And if Yo! Sushi encourages that, then – you know what – cool!
We paid for our meal at Yo! Sushi. They didn’t know I was a blogger.