YO!, the Japanese sushi and street food restaurant, is bringing the art of Chindogu, Ã¢â‚¬Å“useless inventionsÃ¢â‚¬Â, to the UK to offer a helping hand with all sorts of common issues facing diners.
Chindogu, the brainchild of 72-year-old Japanese inventor Kenji Kawakami, are gadgets to solve everyday issues that aren’t usually thought to be worth solving. The selfie stick, for example, was a Chindogu invention in the 90’s that was developed when smartphones became commonplace.
The YO! Chindogu menu pairs four gadgets with the perfect dish to give a unique eating experience.
First up is the noodle cooler Ã¢â‚¬â€œ a fan contraption that clips onto your chopsticks to help cool down your noodles to optimum temperature before they reach your mouth. Served with a spicy seafood udon which could pack a bit more of a punch when it comes to the chilli heat, this was a fun invention.
Next, the ever-so-funny noodle splash guard. This item was brilliant, and when you put it on it makes you look like a flower in a school play. This was served with a miso dumpling ramen which did splash a lot Ã¢â‚¬â€œ especially when the dumpling broke in the middle and fell back into the broth. Although, the splash guard didn’t save my jumper from that one.
My personal favourite was the wasabi stick. I want, no need, one of these for my daily life. The wasabi stick was fashioned a little like a deodorant stick which you could then use to smother your sushi in a layer of fiery wasabi. The salmon nigiri Ã¢â‚¬â€œ rice topped with fresh cut salmon Ã¢â‚¬â€œ it was served with was a bit flavourless, so you definitely needed a good kick of wasabi to bring the dish to life.
The final invention was the napkin hat. This essentially looked like a cross between a head torch and a toilet roll holder. Not very glamorous at all. The purpose? To avoid that embarrassing tell-tale curry mark around your lips from the scrumptious pumpkin katsu curry.
While I’m not too sure why YO! has decided to use pumpkin on a menu that is being launched in March Ã¢â‚¬â€œ with the traditional season running from October-December Ã¢â‚¬â€œ this was by far my favourite dish and also I think my new favourite katsu curry dish. Much better than tofu as a vegetarian option, and even better I think than chicken. And, in fairness to the invention, while I don’t think it will catch on it was a very useful way to have napkins to hand.
Overall, the Chindogu menu is a little bit of fun, and definitely creates some funny photo moments. I was a little bit disappointed by the food as I’ve always enjoyed the offering at YO! but found it all a little bland in comparison Ã¢â‚¬â€œ maybe it was suffering from style over substance.
If you find yourself in either the Southbank, Kensington or Newcastle Grainger St restaurants from the 19th to 25th March, they are definitely worth giving a go.