Tom says YO to a surprisingly good value deal in the middle of Blue Water Shopping Centre
When I was 11 I went to the Millennium Dome. I remember it being massive, and white, and full of interesting things but I don’t really remember what any of those things were. This will, I’m sure, be partly due to my terrible memory but also because I got completely distracted from all meaningful exhibitions by an outpost of YO! Sushi.
Where I grew up the most international food got was the Chinese takeaway, or solid favourite Bengal Cottage, so watching all these colourful plates snaking their way around a restaurant full of unknown dishes and raw fish blew my mind.
I didn’t eat at YO! Sushi when I was 11, or for the 15 years that followed, and slowly, as my tastes expanded and I spent my weekends hunting down the next niche meal, I forgot about them and the impact they had on a sausage-and-mash-eating, eleven year old version of me.
Forgot about them until last weekend.
Until the 23rd September YO! Sushi are running their annual YO! Festival meaning that on weekday lunchtimes the restaurants cap the price of 46 plates to that of their blue plate dishes – £2.80. On route to Whitstable on a Friday afternoon this seemed like the perfect time to finally visit and I’m glad I did.
I wouldn’t usually choose to eat in a shopping centre. I wouldn’t really choose to do anything in a shopping centre apart from shop as quickly as possible and leave, but in fairness there were no screaming children, or teenagers listening to grime, and we were greeted and seated by an extremely friendly host.
YO! Sushi isn’t, as some may think, just about sushi and so we ordered a few of the hot items on the menu and a couple of Asahi then grabbed a dish or two as they trundled past our table. Inari were pillow-y and swallowed up soy sauce a treat. Salmon Maki weren’t exactly exciting but solid.
Many new restaurants, I feel, are scared of gadgets and quirks. Even table cloths can be seen as’over-doing it’ in the stripped back dining rooms of East London. Unsurprisingly YO! Sushi, with its conveyor belt line, isn’t one of these. Small buzzers on the tables can be used to call staff over, and I particularly like the still and sparkling water taps built into the tables.
Duck Gyoza were passed over by one of the chefs and delivered the crunch I was hoping for giving way to a reasonable amount of duck filling. Chicken Katsu Curry was a hearty portion with a proper dollop of curry sauce and Spicy Pepper Squid was tasty although absent of spice.
We finished with a plate of Dorayaki, pancake like pouches with a custard filling and a small pot of coulis on the side.
On the whole, whether it’s due to snobbery or standards, I’m not usually a fan of chain, shopping centre restaurants. Food quality tends to be low, staff suicidal, and they’re never as cheap as you feel they should be but YO! Sushi was without doubt an exception. Ok, so the food is never going to change the world but it made for a good lunch stop, the service was spot on and our entire bill with beers would’ve been little over £25.
Whether you’re 11 years of age, 26 or 75, there will always be something slightly exciting about grabbing your dinner off a moving conveyor belt too.
The YO! Festival runs until the 25th September at all restaurants apart from Bournemouth, Edinburgh Airport, Edinburgh Princes St, Gatwick North, Heathrow T2 & T3, London Harvey Nics, London Selfridges, Southbank, St Pancras, Westfield White City. For more information visit yosushi.com/yo-festival.
Lower Guild Hall, House of Fraser, Bluewater DA9 9SB
Feeling a little flusher? Nick had a cracking time down in Bordeaux
Or staying on the Japanese theme don’t forget about the Japan Centre’s pop-up fair later this month