• Roxii Hoare-Smith

YO Sushi Kensington

YO! Sushi has firmly cemented itself as one of the UK’s favourite Japanese restaurant chains. But it wasn’t until last week that I finally lost my YO! Sushi virginity, and I was left wondering why it look me so long!?

I’ve been very narrowed sighted for years when I thought of YO! Sushi. I always assumed it would be just seafood and that the small dishes weren’t very filling. But I was completely wrong.

I’m not great with eating seafood (I love it but my stomach doesn’t) so I have always avoided visiting sushi restaurants. I was pleasantly surprised that during our visit to YO! Sushi I didn’t eat one portion of fish as the menu was so varied, plus the portions were so filling we practically rolled out of the place. YO! Sushi completely blew me away and is my ideal place where I can have a taste of one of my favourite cities, in my other favourite city (it’s a tough battle between London and Tokyo for me you see!) It’s the best place to eat away my Tokyo blues.

We visited the High Street Kensington branch on a sunny Friday evening. The restaurant is really easy to get to as it is located just a 5 minute walk from the underground.

The restaurant is bright and ‘very Tokyo’ with it’s multicoloured bowls, lime green booths and brightly lit blue bar. The light streams through floor-to-ceiling windows so that restaurant is really bright, perfect for photos, and the televisions were playing Japanese pop. This is my ideal place and I cannot believe this is the first time I have stepped foot into a branch!

We were taken to our booth and gave our drink orders to Robert who was our waiter for the evening. Robert was so helpful explaining how everything worked, especially as it was our first time there.

From our table we were able to help ourselves to dishes from the belt which was circulating the restaurant. Any warm dishes we wanted, or anything we couldn’t see on the belt, we could order with Robert.

There are buttons on the table to get your servers attention when you are ready to place an order. This reminded me of a memory of Tokyo I’d completely forgotten! During our trip to Tokyo we found it common to find these buttons in restaurants, not just sushi places either. You would just push when you were ready for the waiter to take your order. It’s very efficient and saves your server from keep going back and forth if you takes you a while to decide what to order (there’s so much to choose from it won’t be a rushed job, trust me!).

From the belt we grabbed:

Potato Salada – an izakaya classic, apparently!

Just like my favourite traditional potato salad dish, this was creamy and flavoursome but with an exotic kick from the pickled vegetables and karashi mustard mayo.

Avocado Maki – soft avocado in mayo nori roll.

This is a great budget dish, 6 pieces for £2.15 and so so filling. I’d tempted to visit during my lunch break just for a few plates of these.

Spicy chicken roll – Crispy katsu chicken nori roll with shichimi powder and tonkatsu sauce.

These were amazing, I just wish it came with a few more rolls on the plate! I’ll definitely be ordering this when we visit again soon.

It was getting pretty addictive picking our dishes from the belt but there was so much I wanted to order from the hot dishes menu so I had to limit myself.

We had to try London’s new favourite dish, Poke – pronounced poh-keh. Poke is inspired by the flavour and freshness of the Hawaiian Islands.

We went for the chicken Poke which is just 359 calories. Poke is a salad dish with our choice of the shichimi marinated grilled chicken with kaiso seaweed, Japanese pickles and yuzu furikake on a bed of rice.

The bowl was huge and filled to the brim. It’s very refreshing and really healthy and is priced from just £3.50. The bowl was so full we weren’t able to very finish it between the two of us!

From the hot dishes menu we ordered a classic (in Britain anyway) Japanese dish: Chicken Katsu.

We went for the sumo size to share between the two of us, but I think there was plenty to feed a whole table!

The has to be the best Katsu dish I have tried in London, so far. It was so authentic, the flavours took me back to Harajuku and the Katsu lunch we had there back in June.

Showing off my chopstick skills…thankfully it came with a spoon though.

We also feasted on one of my favourite Japanese dishes, Okonomiyaki.

Okonomoyaki is a dish with authentic Japanese cabbage filled with savoury pancake topped with mayo, katsu sauce spring onions and smoked bonito.

Then we just about had room for Hoison duck with house pickled cucumber in a steamed fluffy Hirata bun.

To finish we tried YO! Sushi’s new ice cream Mochi, which was available to pick off the belt.

The gluten-free desserts are sweet rice balls with an ice cream centre. We tried Salted Caramel, Mango, Coconut and Black Sesame. YO! Sushi is the only stockist of the Limited Edition Salted Caramel flavour!

The Mochi balls are so refreshing and the perfect palate cleanser.

We had such a wonderful evening and I’ll definitely be coming back soon. It took me back to our trip to Tokyo with memories of flavours I’d completely forgotten about.

The service and dishes were absolutely flawless. The only improvement I would mention is I wish they had a bigger alcoholic drink list with a few more wine varieties and perhaps a few ciders.

You can view the food menus here. The prices vary per branch, at the High Street Kensington branch plates vary between £2.15 up to £8.50 for sumo dishes.

We visited YO! Sushi in Kensington but there are branches all over the UK.

Find our local branch here.

Photography by myself and Karl Cowell.

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