Review: Yo! Sushi, Newcastle
The new menu here is a delight – just try not to let the conveyor belt intimidate you
Think of Panic! At The Disco’s oeuvre or the Sylvester Stallone vehicle Stop! Or My Mom Will Shoot. Up to this point, Aardman’s film Pirates! In An Adventure With Scientists! had been the only example of a good thing with exclamation marks in it (possibly because they doubled up on them; take note, guys) but now it’s been joined by Yo! Sushi. Well, I say ‘now’; you’ve probably been to one before somewhere around the country, but Newcastle’s branch has just shuffled its menu.
The newly rejigged menu can seem a little overwhelming at first, especially for diners whose deepest experience of Japanese gastronomy is those sad little chunks of congealed rice topped with an apologetic flop of fish which litter supermarket shelves at the end of a long day. Happily for us cultural ignoramuses, the Yo! Sushi menu is colour coded so you know roughly what you’re getting yourself into when you snatch something appealing from the conveyor belt, and our cheery waiter was happy to break things down further when it was clear that even that was too difficult for us.
(You can, if you like, just ask for anything on the menu too. It’s a restaurant. They do that kind of thing. Don’t feel beholden to the conveyor belt. It’s just a piece of industrial hardware serving bowls of food; it’s not the boss of you.)
After a bit of dithering we grabbed a few bowls and got on with it. The beef teriyaki was exactly as stickily dark and tangsome as you’d hope, but it was in the nibbly sharing bits department that Yo! Sushi came into its own. The hotate katsu, panko-coated Hokkaido scallops with a wasabi sauce were pretty intensely satisfying and then, emboldened by the success of the seafood, we got some popcorn shrimp and some spicy pepper squid. Both were absolutely excellent; squid is all about texture, and this one put up just enough resistance before yielding. The popcorn shrimp in tempura batter with shiro miso and chilli sauce was even better, all crunch and supple, juicy fleshiness.
Then, takoyaki: battered dough balls with octopus topped with mayo and bonito. The menu says it’s ‘Osaka’s number one’, and while Wikipedia tells me that in actual fact, Hiroyuki Takeda was Cerezo Osaka FC’s goalkeeper last season, its pleasurably claggy and crisp textures and unexpectedly punchy, complex flavour was well worth the praise. Then we had salmon, because salmon is always better than no salmon, and very good salmon is even better still. Yo Sushi’s salmon is the latter.
Food aside, Yo! Sushi is a buzzy place to eat. Not having been to Japan, I can’t speak to how authentic an experience it is, but the constant whizz and whirr of both its conveyor belt and its central island of chefs frying, chopping and serving gives it an enjoyable sense of just-controlled chaos. Its great strength is in its malleability: got half an hour for lunch? Pop in and grab a couple of bits of sushi and some sashimi. Catching up with a pal? Graze on bowls of shareable nibbles like our popcorn shrimp. Show that conveyor belt who’s boss.
139–141 Grainger Street, Newcastle NE1 5AE
0191 338 5052