100 Things About Me

Yo! Sushi, originally uploaded by jpundt79.

82: I don't eat fish. Much.

I can’t stand fish. The smell, the texture, the idea. I’ll watch cookery programmes and marvel at the cookery process, the choice of flavours, the philosophy, but can’t imagine why I would put it in my mouth, least of having dealt with possible bones. It wasn’t always this way – I used to love prawn and crab and salmon. But somewhere in my late tweens, something psychological happened and the closest I’ll get to a cod now is if it's covered in batter and nestling next to some chips as far away from its natural form and shape as possible (even though sometimes it gives me the trots) (you weren’t expecting me to say that where you?).

Which should make a visit to Yo! Sushi an insane idea. All of that raw fish. But I like the novelty of the little plates passing by on a conveyor belt and my Dad wanted to see what it was like. I think I might have disillusioned him slightly when I explained that it wasn’t a Japanese company but set up by a British entrepreneur in the late nineties after a visit to Tokyo. Since then it has gone global, though no restaurants have been set up in Japan. I wonder what that would be like, coals to Newcastle I suppose, Café Nerro pitching up in Seattle or Pizza/Pasta Hut in Italy.

When I last visited, at a Selfridge's somewhere, the only alternative was to vegetable, but by now the slogan ‘more than just sushi’ has been added to the window and I was thankful to see that various types of poultry and meat have been added to the mebu which might feel like cheating to a weary visitor but from a business perspective means they can attract a wider crowd of cheater. They've also added a big red button to the table to press for service which saves on trying to attract someone’s attention. I’m not sure how the staff know they’re needed. Perhaps an implant is added to the brain during the induction.

It must be one of the more difficult places for staff to work. Apart from the beck and call button, they have to work in front of the public as we scrutinise their every move even when they make a mistake. It’s fascinating to watch the meals prepared though, the rice wrapped around the main ingredient and the giant leaf after that before being cut into slices. Not that you can always identify what that ingredient is and half the fun is trying to match the little photographs on the menu with the reality.

You sit at the bar and watch the little colour coded dishes pass by, ironically like fish in a stream, now and putting your hand out to hook something to eat. It’s addictive, and as the plates pile up you end up only having a vague notion of how much its all costing and it always seems to be the expensive pink dishes that have the yummier food. Between courses you can hypnotically watching the little plastic plates going around and round as some things returned again and again right through the lunch hour, when something like a collection of noodles had been roundly ignored for over twenty minutes.

Dad’s less squeamish about edible marine life, so was very pleased with his salmon and squid and king prawns, and though I liked the crispy chicken and crispy tofu and omelette, I was a bit disappointed with the spicy chicken which was a bit cold and hard. Considering the price of some of the dishes, I don’t think anything was particularly exceptional, especially the chicken dumpling soup which was just about inedible. That’s a result of mass production, I suppose, and attempting to produce a variety of foods to suite a range of tastes, for people like me whose pallet might not necessarily be attuned to some of the subtler flavours.

The only other disappointment was that we seemed to spend most of the meal asking for things they didn’t have in because of a missed delivery. No seared beef, no crab, none of the particular variety of chicken needed for a few of the dishes. Our waiter was looking increasingly frustrated that he had to keep telling offering us alternatives and the last straw was at the end when it became apparent they’d run out of the desert we’d ordered. But he gave us something similar on the house which was nice of him. He looked tired and harassed too, and I suppose I would too if I was being run ragged by people enjoying the novelty of a big red service button that lights up.

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