When Laura and I were in London a few years back, we found a restaurant named Yo! Sushi that had a creative solution to a sushi problem: the wait. Sushi takes time to make, and people inevitably put in a large order right before you. How did they mitigate your down time? A conveyor belt! The stock it full of goodies, prepped and easily at hand. You can still order normally, and not all items are on the belt, but it really does save a ton of time. And it’s so much fun! A quick word of caution, though, as it’s very easy to get carried away and spend more than you typically would as you get sampler plates instead of whole rolls. Keep an eye on the number of plates you’re accumulating and their color, which denotes how much the plate costs, so you have a handle on what you’re spending. (Check out their Blue Monday specials and you’ll save a good deal of cash.) Much to our surprise and delight, we found that Yo! Sushi had moved into International Mall.
Laura and I decided to do a little picking from the belt and ordering some from the kitchen. We began with a set of tamago, which is a syrupy egg over rice that has absorbed some of that sweetness, bound together by a small strip of seaweed. This is one of our favorites and they did not disappoint, with the egg and rice having a hint of maple flavor.
We also tried an appetizer of kaiso, seaweed marinated with su-miso sauce over some white rice, all wrapped in nori. The seaweed is a pleasantly chewy and tends to try to stick in your teeth, but its sweet tanginess more than compensates you for the need to bring along some floss. Again, the rice in the dish is the beneficiary of what rests on top of it.
Next up was takoyaki, a dough ball that was lightly battered and fried. The dough inside was ooey gooey, unexpectedly floating under the stiff crust of the ball. Floating hidden within the warm dough were tender pieces of octopus, reminding you this isn’t a desert but a savory item straight from Japan. Bonito flakes on top reinforce this, their waiflike shavings actually moving due to the heat coming off the shell of the balls. A little mayo and a dark sauce completed the appetizer. Eating the takoyaki was a unique experience for us, one that we’d gladly repeat.
Laura and I both were drawn to the chicken chahan, a rice dish that promised to give a bit more filler to the meal. The Japanese rice was sticky enough to be able to use chopsticks to eat but remained fluffy and contained grilled chicken, sesame seed oil, the odd vegetable here and there, and chopped chives. The bowl was exactly what we needed to ground us, being a tad solid and meaty while still light.
The king of the meal was the salmon steamed Hirata bun. The salmon was expertly cooked, grilled to pink flakiness and marinated in a mild kimchi with mayo and sesame seeds added on top. Fresh herbs and lettuce gave some vibrancy to the salmon. Raw onions, their bite mellowed by the vinegary pickling juice but not gone, were an integral ingredient, giving the salmon a new angle on your taste buds. The pillow like bun was perfection itself, soft as cotton and an ideal way to hold the whole thing together. We had some really delicious things to eat, but this, with all its separate pieces taken as a single bite of mixed flavors, trumped them all.
Yo! Sushi is a great place to go with friends or take a date to, with its small portions, whimsical conveyor belt, and adventurous feel. It’s got plenty of built in opportunities for conversation, from the myriad of mini plates, to the half-menu half-magazine at each table. (The stories and articles inside were very interesting and added to an already enjoyable experience.) Choose from a variety of foods, from sushi to mochi ice cream. There’s a selection of teas, sake, and wines to accompany your meal. Pay them a visit and get swept up in the marvel of this phenomenon that has managed to sail across oceans to take root here in Tampa.
Yo! Sushi (International Mall)
2223 N Westshore Blvd
Tampa, FL 33607