Restaurant review: YO! Sushi – St David’s Shopping Centre, Cardiff

Cardiff has a growing number of quality Japanese restaurants, my favourite being Mt. Fuji in St David’s Shopping Centre, closely followed by Yakitori#1 in Cardiff Bay and Tenkaichi on City Road, Cathays (I am yet to get to Ichiban, but from what I’ve heard it’s pretty decent there too!)

When I went along to YO! Sushi in St David’s Shopping Centre, Cardiff recently to try out some new dishes along with food blogger, Imran from Kitchen Clonc, I was a little unsure of what to expect. I’ve never been to YO! Sushi before and I didn’t want to get my hopes up, as I wasn’t convinced the food would be on par with the independent restaurants I’ve been to. 

Founded in 1997 by British entrepreneur, Simon Woodroffe in Soho, London, YO! Sushi now has well over 50 UK outlets, in addition to restaurants in Ireland, Denmark, Norway, the United Arab Emirates and the United States. 

Best known for its Japanese conveyor belt-style approach to food service, YO! Sushi serves a range of sushi dishes in addition to traditional Japanese main courses, such as chicken katsu curry and ramen noodle soups. Diners can either pick dishes up from the conveyor belt or order fresh from the menu. The price of each dish is determined by a colour scheme; there are seven colours and seven prices, ranging from £1.90 to £6. For some dishes, there is also an option for a larger, ‘Sumo Me’ portion at £8.50. 

Conveyor-belt food service at YO! Sushi

Traditionally, YO! Sushi’s menu was grouped according to these colour schemes. However, plates are now categorised according to the type of dish they represent; this may take some getting used to for some of YO! Sushi’s regulars. Alongside a selection of sushi dishes, the restaurant offers a variety of popular Japanese foods including gyoza (dumplings), teriyaki-glazed meat, Katsu (coated in panko breadcrumbs), miso and ramen noodles, soups and broths, and more. 

Asahi Japanese beer

As we waited for our first course to arrive I sipped on a crisp, dry Asahi beer (£3.90 for 330ml; £5.20 for 500ml) – one of Japan’s most popular beers.

In just a few minutes, our first course was sitting in front of us. The sushi roll selection (£5) was a trio of generously-sized sushi rolls including Ichi-Ni-San (scallop, salmon, tuna, cucumber and yuzu koshu nori roll with Arenkha caviar), Ginza (fresh salmon, cream cheese and cucumber with arenkha caviar, teriyaki, sriracha and mayo) and Spider (soft-shelled crap and pickled ginger with yuzu tobiko and sweet chilli sauce). This was the perfect start to our meal. The plate was full of colour, while each roll tasted fresh and flavoursome; I wouldn’t hesitate to order a portion of these to myself. 

California Sushi Rolls

The roll selection was accompanied by a dish of potato and pickled vegetables in karashi mustard mayo dressing (£1.90), traditonally eaten in an Izakaya (a  type of Japanese gastro-bar, commonly associated with after-work drinking). A twist on the potato salad as we know it, this dish was creamy and tangy with a subtle fiery kick.

Japanese potato salad

We moved on to a hot bowl of chazuke (£3.90) – salmon, seabass, shiso leaf, yuzu koshu, rice and nori in a fragrant umami broth. This really wasn’t to our liking; the broth had a strong fishy taste and the flaky texture of the cooked fish, combined with the rice, was a little too much for my stomach to handle. 

Salmon, seabass and rice in broth

The chazuke was followed by three portions of nigiri-style sushi, including the ama ebi (£3.40, pictured below) – raw shrimp on a bed of rice, served with traditional wasabi and nori. The shrimp had a pleasant, slightly sweet taste, although the texture seemed a little mushy.

Shrimp sushi

The saba nigiri (£3.40) consisted of teriyaki-glazed, cured mackerel and chopped spring onion. I’ve never tried mackerel in sushi before, so this was a first for me. It was difficult to detect the teriyaki glaze and I wasn’t overly keen on the texture of the fish, although I did like its slightly smoky flavour.  

Teryaki mackerel sushi

The third nigiri sushi dish that we tried was the tako (£3.40); this consisted of thinly sliced, soft-poached octopus (something I’ve never been able to bring myself to try) with wasabi and nori. I was going to give it a go, but Imran tried it and thought that it was a little tough and fishy-tasting, so I decided to play it safe and give this dish a miss. 

Octopus sushi

However, I was more than happy to tuck into our next dish of seabass nanbanzuke (£4.30) – a colourful arrangement of sweet and sour seabass, pickles and vegetables served with rice. Served pan-fried and slightly crispy, the sea-bass was tender and bone-free and the mixed pickles and veg introduced new flavours to the dish. 

Sweet and sour seabass

The buta no kakuni (£4.30) was definitely one of the best things I tasted all evening. Succulent chunks of slow-braised pork belly and daikon (winter radish) were nestled in an aromatic, sweet soy sauce that sank deep into the rice beneath. Japanese comfort food at its best. 

Japanese slow-braised belly pork

The last of the main courses we tried (although by no means the least!), the taba no karage (£4.30) included three medium-sized portions of some of the crispiest fried chicken wings I’ve ever had the pleasure of devouring, served with a wedge of lime. 

Japanese fried crispy chicken

We were feeling comfortably full after sharing no less than nine plates between us, so we were going to give dessert a miss. However, YO! Sushi also offers food to takeaway and so Steve offered to pop a dessert in a take-out box for us to indulge in at home later – an offer we simply couldn’t refuse!

Pictured below, YO! Sushi’s take-out boxes (or ‘Hot Boxes’ as their known), are made from sturdy, thick cardboard, making them ideal for transporting freshly-cooked hot food as well as cold dishes.

YO! Sushi takeaway box

We tried out the Japanese souffle cheesecake (£4.30). Soft and moist, this was almost like a cross between a light sponge cake and a thick pudding. I would definitely order it again at YO! Sushi, although I’d be equally as tempted to work my way around the other six delectable dessert options on the menu, like the matcha green tea sponge and the apple gyoza.

Japanese souffle cheesecake

In ways, I think I was right to be wary of my first visit to YO! Sushi – the quality of the food was by no means poor, but it wasn’t as good as food I’ve tasted previously at Cardiff’s independent Japanese restaurants. However, the relatively low cost of most dishes is a big selling point for YO! Sushi and for some, this may compensate for the differences in quality. In addition, I was a big fan of the conveyor-belt and I enjoyed watching the food being prepared in the open-plan kitchen.

If you’re thinking of visiting YO! Sushi I recommend going there on a Monday, when you can choose from no less than 36 dishes from the conveyor-belt for just £2.80 each, as part of the ongoing ‘Blue Mondays’ promotion!

YO! Sushi Cardiff
St David’s Shopping Centre
5 Bridge Street
Cardiff
CF10 2EF
(029) 2060 2174
www.yosushi.com 

I was invited to YO! Sushi as a guest and our food and drinks were provided complimentary; however, I was not obliged to write a positive review.

34 Comments

  1. May 17, 2016 / 6:44 pm

    I genuinly don’t know if I like sushi but my friend always says to try Yo Sushi because that’s the best place for sushi x

  2. May 17, 2016 / 6:48 pm

    I am always in Yo Sushi – the food is really good but I’ve not had a chance to try any of the hot new dishes yet – the pork dish looks scrumptious.

  3. May 17, 2016 / 7:20 pm

    I love Yo Sushi. It’s great to pop in and just grab food from the conveyor belt and start eating. I haven’t been in a while evidently though because there are many dishes you’ve mentioned that I’ve not tried! x

  4. May 17, 2016 / 7:45 pm

    YO Sushi is perfect for sushi on the go. It’s definitely one my favourite affordable sushi joints and the best thing is, they are everywhere!

  5. May 17, 2016 / 8:27 pm

    I’ve been here but in Liverpool’s one! So delicious! Me and my partner loved it

  6. May 17, 2016 / 8:41 pm

    I was pretty much drooling throughout the whole of that post. The hot bowl of chazuke looks amazing x

    • May 30, 2016 / 11:33 pm

      I didn’t like the chazuke 🙁 It was definitely the worst part of the meal for us…

  7. May 17, 2016 / 9:43 pm

    The Japanese souffle cake sounds amazing! I love the range of sushi’s available too x

  8. May 17, 2016 / 11:35 pm

    I have not been to Yo Suchi for a year now even though there is one near me in Oxford. I did however go to one in Korea and loved it. I love the system of these restaurants and this YO Suchi looks like a great place

  9. May 18, 2016 / 12:00 am

    What an awesome experience. I’m completely new to sushi and I think I’d like this restaurant.

  10. May 18, 2016 / 6:02 am

    This is amazing! This reminded me of the sushi place we often frequent back in Italy. The good old days. The sushi set-up at Yo Sushi is exactly like it. I am super grateful for this post, brings back so many good memories. Everything looks yummy too.

    • May 30, 2016 / 11:30 pm

      Aww thanks Angela, I’m glad you liked this post and that it brought back happy memories for you 🙂

  11. May 18, 2016 / 9:39 am

    I’m loving the look of the cheesecake and some of the later mains but I’m sorry but I just don’t like sushi! I have tried it s couple of times and it’s not for me

    • May 30, 2016 / 11:29 pm

      It’s not for everyone, as I can really see by reading some of the comments on this post. I am not really mad on it myself, but now and then I like a bit of sushi.

  12. May 18, 2016 / 10:57 am

    theres something about sushi that scares me i have tried a little of the vegetable ones but the raw fish ones i cant try , i just cant lol, this looks lovely though xx

    • May 30, 2016 / 11:29 pm

      I have to be in the mood for sushi. You should give it a go some day though, it may surprise you 🙂

  13. May 18, 2016 / 11:22 am

    I love Yo Sushi! The conveyer belt makes the whole experience a lot cooler though I always end up taking stuff off and then putting it back on because I’m so indecisive!

    • May 30, 2016 / 11:28 pm

      I love the conveyor belt approach to serving the food too, although I would probably be indecisive too. I’d wait for it to go around a few times to check out what was on offer, and by the time I made my mind up someone else would’ve picked up the dishes I wanted, hehe!

  14. May 18, 2016 / 12:46 pm

    Sushi freaks me out so I don’t know if I could ever eat it, my Dad on the other hand loves it!

    • May 30, 2016 / 11:34 pm

      I was a bit squeamish when I first tried sushi. It wasn’t quite as bad as I thought it would be, and in fact I do quite enjoy it now, but I am still funny about some types. For example, I won’t try squid or octopus!

  15. May 18, 2016 / 7:03 pm

    My fav of the whole meal is the cheesecake!!!

    • May 30, 2016 / 11:27 pm

      The cheesecake was pretty good, but the pork dish was my fave I think 🙂 Or the fried chicken.

  16. May 18, 2016 / 9:17 pm

    I’m so pleased you had a good experience! I genuinely can’t eat sushi at all… it makes me ill! So strange because I do love fish and prawns!!

    • May 30, 2016 / 11:26 pm

      Aww, you must have a sensitive digestive system! I enjoy sushi but sometimes the texture can make me feel a little sick!

  17. May 18, 2016 / 9:42 pm

    I’ve always looked at Yo Sushi and wondered what it was like but been too nervous to try it! I bet my husband would love it though and it sounds like good value, I’ll have to tell him they do takeaway boxes!

    • May 30, 2016 / 11:25 pm

      It’s worth a try to see what it’s like, but if you don’t enjoy fish and seafood then it probably isn’t the ideal restaurant to visit. That said, they do offer some chicken and meat dishes – it’s just not the main focus there.

  18. May 19, 2016 / 4:17 pm

    I’m actually not a fan of sushi at ALL, but I must admit the conveyor belt thing looks really fun haha

    • May 30, 2016 / 11:25 pm

      I think sushi is a love or hate it kinda thing, like Marmite! Although saying that, I wouldn’t say I love it or hate it – I am a bit fussy about what kinds of fish and shellfish I will eat, but I don’t avoid it completely.

  19. May 19, 2016 / 4:29 pm

    Yo Sushi looks amazing! I’ve never been but I keep meaning to

    • May 30, 2016 / 11:24 pm

      I was glad I went. I wouldn’t rush back there, but the food was enjoyable. I think if I had picked my own meals from the menu, I would’ve enjoyed it more

  20. May 19, 2016 / 9:28 pm

    I’ve seen a few of these Yo! Sushi places around but always avoid them because I don’t like much fish but forget that I’m sure there’s something else I’d like, that shrimp on rice looks nice, and the fresh salmon, cream cheese and cucumber one! 😀

    • May 30, 2016 / 11:22 pm

      I am a bit fussy with fish and seafood too, but I usually manage to find something I like at sushi restaurants, as most of them serve chicken and other meats too.

  21. May 19, 2016 / 10:24 pm

    I think Yo Sushi is great as you get to try a variety of dishes. I’ve not tried their desserts yet though.

    • May 30, 2016 / 11:22 pm

      It was a good experience, although it’s not my favourite restaurant for sushi in Cardiff.

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