Reviewed by Sean Dodson
Cabot Circus, the Bristol branch of YO! Sushi, is a shopping mall for people who don’t like shopping malls. The trouble with most malls is that they are too brightly lit, too air conditioned and too far out-of-town to feel like they are part of a real city. Cabot Circus is different. It’s smack in the centre of town, it uses natural light and is made of sustainable materials, such as locally-sourced timber. Best of all you can walk along its pedestrian walkways and feel the breeze, even though it has a roof. The Circus uses natural ventilation, so you feel like you are outside but don’t get wet when it rains.
The Circus is home to over 100 shops and several eateries. YO! Sushi is situated on a terrace overlooking the main throng. Like most branches it offers a Japanese ‘kaiten’ conveyor belt method of delivering oriental morsels to your place setting. The belt snakes through the restaurant like some futuristic machine. The chefs toil away in the middle and the diners sit around the edge. You pick dishes you like as they wheel past and collect colour-coded plates that ultimately calculate your bill.
The thing about YO! Sushi is that it’s far too tempting. Self-control does not so much go out of the window as perform aerial somersaults if you aren’t careful. Thankfully we visited on a Sunday and took advantage Super! Sumo! Sunday! An all-you-can-eat offer. For £19.95 per head you eat your fill from the conveyor belt, plus enjoy unlimited miso soup, green tea and water. The latter you just help yourself from funky taps on the table (both still and sparkling). There is a proviso or two. Everyone in your party must participate in the deal and you have an hour to sate your appetite.
So we sat back at a generous booth adjacent to the belt and waited for our fancies to be tickled. We started with plates of sashimi, delicate slices of bonito tuna and salmon that almost melt away as you chew them. Next we picked a delicious sesame marinated ‘kaiso’ seaweed salad with edamame and carrot (we liked it so much we enjoyed three) before moving on to some crispy vegetable gyoza and some filling chilli chicken sushi rolls. In between we munched on edamame, its pods as green as a lawn, and drank a refreshing glass or three of Sapporo beer.
It’s most comfortable to be able to sit there and graze in this fashion, you don’t have to worry about clocking up a huge bill or ordering something you are unsure about. And you can indulge. We managed, in just 45 minutes, to consume 15 dishes, which would normally have cost £55. So it’s a good deal to boot. Dessert is extra, but very worth it. The chocolate ganache cake was about as Japanese as a bowler hat, but the black sesame ice cream was an authentic treat. Imagine a frozen dish of halva and you are halfway there.
Like the rest of the Circus, YO! Sushi is modern without being alienating. Bristol is a great city with an independent spirit that the locals treasure. Thankfully the Circus and the branch of Yo! Sushi manage somehow to upgrade the old town without dampening any of its atmosphere. No mean feat.
For more information or to find a YO! Sushi near you visit www.yosushi.com.