We had booked to go to the National Theatre on Southbank and wanted to grab a quick bite beforehand. We had never been to Yo! Sushi before but as we both are sushi fans and wanted something quick, it seemed the perfect choice but oh boy were we wrong!
We had heard that this national chain can be overpriced but a lot of people do say it’s good. Maybe we got a wrong store or a wrong day, who knows but it was plain terrible.
There were a few people in front of us and we were told there would be a 5 to 10 minutes wait, which was not a problem. We sat in the reception and were handed a special promotion offer that discounted the more expensive dishes to the cheaper dish price. So good so far. Basically the plates on the conveyor belt that swirl around the room have different colours. The different colours represent different prices so the most expensive dish may be on a brown plate whereas the green plate has the cheaper one (this is not accurate colour coding but you get the point.)
We were finally asked to take a seat, after having waited a good ten to fifteen minutes, in an area around the belt and pulled up a stool. The stools have no backs and so are fine for this fast food experience but would not want to while away time on them. The queues at the door were getting longer and there was a wait of up to forty minutes when we managed to get a seat – we were lucky to get in at the right moment.
We sat down and were surprised at the amount of empty spaces that were free for the people queueing outside to use, the trouble was the dirty plates had not been cleared away and so there was a waste of efficiency. To be honest the receptionist at the front was the only one doing her job properly, the manager was running around like a headless chicken and thus doing less good than staying in one place. There also seemed to be only one waitress for the entire room (I am sure there were more but I cannot recall). I can only assume that a few people had called in sick.
We waited an age for the waitress to come and explain to us how it worked; you pick as many dishes off the conveyor and additionally, you can also order hot food by the waitress. You then pay per coloured dish at the end. We ordered sake and a coke. As we were in a rush I thought I would get a small bottle of sake but the waitress did not give me the option, not caring enough to let me choose between a small or a large sake. We waited for our drinks but as they took so long we decided to tuck in; unfortunately the preserves – the wasabi and ginger – were with another couple and were smeared on the table. The ginger jar did not have much left in it and the wasabi spoon was dirty. We had to ask another table to use theirs – not great. We then found that there were no little dishes to put our soy and pickles in so had to traipse across to the other side of the room as the couple before us had the same experience and advised us where to go. We did try to ask the waitress but she was nowhere to be seen. We managed to catch her for the drinks as she had still not got these and she did bring them out. As I was gulping my way through the huge bottle of sake we noticed that the tables were still not clean and the queue outside was even longer.
From my experience I have no idea why people would queue for longer than a few minutes here. Maybe they have never had good service or sushi before or maybe we just had an off day which is probably more likely but in my opinion you can never afford to have a bad day as a business else you will get bad press. Needless to say I am writing this!
In the middle of the restaurant are sushi chefs making fresh sushi, which is a nice touch for this chain, however the decor is stark and a little clinical but hey it’s all about the food right? Hmmm well read on…
So off the conveyor we had the tuna rolls, California rolls, duck rolls, cucumber rolls, avocado and salmon and the cold chicken teriyaki. Now I do like my sushi and have had good and bad sushi but this was bringing a whole new meaning to the word terrible. The rolls were dry and when dunked into the soy and wasabi dip, literally fell apart. The chicken was tender and in a sweet sauce and the duck filling in the sushi was also sweet and flavoursome but was masked by the horrid rice sushi texture. Yuk.
We asked for the bill as we were fairly late for said theatre as the service massively held us up. We had to literally flag down the flustered waitress but she came back quickly with the bill. The manager at this point was still running up and down giving instructions to the one frazzled waitress. To summarise; if you like bad service, queues, dirty surfaces and dried out, crumbling sushi this place is a must. If not hit Ten Ten Tai (reviewed here) which is 15 minutes walk, cheaper and authentic.
As a result Sex drugs and Bacon Rolls gives Yo! Sushi – Southbank Centre Festival Hall:
Food Atmosphere Service