There’s something so satisfying about watching your kids eat, don’t you think?
I mean when they really tuck in and all you can hear is munching sounds, punctuated by the occasional ‘Mmmmmmm!’. Which pretty much described our visit to YO SUSHI! (currently rebranding as Yo! – I’ll tell you why later) this week.
We’d been invited to our local restaurant to celebrate the fact kids can eat free from the Mini Ninja’s Meal Deal menu until the end of summer.
Big Sis and I had actually eaten here a few weeks earlier and were itching to go back, but I wasn’t sure how well Lil Sis would cope with such a drastic change to her usual culinary routine. Lil Sis is our resident picky eater – you know, the kind that samples new food by barely touching it with her tongue before announcing: ‘I DON’T LIKE IT!’
But Big Sis and I were really excited, so I figured she could make do with some rice and I’d get her something else to eat when we got home. We arrived at the restaurant towards the end of the lunchtime rush: diners were seated around the iconic open kitchen while the chefs busied themselves over clanking plates and steaming pans.
We were seated at a booth, and handed our menus. ‘The cold dishes are set down on the conveyor belt so just grab them as they go past, while the hot dishes will be made to order and handed straight to you,’ our server explained. ‘If there’s anything you can’t see, just push this button on your table and we’ll come right over and place the order for you.’
The girls both ordered from the Mini Ninja Meal Deal, which offers two courses and a fruit juice or unlimited water. Big Sis chose line-caught tuna maki (small rice rolls, wrapped in seaweed) and tender chicken katsu bao bun, while Lil Sis opted for the crunchy cucumber maki and tangy veggie yakisoba noodles.
If you order before 2 September you can get one free kid’s meal for every £10 you spend, so even if this hadn’t been a review visit the girls’ meal would both have been complimentary. Bargain, huh?!
On my last visit here I’d stuck with traditional sushi dishes I already knew – California and soft shell crab rolls (amazing!), sashimi and edamame beans, while Big Sis fell hard for the spicy chicken rolls. But this time I wanted to be more adventurous and I’m so glad I did.
You may have already noticed that the restaurant chain has been rebranding itself simply as ‘Yo!’. This is because they’re trying to get the message out that they’re not just about sushi – in fact, they have a wide range of hot, delicious dishes, including a selection of tasty Japanese food for children. Luckily, I’d checked out their menu online beforehand, so I’d managed to narrow my choices down a little (otherwise we would have been there a LONG time while I decided).
I choose spicy pepper squid, chicken chahan (sushi rice stir-fried with chicken, vegetables and shichimi chilli powder), cod nanbanzuke (crispy-fried cod bites in a sweet and sour sauce) and furikake fries (fries coated in sriracha mayo). No more than 15 minutes later the dishes were on our table, steaming hot and smelling divine.
One word: WOW.
Seriously, two days later I’m still dreaming about how delicious these dishes were. The squid was crispy on the outside and soft on the inside, and seasoned with just right mix of saltiness and umami. The chahan was packed full of flavour, and the sushi rice meant it was softer and fluffier than fried rice dishes I’d tried in the past. And the cod… star of the day! Sweet and tangy with a slightly crunchy, almost caramelised, outer layer.
It’s all freshly made in the open kitchen, and much more nutritious and low calorie than other child-friendly options (to give you an example, the cod nanbanzuke dish has 175 calories, while a Big Mac has 508).
I’m literally counting the moments until I can go back and order this again. In fact, I already have a list of dishes I want to try next time, including popcorn shrimp (tempura prawns drizzled with a sweet shiro miso & chilli sauce), chicken karaage (crunchy-fried chicken marinated in soy and sake served with mayo) and beef teriyaki (crispy slices of beef in a sticky garlic & soy glaze with a fresh chilli).
Big Sis was in heaven trying the different dishes and even – to my great surprise – Lil Sis got in on the action, polishing off her cucumber maki, most of my spicy pepper squid AND demolishing a pile of sticky sushi rice cubes that our server had specially brought her. Trust me when I tell you this is almost a miracle.
We finished our meal with custard doriyaki plucked from the sushi train and dipped in the most amazing raspberry sauce; the perfect finale to our guilt-free lunch.
Thanks again to Yo! for inviting us to sample their ‘Kids Go Free’ menu – get to your nearest restaurant before the promotion ends on 2 September to enjoy it for yourself.
• looking for low-cost ways to keep your kids entertained this summer? Read about our Delightful Den-making Day!