Catching a train isn’t like catching a bus. There isn’t going to be another one along in a minute. Stations are filled with folks who have a wait before departure or a wait for an arrival; and there are always local office workers seeking refreshment.
Waterloo station in London has both trains and Underground, and has been around for more than one hundred and fifty years. A station here first opened in 1848. The present buildings were finished in 1922 and part of the station is a Grade II listed building. There are around 90 million passengers every year, making Waterloo Britain’s busiest railway station and one of the busiest passenger terminals in Europe.
Passengers are often looking for food and a comfortable place to rest. At first glance there seems to be just the usual suspects and that isn’t inspiring. Nothing wrong with a burger from time to time; I am not an evangelist although I would suggest a burger is best kept to a frequency that renders it a novelty rather than a regular item on your menu. But there are other options at Waterloo. YO! Sushi is upstairs where Network Rail has constructed a balcony.
The restaurant is at one end of the wide first-floor concourse which offers “those in the know” that elusive oasis of burger-free tranquillity. One is seated in a booth with water taps, chopsticks, wasabi, ginger, soy sauce and a menu. This isn’t a new concept, as the first YO! Sushi opened back in 1997.
It’s an interactive food experience, where one picks dishes from a moving conveyor belt. The printed menu gives a clue to the goods gracing those coloured-rimmed plates. In fact the colours are the key to the cost, which will range from £1.80 (green rim) to £5 (grey rim), with several other options in between. Choose the plates you like and the pile of crockery will indicate your bill at the end of the meal. Hot miso soup and green tea can be ordered from your waiter and come with free refills, and you will get your tea in a real mug rather than an iffy paper cup.
The carousel moves by at a pace to allow you to see what’s on offer and assess the price. Yes, YO! Sushi is a chain but I think it’s too easy to damn food from such restaurants. It’s popular for very good reason. The food is fresh, at a reasonable price and there is plenty of choice. Granted, you might not get an artfully draped bough of cherry blossom garnishing every dish, but it’s good fare and fun.
We selected, over a leisurely period of a couple of hours, Five Slices of premium Scottish Salmon – a considerable portion; California Roll Crabstick, Avocado, Mayonnaise and Sesame Seeds – moist and mild-flavoured but delicious dressed with wasabi; Spicy Chicken Salad with Ginger and Garlic dressing – vibrant and worth a try; Chicken Katsu, Crispy Fried Chicken in Panko Bread Crumbs, with a fruity sauce – my guest’s favourite dish; Salmon Maki – ubiquitous on Japanese menus but good here; Korroke, Crispy Japanese Breaded Chicken, Prawn and Pumpkin Croquettes with a fruity sauce – comforting texture.
Japan isn’t famed for its desserts but a must-try here is the very traditional Mochi. These are rice cakes cut in segments to reveal a sweet filling. They are often made with cooked glutinous rice but can also be made from a flour of sweet rice. Mochi is usually stuffed with sweet filling such as sweetened red bean paste. It’s all about this very particular texture and they truly are addictive.
YO! Sushi at Waterloo Station is well situated for a calming meal with panoramic views of this iconic terminus and its dozens of rails, a place to meet and greet over fresh Japanese food at reasonable prices. I do feel that they could consider opening for breakfast to see how that works. I look forward to visiting other YO! Sushi to try their non-moving dishes. I am expecting the same high standard.
YO! Sushi – Waterloo Station
London SE1 7LY
Phone: 020 3394 2617
Mon – Sun: 11am to 10pm
Restaurant review by Chrissie Walker © 2018