Sometimes in life it really is who you know rather than what you know.
I was absolutely delighted when Mystical Aromatic Lady (MAL) invited me to be her plus one for the preview night at Yo! Sushi before it and the whole of Trinity Leeds opens to the public on 21st March 2013.
We arrived at the entrance behind Marks and Spencer's gave our names and were led into Trinity Leeds, both of us were extremely excited about what it would be like inside; what shops and restaurants there would be. The lifts and escalators were not in working order so we were led to the back stairs up to the restaurant floor of Trinity Leeds.
Whilst up there we spied a new Carluccios, a new Wagamamas, a new Giraffe... beginning to think it was all just repeats of the same restaurants elsewhere in the city we then walked past the Handmade Burger Company and spotted a sign for TGI Friday's.
We were led to Yo! Sushi and greeted at the door by a lovely hostess and then passed smoothly on to a member of the waiting staff who explained how it all worked as we were both Yo! Sushi virgins.
(Feel free to skip the next part if you have been to Yo! Sushi before...)
You're given a menu which is split in to sections such as Hot Classics, Rice and Noodles, Katsu and Tempura, Sushi, Salads and Desserts. A picture of each dish is displayed next to it's description circled in a particular colour. The colour and pictures make it easier to pick out the dish you want from the conveyor belt in front of you. The different colours also relate to different prices, with green being the cheapest (£1.80) and grey the most expensive (£5.00). If you can't see a dish you like you just press the 'Yo!' button in front of you and it alerts a member of the waiting staff to attend. Most of the hot dishes require you to do this as these are not put on to the conveyor very often to stop them from getting cold and so you get them at their freshest too!
We were sat in front of the kitchen and prep area so we had a good view of all the food being made and the attention to detail being taken. We also got to build a good rap-ore with the guys making the food, honestly the friendliest and funniest guys I've ever met that work back of house (or not so much back of house in this case).
Every 15 minutes you hear them call out for all the kitchen staff to wash their hands too, they are so excited by their job it was great just to sit and watch them work (this may because they are new and haven't yet faced their first Saturday afternoon).
We were given a free glass of Prosecco (thank you very much!) and left to watch the food whizzing by and to get familiar with the menu.
One feature that I particularly loved about the seating areas was the water pumps. No more asking for a jug of tap water you have your very own taps in front of you AND you can get still or sparkling - AMAZING.
Condiments are neatly stacked to the side of each diner and I'm afraid to tell all the choptickphobes out there... there were no knives and forks, but you could use a wooden dessert spoon if you can't handle the sticks.
Okay... let's get down to business and most important part... the FOOD!
First of all I decided to go for the Duck Gyoza and Moromi Miso... but confused and accidentally picked up a Vegetable Gyoza.
These were really good, the dumplings weren't too heavy and the portion size just right. They were soft in the middle and crispy around the edges, a good choice to start with.
MAL decided to start a little heavier with her first dish and chose Chicken Yakisoba. She described this as very filling with a lot of food (considering it would have cost the same as my purple dish which was much smaller) but really tasty.
This is would definitely be something I would have chosen but there was no way we were going to chose the same things all night!
Next up I chose Spicy Chicken ISO - ISO is an inside out sushi of type in that the rice is on the outside and the seaweed is on the inside. The Spicy Chicken ISO consists of tiny bits of Katsu chicken, katsu sauce and shichimi powder (very hot!).
Here it is in it's Jetson like spaceship (note the time stuck to the top - this is when it will be taken off of the conveyor belt as they only stay on for 2 hours)...
Here it is without... I must admit I was a little worried how I was going to tackle this with chopsticks but I had no issues at all. This was a lot spicier than I was expecting and my mouth was left tingling for a good 5 minutes afterwards (a nice tingling for me perhaps not for others?)
Too engrossed in my own food I forgot to take a picture of MAL's next dish... but it was Salmon I think??
For my next dish I decided to chose one of the best sellers from the Hot Classics section - Pumpkin Korroke. Basically just a pumpkin croquette.
These were a little god send, I can see why they are popular. The pumpkin wasn't too strong tasting just like a sweet potato the sauce was perfect with them as it much sweeter and quite fruity.
For MAL next she chose what is simply called 'Beef', which is seared beef with mayonnaise.
Now this she did struggle a little to eat with chopsticks, her and the member of kitchen staff who was amusing us throughout our meal commented on how amazing this dish was, apparently a really tender tasting piece of beef.
Noticing that we had chosen ALL purple dishes we decided to branch out a little and order some hot food from one of the waiting staff.
I decided to go for something that would be a little more substantial... I wasn't quite prepared for how substantial it was going to be when it eventually arrived! I ordered the Chicken Katsu Curry which is topped with Japanese pickle.
The waitress serving us kept apologising for the amount of time it took for this to be made but I'm more than happy to wait for fresh food. Plus time was easily whittling away with good company and the kitchen staff to keep us amused. This was very morish and the pickle was a great addition, I couldn't quite place the flavours but they were intense.
Next up we had a dish to share - Prawn Tempura, which is made with black tiger prawns and fried in a crispy batter with tempura sauce.
I ate a prawn and I liked it!!! I would definitely order this dish myself in the future.
For MALs next dish she had Prawn Korroke which is breaded prawn and potato croquettes with a kimchee mayonnaise.
MAL said these were simply amazing and I think it would definitely be a one to try for me in the future.
We were starting to feel a little (a lot) full by this point and so had to have a little breather and another glass of Prosecco to recover a little before we attempted dessert.
There are 6 desserts to chose from and despite that not being a lot compared to the rest of the menu it was incredibly hard to decide what to have! With them all whooshing by you during your meal they catch your eye and just cry out for you to pick them.
Eventually we did decide (obviously) and MAL went for the Chocolate Ganache Cake which has a meringue centre.
MAL said this was very rich on the bottom but very smooth and light on the top.
For my dessert I tried the Dorayaki (Japanese Pancakes with a custard filling and raspberry sauce).
A very filling dessert but soooo morish I ate them in about 30 seconds despite trying to exercise restraint.
The waiting and kitchen staff were wonderful on this night and I hope their bright spirits stay, they were fun relaxed and willing to have a good time alongside their customers. There was a really good atmosphere in the restaurant (maybe because everything was free?) and I didn't feel crowded despite the place being at full capacity.
There is so much choice on the menu I can't wait to go back and try completely different dishes next time. I also wouldn't mind trying out the Mangajo Pomegranate and Green Tea / Lemon & Green tea drink. Maybe this is the green fanta I once tried in Japan but have never found anywhere else and strive to find out what it is?
Meal prices will vary depending on what you order, the purple dishes are £3 each which I don't think is too bad. They have set menus ranging from £9.50 to £12.50 with a few deals/offers on currently. If you sign up to their mailing list they will send you an update of all their current offers. I will certainly be considering the Sumo Sundays were it is all you can eat for £19.50... not sure whether you will be able to get all dishes on this deal but I certainly hope you can get a few of my favourites!
Great night, great food, great people - I can't wait to go back!
Second floor food court
For those of you who are interested here are a few inside pictures of Trinity Leeds....