Individual portion prices at Yo! Sushi climb from $2.50 to $6 per serving, depending on the base material (vegetarian to seafood, respectively).
The most artful arrangement to pass our lips had to have been the takoyaki: The trio of bell-shaped bites bind together doughy meal, chewy octopus, tangy katsu sauce, creamy mayonnaise and ravishing red ginger.
We were also impressed with a generously portioned shrimp dish. The enticing dish featured two panko-crusted shrimp logs, garnished with tangy preserved onions and balanced atop a mountain of white rice that was in turn ringed by fragrant green curry. The sauce was rich but mild, the shrimp sticks crunchy and pleasantly filling.
Meanwhile, a bowl of garlic-sesame ramen was abundant but dull. So neighboring Toki Underground has nothing to fear.
Quick and Easy
Yo! Sushi already has 75 locations, most in the U.K., and serves 3.5 million customers a year. But Union Station won’t be their only foray into the former colonies.
A Chinatown location is in the works — perhaps opening around Thanksgiving — and further franchising and expansion in the metro area is likely.
Werner Coetzee, franchise operations manager for the company, was sitting at the sushi bar last week, supervising the final touches on the restaurant. Late into the lunch hour, the restaurant was still packed.
“We work very well in transit locations,” he said, gesturing to the bustle of Union Station.
For a quick meal, the process is, indeed, extremely easy. A hostess immediately seats customers at the bar, where they can grab a roll or a bowl of edamame and start chowing down instantly. The waitstaff is there to bring drinks, including booze. Their iced green tea was refreshing and had a light, pleasant flavor but no undue sugar.
To pay the check, a server counts your plates by color (too many of those grey ones will set you back) and uses a holstered digital device to swipe your card and instantly hand you your slip.
A full take-out menu is also in the works, which should allow a five-minute foray to Union Station to end with a bag of fresh sushi.
But if you have a bit longer, sit down and enjoy the scene. From the oh-so-bright orange plastic on the ceilings to the pop art mural on the wall to the two big-screen TVs running montages of Japanese scenes that flash by almost too quickly to absorb, Yo! Sushi is probably unlike any restaurant you’ve frequented.
“It’s quick, it’s easy, but it’s also an experience,” Coetzee said.
Terri Henderson, 6, center, whose mother is El Salvador, attends a rally with members of Congress at Union Station's Columbus Circle to announce the Restore Opportunity, Strengthen, and Improve the Economy (ROSIE) Act on July 29, 2014. The legislation provides incentives for government contractors to pay a living wage and other benefits that would help low-income workers.