Friday, July 23, 2010

Review: Yen Sushi, Bath

I suppose that really this review is a little bit of a guide to “what to eat at a sushi bar if you don’t eat fish”. I do like vegetarian sushi but as you guys know, the only fish/seafood that I have like are mussels, or fish and chips. It’s not as if I didn’t desperately try to like it! I worked in a fish and seafood restaurant for three months to try and appreciate it, but nope, all gross. Especially whitebait, dear god how can anyone eat it? Blegh! Each to their own I suppose. Anyway, so I went to Yen Sushi, for a Leaving/Staff party. One of my friends that works with me (At River Cottage in Komedia, Bath) is moving to Japan, forever as far as I know, to teach Japanese children English, so that was a fairly damn good excuse for a bit of a work booze-up! I started off by ordering a nice cold asahi, which of course works really well with all the Japanese flavours. My friend Lottie started ordering little bottles of Sake as well, which is Japanese rice wine, although it’s much stronger than average wine. It’s traditionally served warm, and served in shot glasses, and slowly drank. I have tried it before when I used to work at Wagamamas, and I thought it was awful- but this Sake was REALLY nice. To be honest I expect the Sake they used at Wagamamas wasn’t very good quality.

Theres something that seems so nice and authentic about the restaurant, much more traditionally Japanese and cheaper than its more well known rival, Yo Sushi. Their main sushi chef seems to always be there, I do wonder some times whether he ever has a day off, he’s really nice and seems to love his work, which is nice to see. Anyway, so I grabbed the first scrummy looking thing going round on the “sushi-go-round”, which was this little plate of warm roasted aubergine in a sweet Miso dressing and toasted sesame seeds. They just call it Aubergine salad on the menu, but it’s so tasty and melted in the mouth- which is a hard texture to achieve with aubergine, as often it can go slimy, or can be too hard and bitter.

Very soon after I thought I’d be brave and order something from the hot menu (If you don’t know how it works in these restaurants, certain items on the menu just keep getting made fresh and put onto the sushi-go-round, and other things (usually the hot or ramen dishes) you order from the waiters/waitresses). I ordered the vegetable gyozas (dumplings), which came nice and hot and crispy which came with a nice tangy vinegar dipping sauce. They were quite nice, though I slightly prefer gyozas when they are steamed rather than fried. I think that may just be because Wagamamas has tainted me in that way, I must’ve had hundreds of their vegetable gyozas in the nine months I worked there. Cause at the end of the day if there were any chicken or vegetable gyozas left in the steamer, they would be staff food. Yum. But still, Yen Sushi’s vegetable gyozas were fairly good, but the vinegary dipping sauce was really zingy and scrumptious.

So, next thing I grabbed was this dish of two deep fried tofu steaks, with some spicy slightly sweet chilli sauce. I love tofu. I think that anyone that says that tofu is flavourless has never had a decent Japanese meal before. To be fair, most the time tofu is much nicer deep fried (as are a lot of foods! Hah!) but this dish was rather delicious . Not too spicy but just enough kick, and the chilli sauce didn’t taste like that over garlicky sickly sweet chilli sauces you get in bottles, it tasted fresh and home made. The tofu slices had a nice little coating, like a light batter I think, and it was nice and crispy.

If I could fill you in on the fishy delights of this sushi bar, all the guys at the party were raving about the Teriyaki Prawns and the Prawn Tempura Hand rolls. The prawns looked fresh with a sticky sweet looking glaze, and the tempura hand roll looks very impressive, a large tempura prawn wrapped in Nori (toasted seaweed) with rice and julienned vegetables.

To have with the sushi on the tables are the usual suspects (in terms of sushi accompaniments) pickled ginger, hot wasabi and Kikkoman soy sauce. So eventually, the meal ended in a bit of a rush, so I grabbed my last plate of food. It was called “Inari”, they are common in the ready made sushi you get from places like Marks and Spencers and Prêt a Manger. It is sushi rice, wrapped in a thin layer of sweet tofu. They are delicious, I completely recommend them. Some of us in the group were rushing off so we could get to a local cocktail bar whilst they still had their 2 for 1 cocktails deal on, so I settled the bill.

I was a bit worried about how much the bill would come to, because last time I was at Yo sushi it was quite expensive, and I left thinking that I’d been ripped off a bit because they overcharged for drinks and for quite a few of their dishes. I thought it was really reasonably priced actually! I’d had 4 plates of food and 2 asahi (and some sake which actually our manager paid for, but the meal would still have been lush without it) and it came to £13.50 (I tipped them £1.50 so it came to £15)! I thought that was very reasonable actually. So much so that I think I’m going to make this place a little bit of a lunchtime favourite. Cheap, tasty, and somewhat healthy (things may be fried, but come on! It's Japanese food, it’s supposed to be very good for you).

I won’t tell you what happened after the restaurant, I’ll just say that much more alcohol was involved, it ended up rather late in a club, and I actually danced! That’s when anyone who knows me knows that i'm drunk, cause I just DON’T dance. Ugh. Embarrassing. Anyway, I would give the food a 9/10, and service-wise….erm…’s hard to judge it on service, as generally you grab the food yourself, but the waiters and waitresses were friendly enough, and quick enough bringing the drinks/hot food once you’d ordered them. However sometimes it was a little difficult to grab their attention when you wanted something, so often you would just have to get up and go to the till area to order things, which was slightly irritating. So, I would give the service 8/10, making the overall score 8.5/10.

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