First, be polite to your trolley

YO! SUSHI; 52-53 Poland Street, London W1 3DF. Tel: 0171 287 0443. Open daily noon to 11pm. Average price, pounds 10 per person. No reservations. Major credit cards accepted

Yo! Sushi is a fantasy of The Restaurant of the Future that could have been designed and directed by Jacques Tati. Under banks of chromium- plated downlighters little colour-coded saucers of lurid sushi, each capped with a little plastic dome, snake round and round the bartop on a conveyor belt of stainless steel discs, cooks chop and slice and feed robot rice- compressors in chromium display pens, the white walls are flooded alternately with lime green and pink light, pop music thuds in the loudspeakers, and the Diners of the Future sit in rows at the counter, some talking into mobile phones, but most of them blankly poking tiny packets of rice and raw fish into their mouths with wooden chopsticks.

There are also pale-wood tables for four, with metal benches, each table having its own chromium-plated tray with a square jar of sliced ginger, a pot of tangy wasabi (made from a type of horseradish), a bottle of soy sauce and a paper napkin dispenser, and at the end of each table there is a water-tap with a stack of glasses.

We had supper there four days after it opened, and it was already packed. Yo! Sushi does not take reservations, so you wait behind a crush barrier at the door, say how many you are, and the Head Waitress of the Future, crop- headed and wearing a plain black shirt and trousers, lifts her arm in an alarming signal based on the Nazi salute and bellows some-thing incomprehensible above the din of the music to an orange-shirted colleague at the other end of the restaurant.

He bellows back what was probably an estimated waiting time, and you are then taken in, already hypnotised by the snaking plates of luminous food and the eerie chromium-plated drinks trolley gliding along apparently of its own volition. At your table, or at the bar, you are given a bright-blue plastic-covered "sushi identifier" with 20 little colour illustrations of what is gliding by under the plastic domes.

This brochure also contains historical notes in very small print: sushi means a sandwich and was invented 2,000 years ago, the sushi conveyor was invented in 1968 by Egawa Kinsho, tuna can swim at speeds of up to 50-miles an hour even when asleep. Japanese and "Icelandics" who eat raw fish "live lives longer than many".

By this time I was beginning to get a bit irritated by the conveyor belt: whether or not Egawa Kinsho was inspired while waiting for his luggage at Tokyo airport, there is the familiar sense of futility as the same little package comes past for the seventeenth time, and even something of the desperation of when Ian Carmichael's bowler hat falls onto the conveyor belt in I'm Alright, Jack to be covered with chocolate and automatically fitted with a cherry.

Conversation was impossible. My Italian guest did his best, impressing us with his wonderfully fluent use of English, which included the words "robotic" and "restaurant of the future", but it was a losing battle against Rod Stewart's "Sailing", some mad harpie sing- ing "My Guy" and more modern works of a rather less elevated nature.

We were brought little bowls of miso soup, poured ourselves glasses of water, ordered warm sake and Sapporo beer, and plucked up enough courage to start taking things off the conveyor belt. Our Italian guest had in the meantime quizzed the waiter in the orange shirt about where the fish came from - the tuna is flown up from South Africa, the salmon from Scotland, the white fish bought every morning from Billingsgate - and what we had was absolutely fine. I found it difficult from the illustration to tell whether I was eating raw salmon, saka, or fatty tuna, toro, but something of that colour came past again and again. Mackerel, saba, we decided was better, as it was cut in thicker slices and came without rice, but that turned out to be as long coming on the conveyor belt as your own suitcase and in the end we asked the waiter to bring us some by hand.

On the board explaining the colour coding - lime green pounds 1, turquoise blue pounds 1.50, purple pounds 1.80, orange pounds 2.50 or pink pounds 3.50 - there were also specials, and we asked the waiter for two sea-urchin sushi - very good - and two salmon-skin rolls, which were warm and a little more comforting than the sushi, that couldn't really be said to make a meal, though I'm sure in the future they'll think of it as a banquet.

At that moment we tried to engage the robotic drinks trolley for more sake. It absolutely refused to stop, but I managed to snatch a half-bottle and two more cups as it went by. This turned out to be stone cold, and as there wasn't much you could say to a robotic trolley, I decided to put it back.

There was then a genuinely Tatiesque episode. One of the waiters, turning a corner too fast and swerving to avoid the robotic trolley coming the other way, dropped a bowl, which smashed on the floor. The waiter immediately vanished, ducking under the moving foodway and into one of the chromium pens. The conveyor belt of bright food snaked on, the music thumped, the diners at the bar poked their faces and listened to their mobile phones unheeding, and the waiter in the orange shirt came over and actually knelt down to pick up the broken pieces in his fingers. For a moment it was real life. Then the waiter in black who had dropped it reappeared through the little chromium hatch, swinging a chromium dustpan and brush, flick, clang and then suddenly everything was back to normal.

It's a great fairground ride, a snack in the Pavilion of the Future. Tipping is forbidden, we ate quite a lot of sushi - the waiter totting up the bill with his thumb from the colours of the empty saucers - and the bill for two with drinks came to pounds 30.05. All the same, it was a relief to slip into an Italian caff just round the corner afterwards for a sticky bun, a cappucino and a proper talk.

Arts and Entertainment
Loaded weapon: drugs have surprise side effects for Scarlett Johansson in Luc Besson’s ‘Lucy’
film
Arts and Entertainment
Novelist Martin Amis at The Times Cheltenham Literature Festival

books
Arts and Entertainment
Alfred Molina, left, and John Lithgow in a scene from 'Love Is Strange'

After giving gay film R-rating despite no sex or violence

film
Arts and Entertainment
Robin Williams will be given a 'meaningful remembrance' at the Emmy Awards

film
Arts and Entertainment

tv
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment
'The Great British Bake Off' showcases food at its most sumptuous
tv
Arts and Entertainment
Cliff Richard performs at the Ziggo Dome in Amsterdam on 17 May 2014

music
Arts and Entertainment

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Educating the East End returns to Channel 4 this autumn

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Benedict Cumberbatch will voice Shere Khan in Andy Serkis' movie take on The Jungle Book

film
Arts and Entertainment
DJ Calvin Harris performs at the iHeartRadio Music Festival

music
Arts and Entertainment
The eyes have it: Kate Bush

music
Arts and Entertainment
From left to right: Mark Crown, DJ Locksmith and Amir Amor of Rudimental performing on stage during day one of the Wireless Festival at Perry Park, Birmingham

music
Arts and Entertainment

books
Arts and Entertainment
Tim Vine has won the funniest joke award at the Edinburgh Festival 2014

Edinburgh
Arts and Entertainment
Peter Capaldi and Chris Addison star in political comedy The Thick of IT

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Judy Murray said she

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Tim Vine has won the funniest joke award at the Edinburgh Festival 2014

edinburgh
Arts and Entertainment
Jeremy Paxman has admitted he is a 'one-nation Tory' and complained that Newsnight is made by idealistic '13-year-olds' who foolishly think they can 'change the world'.

Edinburgh
Arts and Entertainment
Seoul singer G-Dragon could lead the invasion as South Korea has its sights set on Western markets
music
Arts and Entertainment
Gary Lineker at the UK Premiere of 'The Hunger Games: Catching Fire'
tv
Arts and Entertainment
Christian Bale as Batman in a scene from
film
Arts and Entertainment
Johhny Cash in 1969
musicDyess Colony, where singer grew up in Depression-era Arkansas, opens to the public
Arts and Entertainment
Army dreamers: Randy Couture, Sylvester Stallone, Dolph Lundgren and Jason Statham
film
Arts and Entertainment
The Great British Bake Off 2014 contestants
tvReview: It's not going to set the comedy world alight but it's a gentle evening watch
Independent
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
santorini
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating
    and  

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    Air strikes? Talk of God? Obama is following the jihadists’ script

    Air strikes? Talk of God? Obama is following the jihadists’ script

    The President came the nearest he has come yet to rivalling George W Bush’s gormless reaction to 9/11 , says Robert Fisk
    Ebola outbreak: Billy Graham’s son declares righteous war on the virus

    Billy Graham’s son declares righteous war on Ebola

    A Christian charity’s efforts to save missionaries trapped in Africa by the crisis have been justifiably praised. But doubts remain about its evangelical motives
    Jeremy Clarkson 'does not see a problem' with his racist language on Top Gear, says BBC

    Not even Jeremy Clarkson is bigger than the BBC, says TV boss

    Corporation’s head of television confirms ‘Top Gear’ host was warned about racist language
    Nick Clegg the movie: Channel 4 to air Coalition drama showing Lib Dem leader's rise

    Nick Clegg the movie

    Channel 4 to air Coalition drama showing Lib Dem leader's rise
    Philip Larkin: Misogynist, racist, miserable? Or caring, playful man who lived for others?

    Philip Larkin: What will survive of him?

    Larkin's reputation has taken a knocking. But a new book by James Booth argues that the poet was affectionate, witty, entertaining and kind, as hitherto unseen letters, sketches and 'selfies' reveal
    Madame Tussauds has shown off its Beyoncé waxwork in Regent's Park - but why is the tourist attraction still pulling in the crowds?

    Waxing lyrical

    Madame Tussauds has shown off its Beyoncé waxwork in Regent's Park - but why is the tourist attraction still pulling in the crowds?
    Texas forensic astronomer finally pinpoints the exact birth of impressionism

    Revealed (to the minute)

    The precise time when impressionism was born
    From slow-roasted to sugar-cured: how to make the most of the British tomato season

    Make the most of British tomatoes

    The British crop is at its tastiest and most abundant. Sudi Pigott shares her favourite recipes
    10 best men's skincare products

    Face it: 10 best men's skincare products

    Oscar Quine cleanses, tones and moisturises to find skin-savers blokes will be proud to display on the bathroom shelf
    Malky Mackay allegations: Malky Mackay, Iain Moody and another grim day for English football

    Mackay, Moody and another grim day for English football

    The latest shocking claims do nothing to dispel the image that some in the game on these shores exist in a time warp, laments Sam Wallace
    La Liga analysis: Will Barcelona's hopes go out of the window?

    Will Barcelona's hopes go out of the window?

    Pete Jenson starts his preview of the Spanish season, which begins on Saturday, by explaining how Fifa’s transfer ban will affect the Catalans
    Middle East crisis: We know all too much about the cruelty of Isis – but all too little about who they are

    We know all too much about the cruelty of Isis – but all too little about who they are

    Now Obama has seen the next US reporter to be threatened with beheading, will he blink, asks Robert Fisk
    Neanderthals lived alongside humans for centuries, latest study shows

    Final resting place of our Neanderthal neighbours revealed

    Bones dated to 40,000 years ago show species may have died out in Belgium species co-existed
    Scottish independence: The new Scots who hold fate of the UK in their hands

    The new Scots who hold fate of the UK in their hands

    Scotland’s immigrants are as passionate about the future of their adopted nation as anyone else
    Britain's ugliest buildings: Which monstrosities should be nominated for the Dead Prize?

    Blight club: Britain's ugliest buildings

    Following the architect Cameron Sinclair's introduction of the Dead Prize, an award for ugly buildings, John Rentoul reflects on some of the biggest blots on the UK landscape