So had my sushi spent four hours on the conveyor belt?

Sushi is good for you, and eating it makes you hip and healthy: the subliminal message behind the rash of new Japanese food joints all over Britain is hard to miss – and it goes a long way to explaining how, in the space of just a few years, cutely presented raw fish has become one of the country's favourite fast-food snacks.

Nowhere is this seductive logic more on display than in any branch of Yo! Sushi, the restaurant chain which was set up just over a decade ago with just £150,000 by a former Rod Stewart roadie, Simon Woodroffe, and has since become a ubiquitous feature of London's high streets and shopping centres.

The chain's hi-tech, almost clinical image, with its constantly rolling conveyor belt and flashing red buttons used to beckon the waitress, is a large part of its appeal. Chefs dressed in an obligatory array of health-and-safety equipment – hair nets, plastic gloves and disposable white aprons – look more like lab technicians than gastronomes.

Yesterday, I took a personal snapshot of the chain in a visit to city centre branch in London. The conveyor belt was turning and customers sat around as the multicoloured dishes passed before their eyes. The staff, well-clad as ever, were hard at work on stainless steel worktops, and even the traditional bamboo sushi rollers were covered in plastic. Like every Yo! joint it was all sharp edges and bright lights: cool, chic and sanitised.

Although my slot on the conveyor belt initially looked clean it didn't take long to start finding faults. The floor below, painted in easy-to-clean industrial grey paint, was stained with soy sauce and had bits of what could only be described as fluff. Britons' failure to get to grips with the art of chopsticks seemed to be challenging the cleaning regime.

Also rather disturbing were the still and fizzy water taps. Each place contains two taps for water and mine weren't spotless.

The question of the wasabi pot is also worth considering. Now, it may be that no bacteria could possibly withstand living in a pot of the fiery bright green Japanese condiment that gives a welcome pep to an otherwise mild cuisine but yesterday the pots looked distinctly unappealing. Unlike more expensive restaurants, which often dollop a scoop of fresh wasabi on to each dish, Yo! uses plastic pots accessible to all the customers and then refills them when they get empty. Mine had clearly either been left open or not changed in a while as there was a ring of drying wasabi around the outside and a few specs of something which was certainly not green inside.

The other problem with Yo! Sushi is its kitschiest component – its hi-tech conveyor belt. Where some sushi restaurants have fallen down with health inspectors is that the dishes can spend a few hours trundling around before they are replaced. That makes getting a fresh-tasting dish something of a lottery: while the California crab roll felt like it had just come out of the fridge, my shrimp sushi was dry and tepid.

Yo! Sushi was the only sushi chain in our survey. The company says that it has instituted a push on food hygiene, training its 100 employees above the statutory level. It is challenging health inspectors over the handling of sushi rice – its scientists say it can be safely kept for four hours rather than the usual two for hot food. The chain is the first to introduce the Food Standards Agency's traffic light labelling system for nutrition. Last year, Yo! Sushi reported a 42 per cent rise in post-tax profit to £4.3m.

News
peopleJonathan Ross has got a left-field suggestion to replace Clarkson
News
Johnny Depp is perhaps best known for his role as Jack Sparrow in Pirates of the Caribbean
peopleBut how did he break it?
News
Andy Davidhazy at the beginning (left) and end (right) of his hike
video
Arts and Entertainment
The teaser trailer has provoked more questions than answers
filmBut what is Bond's 'secret' that Moneypenny is talking about?
Life and Style
ebookNow available in paperback
ebooks
ebookPart of The Independent’s new eBook series The Great Composers
Sport
footballDoes Hodgson's England team have an identity yet?
Sport
Lewis Hamilton secured his second straight pole of the season
f1Vettel beats Rosberg into third after thunderstorm delays qualifying
News
news
Travel
travel Dreamland Margate, Britain’s oldest amusement park, is set to reopen
News
Founders James Brown and Tim Southwell with a mock-up of the first ever ‘Loaded’ magazine in 1994
media
News
Threlfall says: 'I am a guardian of the reality keys. I think I drive directors nuts'
people
Voices
voices The group has just unveiled a billion dollar plan to help nurse the British countryside back to health
News
The Westgate, a gay pub in the centre of Gloucester which played host to drag queens, has closed
news
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

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

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs Food & Drink

    SFL Group: Video Project Manager

    £24,000 pa, plus benefits: SFL Group: Looking for a hard-working and self-moti...

    Recruitment Genius: Hotel Reservations Assistant - French Speaking

    £16000 - £17000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This rapidly expanding travel c...

    Recruitment Genius: Duty Manager - World-Famous London Museum

    £24000 - £28000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Do you have a strong record of ...

    Recruitment Genius: Personal Assistant

    £24000 - £28000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: You will have demonstrable unde...

    Day In a Page

    The saffron censorship that governs India: Why national pride and religious sentiment trump freedom of expression

    The saffron censorship that governs India

    Zareer Masani reveals why national pride and religious sentiment trump freedom of expression
    Prince Charles' 'black spider' letters to be published 'within weeks'

    Prince Charles' 'black spider' letters to be published 'within weeks'

    Supreme Court rules Dominic Grieve's ministerial veto was invalid
    Distressed Zayn Malik fans are cutting themselves - how did fandom get so dark?

    How did fandom get so dark?

    Grief over Zayn Malik's exit from One Direction seemed amusing until stories of mass 'cutting' emerged. Experts tell Gillian Orr the distress is real, and the girls need support
    The galaxy collisions that shed light on unseen parallel Universe

    The cosmic collisions that have shed light on unseen parallel Universe

    Dark matter study gives scientists insight into mystery of space
    The Swedes are adding a gender-neutral pronoun to their dictionary

    Swedes introduce gender-neutral pronoun

    Why, asks Simon Usborne, must English still struggle awkwardly with the likes of 's/he' and 'they'?
    Disney's mega money-making formula: 'Human' remakes of cartoon classics are part of a lucrative, long-term creative plan

    Disney's mega money-making formula

    'Human' remakes of cartoon classics are part of a lucrative, long-term creative plan
    Lobster has gone mainstream with supermarket bargains for £10 or less - but is it any good?

    Lobster has gone mainstream

    Anthea Gerrie, raised on meaty specimens from the waters around Maine, reveals how to cook up an affordable feast
    Easter 2015: 14 best decorations

    14 best Easter decorations

    Get into the Easter spirit with our pick of accessories, ornaments and tableware
    Paul Scholes column: Gareth Bale would be a perfect fit at Manchester United and could turn them into serious title contenders next season

    Paul Scholes column

    Gareth Bale would be a perfect fit at Manchester United and could turn them into serious title contenders next season
    Inside the Kansas greenhouses where Monsanto is 'playing God' with the future of the planet

    The future of GM

    The greenhouses where Monsanto 'plays God' with the future of the planet
    Britain's mild winters could be numbered: why global warming is leaving UK chillier

    Britain's mild winters could be numbered

    Gulf Stream is slowing down faster than ever, scientists say
    Government gives £250,000 to Independent appeal

    Government gives £250,000 to Independent appeal

    Donation brings total raised by Homeless Veterans campaign to at least £1.25m
    Oh dear, the most borrowed book at Bank of England library doesn't inspire confidence

    The most borrowed book at Bank of England library? Oh dear

    The book's fifth edition is used for Edexcel exams
    Cowslips vs honeysuckle: The hunt for the UK’s favourite wildflower

    Cowslips vs honeysuckle

    It's the hunt for UK’s favourite wildflower
    Child abuse scandal: Did a botched blackmail attempt by South African intelligence help Cyril Smith escape justice?

    Did a botched blackmail attempt help Cyril Smith escape justice?

    A fresh twist reveals the Liberal MP was targeted by the notorious South African intelligence agency Boss