15th September 2008: It was a Monday evening in Brighton, it was getting late for dinner, and we fancied sushi. Moshi Moshi would have been our usual destination, but being closed on Mondays we remembered YO! Sushi in Jubilee Street and decided to give it a try. Perhaps a little glimpse at the competition might prove eye-opening.
At Moshi Moshi we’re almost always impressed. The food is lovely and fresh, made with great skill using ingredients whose quality and freshness is clear to see. Their commitment to sustainable fishing and other environmental concerns scores highly too. As a Moshi Moshi member (free to join) you can also get some very good exclusive members’ offers, including single-price-plate days and a free birthday meal. Everything’s so good, Moshi Moshi has become one of my food heroes, and that’s not an easy place to get to because I’m not an easy man to please. I demand fresh, tasty food prepared with passion from high quality ingredients. Nobody should expect less.
Monday was Blue Plate night at YO! Sushi and that means everything on the conveyor belt is £2.20. Special orders from the menu are still charged at full price. It wasn’t especially busy in the restaurant, which was at around half capacity. My girlfriend ordered some chicken katsu with steamed rice, whilst I tucked into the offerings passing by in front of us. First off, some cooked marinated squid on rocket, which was tasty enough and reasonably pretty to look at. My girlfriend’s rice arrived lukewarm, without its chicken. A plate of three mixed ngiri was ok, nothing special – not especially skilfully made, and the fish was a little insipid, needing all the help it could get from the soy sauce, wasabi and preserved ginger. The edamame (soya) beans were also ok, sadly also inferior to Moshi’s; they appeared to lack freshness and were hard to extract from their pods. Various rolls were loosely made; flavours were bland; everything was very much room-temperature and appeared to have been chucked on plates with little care or artistry; and where the hell was my girlfriend’s chicken katsu?
Marta, who appeared to be the duty manager, seemed unconcerned about the absence of the chicken and the loneliness of the rice. “It takes twenty minutes to cook the chicken” she explained, clearly oblivious to the clear and present facts: not only had we seen several portions of chicken katsu dispensed during the previous twenty minutes from our vantage point just near the fryers, we could also see that none of the fryers had any chicken katsu being cooked currently. My girlfriend was losing heart and I was losing my patience, so I asked Marta to just take it off the bill.
As we sat reflecting upon an evening meal ruined, we noticed other things about YO! Sushi too, such as the disgusting state of all the food preparation areas. At Moshi Moshi we’re always impressed with the cleanliness and good hygiene practises, each food prep area being cleaned down properly after every use. We get to watch as highly skilled chefs create beautiful food, and present it with respect and aesthetic prowess. At YO! Sushi there were boards and work surfaces left strewn with the debris of food preparation that had long since been completed, and the paper notelets of hand-written orders from serving staff lying on boards where food is prepared. The kitchen staff seemed regularly confused about who had ordered what, and which orders remained outstanding. The serving staff repeatedly and annoyingly kept hovering about asking if everything was ok and asking if they could get us anything else, which was unnecessary, unaware, and came over as more than a little insecure.
All in all, YO! Sushi in Brighton should be renamed NO! Sushi, and best avoided by anyone who loves food – it’s the sushi equivalent of McDonalds. Food heroes Moshi Moshi are kings of what they do for good reason, and long may they reign.