Confessions of a sushi virgin who fell in love with raw fish

Top marks for how knowledgeable the staff were
Top marks for how knowledgeable the staff were

Until fairly recently, I was a sushi virgin. Which is perhaps surprising for a 27-year-old food obsessive.

YO! Sushi

It would have been enjoyable to eat the sushi while we were making it

It would have been enjoyable to eat the sushi while we were making it

@YOSushi

6 Jubilee Street, Brighton, BN1 1GE

01273 258711

www.yosushi.com

Until fairly recently, I was a sushi virgin. Which is perhaps surprising for a 27-year-old food obsessive.

Yet I couldn’t be convinced that raw fish would be something I’d enjoy. It wasn’t until a trip to Vancouver earlier this year that I took the plunge into trying the combination of sticky rice, seaweed and fish. And I completely fell in love with it. So, when asked if I would like to learn more about Japanese food at YO! Sushi, I jumped at the chance.

YO! Sushi launched in 1997, modelling itself on the Japanese "kaiten bars" and urban Tokyo landscape. Its popularity and the rise of sushi as a trendy cuisine meant the business model spread across the United Kingdom and now operates with over 70 stores.

Recently, YO! Sushi in Brighton introduced a sushi school. For £30 a head, you have the opportunity to take a deep-dive into the intricate world of Japanese food and learn about what makes sushi such a special dish. Arriving on time for our 6pm class, we sat at the far side of the restaurant, along with a large group celebrating a birthday.

Presented with a rolling mat and a large bowl of rice to share, we got started. First, we made a very simple cucumber hosomaki. This type of sushi is often used as a palate-cleanser between dishes and proved to be a really easy roll to make. The following futomaki roll was a little more challenging as we filled our nori with teriyaki duck and spring onion. Yet, the end result was one of the most enjoyable sushi rolls from the session.

The "California Roll" was an interesting combination of crab stick, mayo, and avocado. For this roll, we got to practise the uramaki technique, which essentially means rice outside of the roll - or, as YO! Sushi, call it the "ISO - inside out". It would have been great to see YO! Sushi use authentic crab meat for this combination as the crab stick tasted a little false.

The nigri and gurkan were easy enough to pick up. Small rounds of rice with the choice of salmon or seared beef, with the gurkan held together by a strand of nori. The hand-roll (temaki) with salmon and avocado was trickier to make, yet proved satisfying once completed. By this point, our confidence had soared and we mastered the masago with ease.

The YO! Sushi school, however, wasn’t without its drawbacks. The teacher spoke very softly and had little control over the group. Paired with the overhead music, we couldn’t really grasp what was going on.

Also, it would have been enjoyable to eat the sushi while we were making it. By 8pm, when the class was finished, my hunger pains were almost unbearable. A smaller group size would have also worked far better.

Top marks for how knowledgeable the staff were and how easily YO! Sushi catered for specific dietary requirements. Fussy eater, gluten-free or vegan? The YO! Sushi school can accommodate for you.

Be warned: you’ll be eating sushi for days afterwards as the quantity you take home is colossal, making this a great value-for-money activity. Overall, it was an enjoyable introduction to the world of sushi and something that can be enjoyed by couples, groups, or friends.