Here's a look inside Yo! Sushi, a conveyor belt-style sushi chain from the United Kingdom that is slated to make its American debut tomorrow. Yo! Sushi first announced its expansion to America late last year and finally the technicolor buildout is complete at Union Station.
Why Union Station? Well, the international operations manager Werner Coetzee explains, unlike New York, DC isn't over-saturated with Japanese restaurants — and they've also observed other international chains such as Nando's Peri-Peri succeed in DC. But beyond that: "We couldn't think of a better city and a more iconic building to do our first one."
As those who have visited the chain's other locations might recognize, the sushi here makes its way past booths and counter seating on a conveyor belt that cinches in an open theater-style kitchen. Place settings all come equipped with soy sauce, wasabi, ginger, chopsticks, sauce dishes and a self-serve water faucet, while display screens around the restaurant explain how the concept works. There's a lot of Scandinavian light fixtures, Japanese lucky cats hiding in portholes and bright colors — including on a mural that fuses American icons like the Lincoln Memorial and Martin Luther King Jr. with scenes from contemporary Japanese culture.
Beyond sushi, the menu also includes noodle and rice dishes, teriyaki, chicken katsu curry and more, plus unlimited miso soup and tea. According to Coetzee, Yo! Sushi has a one-hour time limit when it comes to how long food can remain on the conveyor belt. A scan of the chips underneath the dishes tells the system how long a particular dish has been on the belt and once it reaches an hour, the belt automatically dumps old dishes. When it comes to drinks, they offer Japanese sake, beer and sodas, plus a selection of wine.
Yo! Sushi opens tomorrow at 11 a.m. in Union Station's West Hall and then they'll turn to a second US location that has been named for Chinatown — and, after that, branch out to the rest of the US.