Young and Hungry

YO!’s Conveyor-Belt Sushi: How It Works

Color-coded by price, small bowls circulate on a conveyor belt around the kitchen’s circumference. Starting next Wednesday, chefs of London-based YO! Sushi will settle into this round space to create salads, sushi, noodles, rice dishes, and more at Union Station, the restaurant’s first location in the United States.

How it works: Customers sit along the bar and take a bowl off the conveyor belt when it looks appetizing. Each place setting features classic Japanese restaurant condiments—wasabi, ginger, soy sauce, and  a dumpling dipping sauce—as well as a water tap and a help button. There are more than 70 dishes to choose from, including 42 types of sushi.

How it’s different: Portions will be larger than those in the restaurant’s European locations. For example, instead of two large California rolls (Brits call them inside-out rolls), the American YO! Sushi will offer four pieces that are a bit smaller. Prices will range from $2.50 to $6.

Why Union Station: Franchising operations manager Werner Coetzee says the chain does well in transit locations: "I can’t think of a better place to start because of the iconic building that we’re situated in.”

What it looks like: Along the back wall is an eclectic collage of District and Tokyo buildings mixed with pictures of Japanese girls in the popular Harajuku-style clothes and a random assortment of American tourists, policemen, and a guy with a "free hugs" sign. Lucky Cats sit in frames on one side of the space, and a colorful, glossy ceiling is juxtaposed against timber-paneled walls.

What's next: YO! Sushi will open a second U.S. location at 7th and H streets NW in Chinatown early next year.

Photo by Stephanie Haven

  • Erin

    "Portions will be larger than those in the restaurant’s European locations" relates directly to the phenomenon a European friend calls "American portion size disease."

  • Joe in SS

    How is this different from Wasabi on Farragut Square?

  • beth

    @Joe in SS- well, for one, Wasabi is closed....

  • Claire

    In London we do actually call them California Rolls, not 'inside out' rolls. Have never heard that in all the many, many times I have been to a London Yo sushi!

  • Johnny

    There has been conveyor belt sushi at Gallery Place by the movie theater for years. Not very good. But the concept isn't anything new really is it?

  • bob

    Concept of conveyor belt has been around since the 50's. Yo sushis food is better though for the price.

  • tomaj

    the concept has been in asia for a while but not much here. In DC there was one in ballston (closed), wasabi (closed), and in chinatown (pathetic small). the only one i can think of here worth trying is in the middle of tyson's mall.

    i think they're a lot of fun, but you can't expect the best sushi of course.