YO! recently launched YO! Kitchen, their new table service restaurant in Westfield White City. I headed on over on a Sunday afternoon I must say Westfield is not my idea of Zen however YO! Kitchen is situated away from the heavy foot traffic; a relief to my friend and I. Identifiable by its iconic signage and large digital screens; an outdoor pergola with striking greenery evoking a Japanese garden feel greets diners. The minimalist wooden structure continues inside reminiscent of room partitions and resembling giant chopsticks. The interior décor is welcoming, light and airy with clean simple lines. Cute little origami birds hang from branches placed around the restaurant. Seating comprises of small wooded tables and cosy booths, one of which we were seated in.
Our friendly waitress Juliana explained the Kyo Yu sharing concept of YO! Kitchen. With approx. 40 small plates, 12 large plates and sharing platters, there’s an opportunity to discover classic and new flavor combinations including interesting fusion dishes such as Japanese corndog, sashimi pizza and katsu curry aricini. Large plates feature popular dishes from Katsu Curry and Ramen bowls to ‘special plates’ with a Japanese twist. We decided upon 4 small plates and 2 larger dishes; Chicken gyoza, Crispy spicy marinated squid, Prawn Katsu Sushi rolls topped with spicy tuna and Tuna Tartare. Also Salmon Teriyaki and Miso black cod accompanied by sides of sticky rice.
The drinks menu is also broad including Japanese beers, non-alcoholic/alcoholic drinks with Yuzu, Umesh Plum, Roku Gin and Sake as its core ingredients. We opted for yuzu inspired soft drinks for a refreshing palate cleansing start to our meal.
Plates arrived reasonably close together filling our table with a spectrum of colour, bursting with fragrance. Every dish was aesthetically pleasing with delicate little finishing touches. Gyoza’s, my go to little parcels of joy were packed with flavour, the sushi rolls were a multi sensory experience of texture and flavour with just the right amount of spice.
Our fish dishes were freshly cooked flaking to perfection, beautifully presented plates worthy of a fine dining restaurant. The miso black cod was perched on a lotus leaf with delicate accompaniments of charred shishito peppers, pickled red onions & decorated with a crisp lotus root. The delicate buttery flesh had subtle sweet salty miso flavours, enriched with a generous squeeze of lime.
The salmon was presented on a bed of sugar snaps with contrasting pickled red cabbage and scattering of bright edible flowers. The flesh was rich, slightly oily although I did feel that the teriyaki glaze could have been more pronounced. A squeeze of lemon helped enrich the flavour.
We left the tartare until last; I think subconsciously we were a little put off by the raw egg yolk on top. For a richer flavor, we were advised to mix the yolk into the dish. We were both pleasantly surprised at how refreshing and light it was, a citrus and spice infusion with avocados adding texture and a nuttiness to the dish.
We could not resist reaching for the dessert menu, which features a small selection of popular Japanese inspired desserts. We chose a Hirata doughnut and a Mochi ice cream ball. The doughnut was a decadent unsweetened fried bun with a light crisp outer shell and a slight chewiness on the inside. Filled with rich creamy vanilla ice cream, drizzled with miso caramel and a sprinkling of pistachio, it offers a delicious sweet salty combination. Perfect if you have a sweet tooth but slightly too rich for me. However, the mochi tropical mango ice cream was a winner and a perfect end to our meal. Mouth watering, tangy and very refreshing, the sticky purple mochi slowly melts in the mouth.
Overall a lovely experience with attentive friendly table service, a great place to visit with friends and enjoy the sharing experience. Price point is reasonable and comparative to similar Japanese restaurants. For die hard fans of YO! expecting the iconic conveyor belt system and coloured small plates, you will probably be disappointed. There are a few classic dishes on the menu to ease you in, but be open minded; come in and take a load off… change is good.
Address: Unit 1089A, Westfield London Shopping Centre, Ariel Way, W12 7GB
Written by: Eboni Addoh