I have ALWAYS loved anything Japanese – whether it be the culture, architecture old and new, cinema, manga and especially the food!!! Five years ago the other half and I travelled around Tokyo and Kyoto for 10 days, making it one of my favourite holidays to date. I can’t believe it’s been that long, I’d go back in a heart beat!! Japanese cuisine gets 1st or 2nd place on my list of all time, ultimate favourite eats and for me, the fight has always been neck and neck between proper Chinese and Japanese food.
Since Si-Sushi closed a few years ago, there are only a small number of Leeds independents which serve sushi and sashimi, such as the popular Little Tokyo and Teppanyaki on Belgrave Street, but these are full-on meals, are fairly limited in variety and can cost a pretty penny.
So, for months Wasabi Sushi & Bento, the sushi chain has been hidden from prying eyes at Trinity Leeds. Workmen and fitters have worked their magic and finally, after months of waiting it FINALLY opens it’s doors to the public on Wednesday 18th February. Potentially filling a gap in the market in Leeds!
Wasabi made a name for itself by being the first company in the UK to sell individually wrapped pieces of sushi in 2003. Seeing a gap in the market in London, where busy people could get a healthy lunch, that wasn’t your typical sandwich or soup, but also pocket friendly. On my jaunts around London I’d seen many Wasabi branches, but had never ventured into one myself, so I was interested to see how this matched up to the other sushi establishments.
The interior is very sleek, with bright white surfaces screaming cleanliness and has a feel of the futuristic about it. The space is very open with high ceilings, and for customers with a little more time on their hands there are designated eating areas. It certainly made me reminisce about our time in Japan – where people rush around at breakneck speed, doing their thing in a completely ordered manner, as is customary with virtually everything in Japan.
At their hot food counter they serve authentic Japanese Bento box dishes such as Chicken Katsu Curry, Roasted Vegetable Yakisoba and Noodles soups in different forms – Tanmen (thick rice noodles) and Soumen (super thin, rice noodles) with a range of ingredients like prawn tempura or vegetable. All reasonably priced – Tanmen noodles (£5.29 – £5.49), Soumen noodles (£2.99 – £3.29).
Also on the hot counter were a selection of fried goodies, prices are £1-1.50 per piece. I love a bit of fried food I won’t deny it, so asked for a little selection to try out:
All tasted good, sticky and sweet, crisp, juicy and tender where needed. They just need to ensure the temperature of the food doesn’t drop, while still maintaining everything that makes it yummy and moreish.
From what I gathered part of their philosophy is to provide a quick service, that has customer flexibility. Their ‘pick & mix’ sushi is tailor-made for this, all made fresh from scratch each morning, where only the freshest of ingredients are used, all being responsibly and sustainably sourced. I tried a number of different sushi, they have a wide selection to choose from. Whether you are a meat lover or not, there is always something for everyone, and being individually wrapped you can get exactly what you want. Prices range between £1- £1.90 for 2 pieces.
They all looked beautiful and really hit the spot for me, lovely and fresh, they haven’t scrimped on ingredients and all looked equal in quality. I can imagine many a person picking a few of their favourites for lunch or a snack, with the option to takeaway or eating in.
There are also sushi sets and salads for those who may want a little more, whether it’s to take home or to share with others, working your way through a selection of bite size morsels.
I also tried a selection of their speciality drinks – some very interesting flavours are available, in particular the Matcha milkshake made from green tea powder has a very distinctive taste. Out of all the drinks I loved the Aloe water, especially the mango variety which was very refreshing and light!!
Sushi is very well known for being a healthy cuisine, and on their website Wasabi are very keen to promote the nutrition benefits. It was also good to see detailed allergy information as well, so my gluten intolerant other half can hopefully get a sushi fix too!!!
If you really like the idea of Japanese food that’s freshly prepared, quick, healthy, inexpensive with plenty of choice – Wasabi could be for you.
Disclaimer: I was invited to the event so the meal was complimentary, but this was in exchange for an honest, unbiased review.Wasabi Unit 202 9a Albion Street Leeds Trinity LS1 5AY http://www.wasabi.uk.com