Japanese fare was once the preserve of hard-to-find quirky restaurants, now eating sushi and noodles on the high street as a speedy lunch time snack is so very accessible.
It is a trend that has spawned a new generation of retail chains, with decidedly mixed results. Wasabi Sushi & Bento is one such attempt to bring hot Japanese food to the masses.
Located at Trinity Leeds is it ideally placed to attract footfall from hungry office workers and there was a constant stream of customers on this early afternoon visit.
A towering space, it is set back from Albion Street behind floor to ceiling glass. It’s all white and chrome interior with flashes of Granny Smith green from its plastic seating give it a sleek, futuristic and minimalist look that is no doubt intended to play on our impression of Japan’s modern culture.
The floorspace stretches long over a large space and the ceiling is high, creating a spacious feel inside.
The service is a simple process. There are large fridges lining the back wall which contain shelves full of sushi, salads, snacks and cold drinks. Move along to the right and you arrive at the hot food counter where a large range of chicken, tofu, vegetable and seafood fillings for bento boxes are presented in large hot plates for you to choose from.
Hot soups are also available but I’m allured by the chicken teriyaki and given a choice of noodles or rice to accompany it, I choose noddles.
A large portion is handed to me in a big, round cardboard box which comes with a plastic lid in case you’re eating out or saving some for later.
There are plenty of individual tables, all in clear, transparent plastic and a line of higher tables with green plastic stools along the front window which proves an ideal location to while away a lunch hour over warm grub and a spot of people watching.
The food was tasty and the portion included enough chicken to ensure I would not be going hungry. Sometimes it is the sloppiness and overbearing taste and quantity of sauce served with noodles which proves disappointing but the match up in this dish was satisfying though the flavour did lack a little bit of depth.
There are some unusual drinks to be had here and I tried a Matcha bubble tea - traditional green tea filled with sweet tapioca balls. Tapioca is a starch extracted from cassava root and the texture won’t be for everyone. These bubble drinks are served with a wide straw so that you can slurp up the tapioca balls as you near the end.
The sushi options were vast, including sets containing crabmeat, chicken katsu, prawns and avocado.
Worth a visit for a speedily served taste of the Far East.