‘Affordable sushi makes miso happy,’ admits Anja Madhvani
Cheap sushi, words that simultaneously thrill and terrify. I have long assumed that sushi has to be pricey, if I’m not paying through the nose I’ll surely end up paying with a brutal bout of botulism? Here to prove that theory wrong is Yummy Sushi Bar.
This gem is nestled in Kirkgate Market, but not in the street food hall. I walked straight past it when we arrived because I’d been distracted by a robotic He Man toy at a neighbouring stall, and consequently spent twenty minutes doing hangry laps of the entire market. Anyway, we eventually found it. If you enter from the outdoor market at the end of Row G you should see it straight away. Here’s a handy map (see page 2) because the signposting at Kirkgate Market is shoddy at best, and the sign for row G has actually fallen down. Classic.
It’s a happy meeting of textures, and every roll holds its shape despite being crammed full
This is a colourful little bar with tall stools at the counter. It’s tacky but delightfully so, painted in garish shades of yellow and pink. We take a perch and are greeted by Dian, a man busily lining up Deliveroo and Just Eat checks. The printer spews one out every fifteen minutes or so during our visit, and this one man band is almost a blur as he rolls, chops and fries each item to order. He’s incredibly organised, it’s quite remarkable to watch.
The menu is extensive, from sushi and sashimi to broths, noodles, curries and specials that Dian has conjured up. This is usually cause for concern, but thankfully my worries are misplaced. We dive straight in with tuna sashimi (£5.00) and cucumber maki rolls (£1.50). The sashimi portion is generous, and the texture is meaty yet soft, sashimi grade. Little pots of soy, pickled ginger and wasabi are dotted along the counter and we help ourselves. The favourite is the soft shell crab iso roll (£3.50). The crab is coated in a crisp tempura batter and rolled with cucumber, spinach and pickled ginger. This is encased in rice and rolled in fish eggs, which burst on your tongue. It’s a happy meeting of textures, and every roll holds its shape despite being crammed full of crab.
Dian is chatty and happy to answer our questions about the business. He runs it on his own six days a week and is a single parent. The man is a top egg. He tells us about leaving Afghanistan and moving to the UK, where he worked his way through various kitchen jobs in London. He spent eleven years as a training manager at Yo Sushi, finally deciding to apply everything he had learnt to opening his own business. He is transparent about every aspect, particularly the suppliers he has chosen. He uses the market stalls for vegetables, but all the fish and specialist products are sourced from quality Japanese food suppliers.
He tells us this while plying us with complimentary green tea, and working his way through the take away orders that continue to come in. We’re in no rush, our dishes arrive as and when they are ready, the pace is actually spot on. Veggie gyoza (£2.50) are crispy and come with a sesame dip. Personally I prefer my gyoza steamed with a crispy bottom, but these are still flavoursome, just salty enough.
Vegetable yaki soba (£2.50) is balanced, a mixture of umami with a tang of sweetness. It’s simple, no nonsense, just some veg and noodle in a tasty bit of sauce. The portion size is great for a light lunch, some maki rolls and these noodles would be ideal for a grab and go bite. Perhaps the greatest shock was the pumpkin katsu curry with rice, which was astonishingly cheap at just £3.00. The sweet pumpkin is covered in crisp panko breadcrumbs and the sauce is thick and fruity.
We finish things off with a duck ishe bone bao bun (£4.50). The bun is fluffy and the shredded duck is sticky, with sesame seeds, spring onion and pickled cucumber. It could have done with a little more filling, but for the price I’m not going to quibble.
If you’re visiting in person I’d recommend trying mid afternoon after the take away lunch rush. We didn’t manage to try any of the noodle soups, we can’t all train for all you can eat sushi a la Simon Richardson in his recent Blue Sakura review. But crikey, was I full by the time we left.
I once spent a month in Thailand chortling with glee as I stumbled around with a belly full of noodles and pockets full of rattling change, I lived like a king. Yummy Sushi Bar rekindled a little of that joy, we left with full tums and wallets. Well, as full as the wallet of a freelancer can ever be.
Yummy Sushi Bar, Unit 456, Kirkgate Market, 34 George Street, Leeds, LS2 7HY
Or order online from Deliveroo or Just Eat.
All scored reviews are unannounced, impartial, paid for by Confidential and completely independent of any commercial relationship. Venues are rated against the best examples of their type: 1-5: saw your leg off and eat it, 6-9: Netflix and chill, 10-11: if you're passing, 12-13: good, 14-15: very good, 16-17: excellent, 18-19: pure class, 20: cooked by God him/herself.
Tuna sashimi 8, tuna maki 7, crab iso roll 9, veggie gyoza 7, cucumber maki 7, pumpkin katsu 8, yasai yakisoba 8, duck bao 7
Dian is a pretty excellent one man band
it’s not a restaurant, but the people watching is great and there’s a really buzz in the market