Our Japanese reporter dishes on her experience trying sushi at a popular sushi delivery chain.

When abroad, it can be fun to sample food from your home country adapted for local palates. That’s just what our Japanese-language reporters, including the travel-loving Ikuna Kamezawa, love to do with sushi in particular.

Ikuna had been exploring Berlin for a few days when she realized there was one particular ad that she kept seeing everywhere that stood out more than others–“Yoko Sushi.” It was of an attractive woman with dark hair holding chopsticks with a piece of sushi while smiling brightly into the camera. Yoko is a classic Japanese female name, but she couldn’t tell if the woman in the photo was Japanese or not.

A quick online search told her that Yoko Sushi is a chain found throughout Germany, and with her curiosity getting the best of her, she decided to try it out for herself.

The location she visited looked more like a cafe from the outside than any sushi chain she had ever seen in Japan.

It looked surprisingly snug inside, but then she realized that the chain seems to do most of its business through delivery orders. She was somehow touched that the German people appreciate sushi so much that there’s a whole business dedicated to it. As a Japanese person, she wants to thank them.

Stepping inside, the interior looked even more like a cafe with its bright decorations and plants.

A female worker greeted Ikuna with a big smile and handed her a paper menu. She wasn’t the Yoko in the ad, but that wasn’t surprising.

The main focus of the menu seemed to be a variety of makimono (rolled sushi). In fact, she could only find one nigirizushi (hand-pressed sushi), made using salmon, at all. There were also spring rolls and some other kinds of dishes that she couldn’t exactly place, which she figured were some new forms of sushi that had uniquely evolved overseas, perhaps like the differences between Indian curry and Japanese curry.

Ikuna ordered her food then took a seat outside at the lovely terrace seating.

She was impressed to see a bottle of Kikkoman soy sauce on the table and was intrigued by the wooden chopsticks, which poked out of the illustrated wrapper as if they were feet for the design of the woman. Clever!

Her order arrived about 10 minutes later. It was a combination of a signature Yoko Roll with chicken (four pieces for 7.4 euros [1,255 yen/US$8]) and a Tofu Roll (six pieces for 4.4 euros). If she squinted, she thought they almost looked like sweets.

Upon closer inspection, the Yoko Roll was covered with breadcrumbs and then fried. It wasn’t like anything she had ever seen before, but it looked good enough.

Make that looked good and tasted good! It was pleasantly crispy on the outside, and besides chicken, the roll was also packed with green onions and cucumbers and perhaps a hint of cheese. The sauce was sweet like the kind you’d find on top of an anago eel dish. She couldn’t imagine how this particular combination of ingredients had come into existence, but she thought it was a fresh fusion that might also be popular in Japan. The vinegared rice was also prepared well.

Next she tried the Tofu Roll. Perhaps the tofu had been smoked…? That’s the kind of flavor it gave off. It also contained cucumber, some greens, and perhaps a hint of something like [tomato-based] Aurora sauce.

For whatever reason this one was very filling to her and before long she felt full. She was also amused to realize that it was probably the very first time in her life that she had gone to a sushi restaurant and hadn’t eaten any fish.

No other customers came to the door while she was there, but a delivery worker was constantly going in and out with orders. She thought this must be a very well-liked place among the locals.

She was now even more curious about the origin of the chain’s name. Was Yoko real or an invented person? Was she the one who came up with all of the novel sushi combinations? If you’re the Yoko who inspired its name, please send a message Ikuna’s way–she’d love to show you some of our team’s favorite sushi places in Tokyo sometime.

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