Chef Jessica Hoy tilts her head and her eyebrows dance. A playful grin shows you she relishes her work. The blue-eyed head chef from Ohio stands out in the male-dominated sushi world. She minces scallions into specks like subatomic particles and preps fish with the skill of a surgeon.
Her open kitchen at YO! Sushi serves food fast, not fast food.
To duplicate a “kaiten’’ sushi bar, it features a 200-foot conveyor belt that weaves a number of Japanese dinners, drinks, and desserts (like chocolate biscuit Pocky) between tables.
Venezuela-born general manager Alex Benitez, who opened the Sarasota location as well as Tampa, says each YO! Sushi has moving food but each has its own layout and color scheme.
The chain, with a handful of locations in the states, has more than 80 between Great Britain and the Middle East.
The splashy lime green-and-orange eatery recently debuted poke, pronounced ‘poh-KAY’ bowls. Instead of chasing Pokémon Go, more should search out poke such as Shichimi Chicken, Goma Tofu and Tuna Ponzu poke. These prisms of color and taste from the Hawaiian Islands cost $4.50-$5 and nicely contrast cooked and raw, hot and cold ingredients. The aromatic, Tuna Ponzu boasts citrus Yuzu Furikaki, seaweed, crunchy cucumbers, pickled green onions, and sesame seeds atop Japanese rice.
We like a Fish No Chip Roll (tempura yellowtail, cucumbers, and wasabi), a Japanese version of the British favorite created by its executive chef who is from Liverpool.
Maguro Katsu, a riff on tuna salad, transforms yellowfin tuna, mayo and wasabi as panko crumb-coated logs, fried crisp into croquettes.
Cream cheese tames the Sriracha in Ginza, which features two heavyweights: Arenkha caviar and salmon.
A spider roll utilizes soft shelf crab and pickled ginger with yuzu tobiko and a sweet chili sauce. A chili mayo renders sophisticated bites of a succulent soft-shell crab tempura.
Chicken wings, rich with sake, soy and ginger marinade will soothe sushi-squeamish guests.
End dinner with green tea, mango, strawberry or vanilla flavored, icy rice balls named Mochi.
Discover YO! Sushi during a $1 off Happy Hour (3:30 p.m. to 6:30 p.m., Tuesday-Friday).
Add a little more YO! with a $2 sake shot to celebrate.
Photos by MARY SCOURTES GREACEN