This June, everyone’s favourite colourful-plated Japanese street-food and sushi joint, YO!, landed on tastecard. So now, you can enjoy all those conveyer-belt dishes even more with 2 for 1 plates, 5 days a week.

We caught up with Training and Development Chef, Chris Emelo, to find out a bit more about what to expect from dining at YO! He told us: “If I had to describe YO! in five words, they’d be fast, fun, fresh, culture and balance. There’s a fun spirit at YO! because most branches have an open kitchen. We interact with guests and sometimes I don’t even feel like I’m working. It’s like cooking with friends.”

And when it comes to the actual dishes, there’s a lot more than meets the taste buds at YO! So as well as our Meet the Chef questions, we put some more questions to Chris about the menu itself. Because if you didn’t know, YO! isn’t just raw fish and sushi.

SO, WHAT’S THE YO! MENU LIKE?

What kind of dishes are on YO!’s menu?

“From warming ramens and katsu curries to sharing sushi platters, YO! specialises in delivering sushi and fresh Japanese food. Every day, dishes are handcrafted by chefs made with passion from the freshest ingredients, with impeccable sustainability credentials via small plates, which are price/colour coded.”

Recommendations for a YO! newbie?

“Say YO! to the Chicken Katsu Burger. The nation’s favourite chicken katsu with a street-food spin, served with garlic mayo and crunchy lettuce in a steamed bao burger bun. We also have a range of popular Japanese gyozas, including a tasty Prawn Gyoza packed with fresh veggies and a soy dipping sauce.”

Which plates are served warm and cold?

In addition to hot classics like ramens and katsu curries, YO! have extended their popular hot dishes menu, which includes Japanese Fried Chicken and YO! fries. So,half of the menu is hot.”

What’s raw on the menu?

YO! is on a mission to debunk the myth that sushi is just raw fish. Alongside our Aromatic Duck Roll and Avocado Nigiri we have added a Japanese spin to one of the nation’s favourite sandwich fillings to make sushi more accessible and appealing. Our Chicken & Avocado Roll is perfect for anyone who is put off by the idea of raw fish.”

Vegetarian and vegan options?

“A third of our menu is vegetarian or vegan, with 35 plant-based dishes on offer (in core stores only). The steaming hot Shiitake Mushroom Ramen is a stand-out.”

Gluten-free options?

“27 gluten-free items, including our delicious Chocolate Brownie topped with indulgent salted caramel sauce.”

Now, meet Chris…

What’s your first cooking memory?

“I was 10 years old when I first learnt how to cook rice, which is a must-learn in a Filipino family. Cooking rice is part of our daily chores as we eat it three times a day. Age 12 was when I really started to get into cooking though. I was always with my sister and mum in the kitchen helping. “Sinigang” is one of the first dishes I ever learnt to cook. This is a sour and savoury soup composed of meat or seafood, vegetables and tamarind to give a sour flavour.”

What inspired you to get into cooking?

“Oh-so many things. A Chinese cuisine cooking show starring Stephen Yan called “Wok with Yan”; my sister who cooks most of the time at home; my aunt; the elderly women in our village who I always enjoyed watching when they cooked Filipino delicacies such as Bibingka (sticky rice cake) and Dinuguan (pork blood stew). There were times I would skip playing with friends and sit on the bench of our neighbour’s kitchen and watch them grind glutenous rice on an old-fashioned stone mill.”

Favourite music to cook to?

“Whatever’s on my phone really. I like Charlie Puth and Taylor Swift.”

If you could only eat one thing for the rest of your life, what would it be?

“This is one of my favourite street foods – Filipino Pork Barbeque. It’s chargrilled pork skewers marinated in soy sauce, cane vinegar, sprite, garlic and banana ketchup.”

Name 5 ingredients you can’t live without…

“Rice, eggs, onion, garlic and fish sauce.”

What is the strangest ingredient you’ve ever cooked with? How did it turn out?

“I don’t think I’ve ever used any strange ingredients. I’ve cooked frogs and camaro (crickets) back in the day… it was very tasty!”

What’s your favourite YO! plate to eat?

There are so many but I always have Seafood Ramen and Salmon Yuzu Salsa.

Like the sound of YO! then?

Find your nearest here and get 2 for 1 plates, 5 days a week.

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Want to find out more about the YO! menu?

Discover the dishes.