Yen Sushi in Bath

If you are in Bath and looking for a relaxed, informal Japanese restaurant you can do no better than Yen Sushi, tucked away at numbers 11 and 12 Bartlett Street. It is a firm favourite with Japanese visitors and Bath residents for so many reasons. They do not take bookings but are open seven days a week from 12pm-3pm at lunch time and between 5.30pm and 10.30pm in the evenings. It is always a good idea to get there early or late to get a good seat. There are great shops up that lane, from the beautiful Loft fashion and homeware shop to Toast, Mee Boutique, the Antiques Centre and Itchy Feet travel shop.

Despite the restaurant room being quite small, it is very light, clean, uncluttered and comfortable. You sit either around the conveyor belt on small stools, or on higher chairs at the window counter or round communal tables. Yen Sushi is Bath’s first kaiten sushi bar, the word “kaiten” meaning “going round”. The system of conveyor belt sushi was invented by restaurateur Yoshiaki Shiraishi (1914-2001). He had difficulty staffing his restaurant so came up with the idea of creating a coveyor belt system after visiting the Asahi beer factory and saw all the bottles going round being filled and corked. It took him no less than five years to develop the machinery and the first kaiten sushi bar was opened in Osaka in 1958. The idea soon caught on!

At Yen Sushi you can watch the very dextrous, careful chefs prepare your food: their fingers are so nimble and accurate and they do not lift their heads, so intent are they in their quest for perfection.

Round and round little plates of sushi, sashimi, nigiri, gunkan, seaweed rolls and tempura go, and you pick whatever you want off the belt. The restaurant is always full by 1pm, so the ingredients are fresh. You can add a bit of wasabi or pickled ginger to your chosen dish as well as soya sauce. Friendly and fast waitresses come to take your drinks orders and if you wish to order a ramen or miso soup or a bento box they will take your order to the kitchen and bring you your choice within minutes. This is a fast food restaurant, for the workers of Bath or the visitors who want to get on with their sightseeing. There is quite loud music played so it would not be suitable for a business meeting or quiet conversation. Eating is the entire point to the experience.

Behind silk panels are the remaining chefs who you cannot see, and every now and then the silk panels rise and you see another dish of fried squid, aubergine salad, endamame soya beans or inari beancurd tofu wraps come out.

The Futomaki sushi rolls are a must-have, as are the Yen Special Bento Box with ebi fry, calamari rings, spring onion, coriander, Japanese steamed rice and tofu steaks. The seafood ramen soup has a miso base with giant king prawns, mussels, noodles, beansprouts and squid rings. There are also dishes filled with small almond cakes, rice cakes, chocolate brownie and slices of watermelon or melon for pudding.

The food on the conveyor belt is served in a series of multi-coloured dishes, and the colour of the dishes indicates the cost, ranging from £1.80 to £4.30. Needless to say you can get very carried away, as the portions are small and the food so light.

Further information

Yen Sushi website:

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