LONDON — Brimming with row after glorious row of colorful combinations of raw fish, rice and seaweed, Wasabi is like a candy store for sushi connoisseurs.

And like kids presented with a magnificent variety of sweets, diners at Wasabi might be a little overwhelmed at first, paralyzed by choice. (As most of us know, this feeling quickly subsides when our gluttonous tendencies take over.)

However, the cases of ready-to-eat sushi, seaweed salads and the like strategically located near the entrance are but the beginning at Wasabi. Choose from pre-assembled assortments (4-6 pounds) or select individually wrapped pieces (1-4 pounds each) to make your own box.

Once in, the options mount as the hot-food bar at the back of the restaurant presents even more variety. Dishes range from chicken curry to tofu noodles (3-5 pounds) and are served by the bucketful. (They serve up the hot stuff in a little bucket, which makes it easy to take home leftovers.)

With 11 locations around central London, Wasabi offers fresh and fast meals during a busy shopping trip or sightseeing day in the city. If fast food, pub grub or sandwiches at the coffee shops don’t strike your fancy, let the almost-hypnotic array of Japanese delights lure you in for a quick bite.

And Wasabi keeps its prices reasonable, thanks to robots. Yep, you read it right. Robots help prepare and individually wrap the sushi, according to the restaurant’s Web site.

The robots’ handiwork is reflected in the sushi. It’s perfectly shaped and packaged but missing the little something you get from the steady hand of a sushi chef. You’ll likely leave full but slightly disappointed. There’s something about the food that just misses the mark and to which I attribute its synthetic assembly.

Still, the quality of food, service, selection and late-night weekend hours can’t be beat for a cheap sushi fix. And because you can buy it by the piece at Wasabi, it’s a great place to experiment.

With its gleaming white walls, bright green chairs and colorful food displays, Wasabi is the epitome of clean and trendy. Between its online ordering service and the sushi-making robots, Wasabi is definitely 21st century all the way.

Check out the restaurant’s Web site to get an idea of the history of sushi and to watch a few quirky Japan-imated cartoons about sushi-eating etiquette. One vignette called “Sushi Soup” advises against dipping sushi in the standard soy sauce-wasabi concoction.

“The Sushi chefs cringe at this spectacle Westerners often make,” reads the blurb at the end of the short. “Wasabi paralyzes your palette and will hide the subtle, delicate flavors fish has when eaten raw.”

So while Wasabi is not exactly the place for a romantic dinner for two, it’s definitely a decent, cheap place to grab a quick lunch or dinner next time you’re caught up in the hustle and bustle of London.


Location: 11 eateries in central London

Hours: 11 a.m. to 11 p.m., Monday-Wednesday; 11 a.m. to 2 a.m., Thursday-Saturday; 11 a.m. to 8 p.m., Sunday



Major credit cards accepted

Sign Up for Daily Headlines

Sign up to receive a daily email of today's top military news stories from Stars and Stripes and top news outlets from around the world.

Sign Up Now