Yoobi is the first-time project of Nicolas Steiner and Carolina Rodrigues, a couple with ties to Japan and Brazil, who found themselves inspired by Brazil's temakerias - Japanese and Brazilian fusion restaurants - on a trip to the country.
The 20-cover restaurant, which they set up themselves with help from investors in Denmark and Asia, opened earlier this week in Soho's Lexington Street where it serves freshly-made temaki (a rolled cone of seaweed around a mixture of rice, vegetables and or meat and fish), alongside maki sushi, sashimi, salads and soups designed to both eat-in and takeaway.
"We thought that London was the perfect place for the concept," Steiner told BigHospitality. "There has been an emergence of sushi places, but a lot of the time food is made in advance and refrigerated. We make everything fresh, and from the minute someone places their order we can have it ready in 60 seconds.
"It's a fun concept and we're trying to break some of the rules as they have done in Brazil - making it fun and casual but at the same time we take our food very seriously and are targeting people looking for a quick, but fresh and tasty lunch, dinner or a snack."
Latin American trend
Steiner said he didn't see Yoobi as part of London's Latin American restaurant movement, but said it was not surprising that the UK's capital and other parts of the world were seeing more restaurants from that region open.
"We've seen an emergence of that continent in the last couple of years due to the development of its countries' economies so there are a lot more home-grown restaurant concepts around and a lot more confidence in food from that region. Latin America was always borrowing concepts from the West, particularly North America, now they are developing their own ideas and pushing their food to the rest of the world."
Events and expansion
Steiner and Rodrigues are keen to roll out the concept, but will wait to see the success of the first. "We do have expansion plans but not yet. We need to focus on delivering the best we can in our first location," said Steiner.
First they will explore the option of catering at outside events. "We could take this out to events - we have a section in the restaurant where we just have two or three people rolling the temaki. We could make that mobile and still deliver the food fresh as it could be prepared on the spot."