The owners of Yujo are young and enthusiastic about everything Japanese, a penchant reflected throughout the restaurant. Check the bottoms of the soy sauce cups if you’re unsure – no Chinese makes or models here. Everything in the restaurant is authentically Japanese including the ingredients 90 percent of which are from Japan.
The first dining area strikes the right mood being calm, cautiously lit, and open and with six to eight tables surrounding a large bar/sushi counter that seat about 20. There is also an ‘Izakaya’ dining area in another building where patrons sit on traditional tatami mats on the floor and eat from low tables.
The wait staff are numerous, attentive and knowledgeable – which is good as anyone less than a sushi aficionado will find the six page menu daunting. There were eight staff on the dining floor serving seven tables plus two chefs behind the counter.
The chefs have had 15 years training in Japanese cuisine and it shows in the dishes produced. Yujo’s does serve an ample variety of Japanese dishes so it would be a shame if it became pigeon-holed as a ‘sushi restaurant’ with customers not venturing on to other items. The Katsu Don (a bowl of rice topped with a deep fried pork, egg and vegetable) had a disappointing lack of promised leeks (being cheekily replaced by scallions) and vegetable but despite this was comparable to what one would find in London. The sushi was also comparable to decent London sushi restaurants. Sushi can be ordered a la carte or by platter with platter prices varying from 29,000 to 78,000. The platters were fresh and plentiful with only the shrimp being unimpressively chewy and the maki rolls being loosely rolled.
Starters vary from Miso Soup at 7,000 to Tempura, Udon, Tataki and Katsu up to 26,000. Other mains are in the 24,000-38,000 range. The drinks menu bears an extensive non-alcoholic section with concoctions veering inventively from the standard Kampala list of a couple of sodas and a juice options. Wine is served by bottle (up to 75,000) or by the glass (7,900).
Four other items bear special mention. First, parking is street side so can be limited. Second, unless dining early book a table – especially if your party is over four people – or you will find a wait or be seated at the bar. Third, the choices in background music on any given evening are bemusing – take notice – ranging from the greatest hits of the 60′s-80′s to South American pan pipes. Fourth, the toilets seem to have been imported from outer space and should be visited for the sake of themselves. The sinks, also of modern design and without taps seem impossible to switch on but it can be accomplished by twisting the faucet spout.
Overall, if diners are looking for a solid Japanese dining experience they can now find it in Kampala. If they’re looking for a magnificent experience perhaps Air Uganda could be persuaded to put a flight on to Tokyo.
The restaurant is open Mon-Sat, 12-3pm and 6-10:30pm. Closed on Sundays. Find Yujo on Facebook