Sushi for the soul: Umami for days at Sushi Waka

As Friday rolls (no pun intended) around again, my thoughts are strictly of the takeaway-themed variety.

Living in the City Centre has its downsides – especially in a lockdown, where the most interesting walk from your door features several near misses with the ring road. But when it comes to food choices, I have to admit that living here makes me completely and utterly spoilt.

So when the urge to order copious amounts of sushi strikes at the end of the week, I am powerless to deny it. In fact, I’m scrolling various food delivery sites before my brain can even register what’s going on – a reflex
that’s definitely strengthened in the past 12 months.

Leeds has a fairly vibrant array of sushi feasting opportunities, but this time we opt for Sushi Waka, the longtime resident of New Briggate boasting a wide selection Japanese dishes. In normal times, the blisteringly plasticky karaoke bar above it would be blasting out pop classics from about this time on a Friday night, and I take a moment to remember the shouting, sweating and shots that have led many after-work drinkers astray
over the years.

These are not times for loud attempts at singing in crowded rooms, however. What these are times for, are enjoying the delectable delights we’re lucky enough to have right on our doorstep. And that’s exactly what I
did next.

Sushi

If you’re ordering from Sushi Waka, plan in some time for perusing its gigantic menu. This place has it all – from your traditional nigiri and maki to the more adventurous sushi ‘donuts’ and ‘burritos’ plus a range of
noodles, curries and vegan dishes. We go simple, ordering salmon, tuna and BBQ eel nigiri, which arrive like pairs of tiny, jewelled clouds nestled among packets of soy sauce and chunks of wasab

Nigiri

A row of tuna and avocado uramaki (rice on the outside) come neatly folded into coins of joy, along with tightly rolled futomaki (seaweed on the outside) stuffed with teriyaki chicken and cucumber. The fish is fresh,
the rice soft – and with a dash of soy sauce, the two combine into a satisfying moment of umami that makes the rest of the world melt away. Well, almost.

Tuna and avocado uramaki

Perhaps unconventionally, we’re also tempted by a starter dish of takoyaki (featured) – or octopus balls as they’re more elegantly known. This traditional Okinawan snack comprises octopus, deep fried in a light dough and topped with bonito flakes, mayo and tonkatsu sauce. The result is a blend of sweet, savoury and creamy that feels like friendship in your mouth, all cushioned by a comforting stodginess that leaves you instantly reaching for
another.

Wakami

To cut through it all, we order a generous helping of wakame seaweed salad, which arrives refreshingly sweet and topped with sesame seeds. The bill isn’t inconspicuous, but when you choose to eat sushi, it pays to be
sure you’re doing it right. And with Sushi Waka, what you don’t get in pretentiousness you get back in deliciousness.

This is a Leeds local whose reputation precedes it. So next time you’re after a spot of sushi – traditional, vegan or otherwise – Sushi Waka is more than worth a browse and a well-placed order. Hit them up on Deliveroo or straight through the website to get their self-proclaimed ‘taste of Tokyo’ delivered straight to your door.

Leeds Living