Standing outside York Minster one only needs to take a few steps onto Minster Gates and turn a hundred and eighty degrees to marvel at one of York’s finest views, the Minster looming imposingly above the pretty bookshops and recently refurbished plaza. If you’re so minded it’s then just a few retraced steps to about face again at the entrance to Precentor’s Court, surrounded by stunning buildings and immersed in the history. From there it’s an amble through Bootham Bar and around the corner onto Gillygate to arrive at your dinner destination ready to marvel further at plastic mock food, handwritten notes and a mild sense that one shouldn’t have stopped walking and polluted one’s vision after bearing witness to some of York’s finest views.
Asia Gourmet sits about halfway along Gillygate and, it must be said, has one of the least tempting frontages of any places to eat in York. Indeed I have friends who have never eaten there, and will never eat there, simply because they can’t bring themselves to circumnavigate the entrance. (“One does not simply WALK into Asia Gourmet…”)
Serving a great choice of Sushi and describing itself as a Japanese Brasserie, Asia Gourmet has impressed itself upon a dedicated following who are happy to ignore the somewhat mixed presentation and enjoy the bargain priced food. I’m the first to confess that my sushi ordering skills are extremely limited so my usual ploy is to smile nicely and request ‘plenty of sushi and sashimi please’. To date this has invariably resulted in moist, sticky rice, beautifully seasoned fish, egg and seaweed.
Straying away from the Sushi you can find the usual roster of noodle, rice and meat dishes. From the side dishes I could personally eat as many spare ribs as they’re able to provide. As far as the larger dishes go, anything with pork has always exceeded expectations. The one frustration I have that seems worth committing to public record is the Miso soup. Perhaps a consequence of my scattershot ordering approach, everything tends to be preceded by Miso soup presented at a temperature somewhere between ‘The Sun’ and ‘Pyroclastic flow’. It may not be offensive but I find it flavourless, containing oddly textured morsels and capable of retaining temperature for physics defying periods.
While sushi seems pretty well embedded in most people’s consciousness now, one thankfully hears “raw fish?!!?!?! *wretching noise*” much less frequently these days, there isn’t massive competition in York. Yo Sushi provides its blend of novelty and freshly prepared food from a more central base but location excepted I find it hard to recommend that over Asia Gourmet’s unique charms.
Yes it has no idea what ‘Kerb Appeal’ means, no it doesn’t take cards, the drinks list is strictly functional, no it doesn’t deliver, no it doesn’t have a website, yes I’ve found it irritatingly shut for a couple of weeks at a time, there’s just a single toilet that’s in slightly too personal a proximity to the diners but it really is worth it – I promise. Ignore all those fripperies, have some great food, be pleased with how cheap it is then head back round the corner to have another look at the Minster.
PS: I know I said there’s no website, that’s largely true….there’s no official site but my friend Matthew kept losing his menu so he set up http://www.asia-gourmet.co.uk