Yoshis Sushi and Grill Providenciales, Turks & Caicos IslandsReviewed March / April 2014

A photograph of Yoshis Japanese Restaurant at The Saltmills, Providenciales (Provo), Turks and Caicos Islands.Yoshis Japanese Sushi and Grill at The Saltmills

By Mandy Rostance-Wolf

The year 2002 was indeed a very fortuitous one for the island of Providenciales. Was it fate, good fortune or destiny that brought Chef Yoshi Ono to Providenciales’ shores more than a decade ago? Renowned for his world-class sushi, he is celebrated by his many devoted aficionados, and garners new devotees every day.

Absolutely passionate about his venerated craft that is steeped in tradition and history, Yoshi’s creations are works of art and his pursuit of perfection is unrelenting. Yoshis Sushi and Grill is his extraordinary vision - hip and exotic with a distinct urban vibe. The pulsating atmosphere is perfectly balanced with a relaxed ‘Zen’ chill. Your first ‘taste’ of this hip and trendy vibe begins with the menu … it’s an iPad. Tap, scroll, zoom in and zoom out throughout this unconventional ‘menu’ of traditional Japanese cuisine that features over 100 items (cooked and raw). There’s sushi, of course, and nigiri, sashimi, soups, salads, vegetarian rolls, sushi set meals, noodle dishes, grilled entrees, box set meals, teriyakis, Japanese curries and steaks – and some very special, authentic recipes from his mother.

A photograph of Rock n Roll at Yoshis Japanese Restaurant, Providenciales (Provo), Turks and Caicos Islands.Special Roll — Rock n Roll at Yoshis Sushi and Grill

The bar menu offers some incredibly creative cocktails created with Sake, an alcoholic beverage made from fermented rice and Shochu, a clear distilled spirit similar to vodka and several Japanese beers.

Yoshi creates and prepares each dish to painstaking, meticulous perfection, so making choices from the extensive menu can be a challenge. As we vacillated from one screen to the next, tapping and scrolling our way through so many perennial favourites, yet eager to experience something new, Yoshi appeared and offered to take the helm, literally. Animated and enthusiastic, he talked about one of his newest menu additions – The $99 Sushi Boat Special. While sushi boats are nothing new, this culinary vessel holds seven different sushi rolls – 56 pieces of fabulous sushi for only $99.00. Ahoy, we were ready to set sail! But first, we indulged in appetisers: Sashimi Blossom and Conch Dumplings.

A photograph of Soyokaze at Yoshis Japanese Restaurant, Providenciales (Provo), Turks and Caicos Islands.Soyokaze served in a boat at Yoshis

To compliment this authentic experience, we agreed sake would be a perfect food pairing. Yoshi was quick to acknowledge that sake goes well with seafood and offered the choice of hot or cold, dry or sweet. Cold and dry was the consensus. The bulbous glass serving carafe was quite eye-catching with an indented dimple that holds chipped ice to keep the sake cold without watering it down. The Aizu Homare Junmai sake proffered lovely aromas with layers of fresh apple and melon with a light, clean finish; a unique and engaging departure from wine.

The sweet-smelling and nutty scent of sesame oil pervaded the air as soon as The Sashimi Blossom was placed on the table. A floral design of delicate slices of tuna, salmon, yellowtail and escolar ‘petals’ were enveloped in a luscious citrus dressing and sprinkled with scallions and fish roe. Yoshi explained that the sauce was made from a very special Japanese citrus fruit called ‘yuzu’.

A photograph of Kamikaze Roll at Yoshis Japanese Restaurant, Providenciales (Provo), Turks and Caicos Islands.Special Roll - Kamikaze Roll at Yoshis Sushi and Grill

He retreated to the kitchen and returned with a bottle of 100% yuzu juice, cradling it like a rare bottle of vintage wine. An expensive condiment, he explained how concentrated the juice is and that just a small squeeze is all that’s needed for big flavour. About the size of a tangerine, yuzu tastes like a combination of lemon, mandarin and grapefruit and imparts a tart, sour flavour. Of course, the delicate and flavourful fish simply melted on your tongue. Together with the delectable sauce, this dish was in perfect harmony and balance.

I’ve seen conch prepared a lot of ways but dumplings are a new one, and leave it to Yoshi to create it. The crispy, golden dumplings were stuffed to bursting with tender, minced conch that we unreservedly plunged into the sweet chili sauce. It packed a palatable punch and was hailed to be the ideal sweet-heat combination.

A photograph of The Sushi Boat Special at Yoshis Japanese Restaurant, Providenciales (Provo), Turks and Caicos Islands.The $99 Sushi Boat Special at Yoshis Sushi and Grill

While enjoying a refreshing and palate-cleansing citrus sherbet we sat amused and entertained, observing our server ready our table for the arrival of the sushi boat. We watched in delight and anticipation as she began to move everything to the four corners of the table – she examined the space like an architect, pausing to take a step back to analyze and assess the accuracy of her preparations. She’d certainly done this a time or two … her estimation was right on and the sushi boat sailed in, to a chorus of delighted gasps of anticipation. The beautifully lacquered wooden boat deck, laden with the brilliant and vivid colours of the sushi rolls was quite a visual culinary masterpiece. Bow to stern and port to starboard we had it covered with Volcano, Caribbean, Lobster Tempura, Crunchy Shrimp, Spicy Tuna with Crunchy Cilantro, Spicy Conch and Negishiro. The sushi rolls were loaded with generous dollops of roe -- those marvelous and almost luminous tiny fish eggs that literally burst in your mouth, adding vibrant colour, texture and flavour to many of Yoshis dishes. We all agreed we could eat roe by the bucket.

A photograph of Volcano Roll at Yoshis Japanese Restaurant, Providenciales (Provo), Turks and Caicos Islands.Special Roll - Volcano at Yoshis

At once our table became a blur of chopsticks, thrusting and striking with great speed and skillful precision, all of us eager to seize and savour this culinary cargo. Volcano’s snow crab, cucumber, shrimp, avocado, scallion and roe prompted my fellow diner to confess, “My favourite … always has been.”

I lose all control when it comes to tempura, anything tempura. The presentation of the Lobster Tempura was outstanding and the mouthwatering, crispy crunch was utterly spectacular. Spicy Tuna with Crunchy Cilantro and Spicy Conch both lived up to their names; “It is spicy” was the general and palpably pleasurable consensus.

A photograph of a Caribbean Roll at Yoshis Japanese Restaurant, Providenciales (Provo), Turks and Caicos Islands.Caribbean Roll at Yoshis Sushi and Grill

The Spicy Conch Roll gets its pizzazz from that infamous, top-secret sauce that graces several other Yoshi creations. Considered classified information, its base is a Japanese Mayo; similar to a chili sauce it was an ideal contrast to the mild conch and cucumber flavours. The raw Caribbean Roll with tuna, salmon on top of a Spicy Tuna Roll and the cooked Crunchy Shrimp Tempura Roll both oozed creamy, dreamy decadence with plenty of buttery avocado; and that lovely, delicate flavour and texture of escolar tuna reappeared in the Negishiro Roll with scallions and rice.

Lost and adrift in our sushi stupor; as if on cue, we all sat back and gazed at our commendable feat, the decks clean and clear of sushi. Across the table I heard my favourite dining companion utter something about licking the deck! Ideal for a group of four, at $99 this really is an incredible deal no matter how you slice, dice or chop it.

A photograph of Executive Chef and owner Yoshi Ono at Yoshis Japanese Restaurant, Providenciales (Provo), Turks and Caicos Islands.Executive Chef and Owner Yoshi Ono at Yoshis Sushi and Grill

Pleased with our implementation and execution of that incredible, edible vessel, Yoshi recommended Mochi Ice Cream for dessert. Not your conventional ice cream dessert, this was a traditional Japanese confection. The ice cream is coated with a rice ‘shell’ exterior that Yoshi compared to pasta. The spoon-tender shell enveloped the dollops of delicious Mango and Green Tea Ice Cream like a pod, light, refreshing and the perfect finish.

There is no denying Chef Yoshi Ono has come a long way… 8000 miles as the crow flies (give or take a few) to be exact. His unreserved and unbounded creativity is indeed Providenciales’ good fortune. More than 100 menu items… and counting!

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