English tuna, sushi offer a break from American food

One does not go to England for the food—Big Ben, sexy accents or the Queen, perhaps—but never the food.  

 

Against our better judgment, my roommate and I ventured to the United Kingdom over break, where we were pleasantly surprised by the variety and quality of English cuisine. They must have heard I was coming. 

 

We started out the trip wonderfully, discovering the holy grail of English culinary delights at a shop called Upper Crust. Their foot-long baguette with herbed mayo, sliced tomatoes and aged cheddar was a thing of beauty.  

 

If you winked suggestively and made sure to pronounce it ""toe-ma-toe,"" they would even toast it for you. If you winked suggestively and followed them into the back storage room—well—I'm not actually sure what my roommate got out of that maneuver, but I'm sure it was delicious. 

 

Our amiable host Richard later informed us that Upper Crust was a trashy, train station chain. However, we ignored him because he's British, and therefore incapable of making culinary declarations.  

 

Growing up in a nation devoid of Cinnamon Toast Crunch and chocolate Pop-tarts surely stunts one's taste buds, not to mention their ability to love. 

 

Despite his distasteful palate, Richard did lead us to some amazing sushi in SoHo. 

 

The fish from Yo! Sushi was quite good, but it was the presentation that really enamored us to this quirky establishment.  

 

Having decided that waiters are soooo 1999, Yo! Sushi sends it most popular dishes around the central seating area on two conveyor belts, allowing diners to pick and choose their entrees at will. The plates are even color-coded according to price, so you can assess the damage as you select your meal. 

 

I was able to snag some scrumptious California rolls and shrimp tempura before I was asked to leave for re-enacting the famous ""I Love Lucy"" candy factory episode. 

 

For those on any sort of budget—this is important considering the horrific exchange rate and the reduced drinking age—I highly recommend the humble digestive biscuit.  

 

What sounds like an oat-laden cracker for the elderly is actually a delicious, chocolate-dipped cookie.  

 

They come in adorable tubes of 10 to 14 cookies that retail for about a pound, which is equivalent to just over two dollars at the moment, and will fill you up until bar time.  

 

They also pair beautifully with any sweet red wine if you decided to stay in and drink, say, half a case of the stuff. 

 

Excess was a common theme of this trip, demonstrated most clearly by our visit to an outstanding, all-you-can-eat tapas restaurant, whose name eludes me at the moment.  

 

Their menu was huge, and between the three of us we sampled nearly everything on it.  

 

Richard and I, being carnivorous gluttons, shared huge Spanish meatballs, tangy spare ribs, seafood paella and searing-hot sausages. My veggie-oriented roommate feasted on cheesy bread, a few rice dishes and some awesome fried potatoes. 

 

I should make it clear that not every meal in the UK was a hit. There was the ill-advised ""Tuna Crunch"" that I purchased from a pharmacy in London. It was similar to a standard tuna salad—if you include small, crunchy pebbles and chunks of Spam in your standard tuna salad. It also came with a fork that required assembly, which completely blew my mind.  

 

My only fish and chips experience was a failure as well. A cheap middle-eastern shop named ""Tasty Treats"" was probably not the best place to experience this English classic. The fish and chips looked like a small, lightly-breaded fetus. Mmm Mmm good!

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