Cornmarket Street in Oxford has long been dominated by fast food, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing. Fighting the good fight against the big three of McDonald’s, Burger King and KFC there is now serious reinforcements to Pret a Manger in the shape of Bills and The Mission on St. Michael’s Street, aided by the niche Coffee house, Zappis. But the newest arrival Itsu has brought the heat right to the front line; opening up where The Works once sold discount books, Itsu has brought healthy and fast right to the forefront of punters thoughts on one of the busiest streets in the City.
Sushi packs, hot pots and fast healthy food is summed up in a catchy tagline:
All of this is available to grab and go or to sit in and watch the world go by. As per usual, I wanted to go when the initial fanfare of the opening night had gone to give you readers a flavour of what it would feel like on a Tuesday night. And it was busy at 7.30 when everything else seemed empty.
I sampled three of the key things, the roast duck rice Potsu, the sushi and the frozen yoghurt on with a mix of all toppings. All three were excellent (I will let the picture do the rest of the talking below!) As well as sampling the food I wanted to get a feel for the people running the joint.
The Oxford branch is managed by a team, but running it that evening was Emil, who has worked his way up from washing pots and working in the Canary Wharf branch to managing the first Itsu store outside of Oxford. Not only is Emil a manager, he is evidently a brand ambassador, passionate about the Itsu brand and not just selling the products, but the philosophy behind the whole concept. Emil sat and talked us through the highlights of opening and how busy they have been, and the difference between customer behaviour of the clients from London to those in Oxford. Emil had noted that Oxford clientele now wait until 9,30 when Itsu holds a half price sale to ensure they get hold of the good food on sale. One thing is clearly evident, that Itsu staff are living the brand, an essential ingredient in any meal, because these staff believe in what they are doing.
Itsu is a welcome addition to the eating venues on Cornmarket. Fast, fresh but healthy, this is a place that is clearly going to offer some serious competition to the fast three I mentioned earlier and worth a visit if you need something on the go, or if you want to sit down and eat.
Food Of The Ox Rating: 9/10