Anyone who knows me knows that Japanese is, hands down, my favourite cuisine ‐ it’s always my answer when asked what one food I would choose to eat for the rest of my life if I were on a desert island (and if this surprises you, udon know me well enough, evidently). So when I was asked to review a japanese restaurant across the road from my flat, I pounced at the opportunity. The restaurant in question is Harajuku Kitchen, located in Bruntsfield. This eatery brings the authenticity of Japanese cooking to Edinburgh, and its minimal interior (with artwork by a local Japanese artist) and homey atmosphere make it somewhere you really must try.
Harajuku Kitchen boasts a wide range of food in its menu, with a nice selection of both hot and cold dishes. The starters menu was particularly impressive, offering dishes such as braised mackerel, beef tataki, karaage chicken and, if you’re feeling particularly adventurous, takoyaki (octopus balls). Gyoza dumplings were also listed as a starter, with a veggie (£4.95) and pork (£5.95) option, which was what I opted for to ease me into my meal. If you have visited Harajuku’s pop‐up stall at the Stockbridge market, you’ll understand me when I say that they were one of the best dumplings I’ve had in Edinburgh. They were both crispy and tender with a succulent pork filling, leaving me wishing I didn’t have to share my starter with my friend who I had brought along with me.
On the other hand, the Gomadare salad starter I ordered was quite underwhelming; the sauce lacked the punch that I was hoping for, which would have brought the other elements of the salad together. The other starter I shared was the ‘tempura’ mix, a dish consisting of two tiger prawn tempura and a selection seasonal vegetables, also covered in deep‐fried batter. The prawns had the right balance of crispiness and meat and range of vegetables was impressive; the dish included asparagus, aubergine, sweet potato, shiitake mushroom and courgette. The vegetable tempura were very tasty, especially the sweet potato ‐ I would definitely recommend them for any vegetarian visiting the restaurant.
Although I didn’t try any of the hot mains, they did make my mouth water just scanning them on the menu; you can choose from stir fried noodles (with either chicken, prawn or vegetables and tofu), noodle soup (udon noodles with either king prawn or vegetable tempura) and rice dishes (such as katsudon, pork katsu curry or, for vegetarians, tofu teriyaki and aubergine curry), which are accompanied with miso soup. The prices for these mains range from £9 to £13 ‐ unless you opt for the Makunouchi Bento Box priced at £24.95 ‐, which seems decent for a main dish as I expect the portions are quite substantial.
Now, onto the sushi ‐ don’t think I’d forgotten about it. The second page of the menu is dedicated to sushi, broken up into sashimi, nigiri sushi, temaki sushi (handrolls), hosomaki rolls (small rolls, 6 pieces) and futomaki rolls (large rolls, 8 pieces). If you love sushi as much as me, you’ll understand the struggle of ordering when you see the menu. Although the prices are quite steep, it was obvious that all the sushi was made to order and only the freshest ingredients had been used. The sushi menu offers classic fillings/toppings such as salmon, cucumber, king prawn tempura and avocado but also gives you a chance of trying sweet potato tempura, soft shell crab tempura, raw squid, octopus, pickled mackerel and even kanpyo (sweet calabash).
The salmon nigiri I tried tasted extremely fresh and the salmon was sliced to a perfect thickness. The highlight of the sushi menu has to be the futomaki rolls, though; I was so impressed at the inventiveness of these dishes. My friend and I opted for the chicken teriyaki chicken and dragon roll (tiger prawn tempura and avocado, with avocado sliced on top of the rolls as well). The prices for these rolls are around the same as the hot mains ‐ but don’t let that put you off. When they say ‘large 8 pieces’, they mean XXL large. Let me tell you, I had never struggled so hard to finish such delicious sushi rolls. The chicken teriyaki tasted amazing and so did the prawn tempura, although I thought there was too much rice and avocado in the dragon roll which hid the flavour of the prawn. Despite this small fault, the sushi overload made miso happy.
The restaurant offers some desserts too, such as matcha (green tea) tiramisu and mochi ice‐ cream, amongst others. The tiramisu tasted just as I’d hoped; the green tea flavour comes through mildly, the tiramisu itself doesn’t have too much alcohol in it and it wasn’t too creamy. All in all, the food and service was immaculate and I haven’t stopped raving about it since I visited. As an endnote, I’m also soy sorry about the bad jokes in this article. But I really did enjoy my meal at Harajuku Kitchen so matcha.
Featured Image: Neil Hanna
Images in Article: Marie Pan