The Wordrobe’s Editor Sophie Ritchie heads to the Scottish streets of Edinbrugh for a taste of Harajuku Kitchen’s Japanese dishes
Edinburgh’s foodie scene continues to impress and improve, with its cobbled city streets lined with eatery after eatery. Upon one of these avenues you’ll find Harajuku Kitchen, a little Japanese restaurant tucked away in Bruntsfield.
From the outset, the little restaurant looks like any other ordinary eatery. Inside, however, awaits a culinary show of authentic Japanese treats.
When I visit on a cold Friday night, hungry older sister in tow, it’s already brimming with guests – there’s hardly a spare seat in sight.
Once we’ve arrived and settled in (after a slight unfortunate hiccup involving a booking misunderstanding and rightly suspicious waitresses) the cozy space provides the perfect cozy escape from the outside cold.
We’re sat by the window (and piping hot radiator) but wooden tables are scattered throughout the restaurant, which is decorated in simple, understated fashion.
There’s nothing overly showy about Harajuku Kitchen – its focus is clearly on delivering good food rather than fancy interiors. I sit back and let the menu do the talking.
Blending traditional family recipes with fresh ingredients and artistic presentation, there’s a little bit of everything mixed in to the pages. The variety of dishes makes a refreshing change from the bog-standard sushi with one or two rice options.
On offer is a range of noodle dishes, tempuras, platters of sashimi, rice bowls, hand-rolls and more. Sushi’s mingled in too of course, but there’s also options for the more adventurous – octopus dough ball, anyone?
I start off with a 7-piece plate of assorted sashimi (£9.85) and share a Rainbow Dragon Roll (£13.95) with my sister, who also adores Japanese cuisine.
Sashimi is like marmite for most people. You either love it or you squeal in disgust. I’m undeniably a fan and the silky fans of differing colours and thick textures makes an excellently light way to begin.
I was fortunate enough to visit Japan last year and since returning, UK sashimi has lost its previous glow – the bland options can’t quite compete with Japan’s circus of sashimi. The freshness of the fish however, takes me right back to the bites eaten in backstreet Japanese cafes.
The sushi roll is also good, with a striped colour combination and firm slices of sushi, mingled with cucumber and ripe avocado. It’s very simple but the quality is excellent – the rice just sticky enough without falling apart in my mouth. Whilst the fish was fresh, it lacked any ‘wow’ factor in flavour.
For my main, I steer away from pescatarian options and try the Aubergine Curry (£10.95) which on the menu proclaims to be award-winning and thus tempts my appetite.
Served in a pretty golden ceramic bowl, it’s a mix of super soft tempura aubergine with sweet, Japanese curry sauce.
The hot bowl is the perfect way to ward off the cold outside, although it’s very indulgent – I’d avoid having a large starter beforehand as the thick sauce is rich enough without having a stomach full of appetisers.
Topped with thin carrot ribbons and a mound of rice, the vegan curry makes a great winter warmer.
For dessert, we order a duo between us, the Mochi (£4.80) and Dorayaki (£4.80). The former, a delicate sticky rice cake, comes filled with creamy ice cream – but it’s the Dorayaki, a golden honey pancake brimming with green tea custard filling that steals the show.
Sliced into segments, the delicate pastry leaves me forgetting how full I am and clashing spoons with my sister across the table instead.
The Wordrobe verdict
Simple and unpretentious, Harajuku Kitchen is a great choice for anyone looking to try authentic Japanese without boarding the plane to Osaka. Expect friendly service, filling dishes and a feel-good foodie experience.
Make it happen
Where: 10 Gillespie Pl, Edinburgh EH10 4HS
Bookings: Please visit harajukukitchen.co.uk or phone 0131 281 0526 to make a booking.