Raw like sushi
Japanese food is not for everyone â€“ it helps if you like your fish raw and your rice cold. However, Harajuku Kitchen in Bruntsfield is worth visiting â€“ even if, like me, a Boots Meal Deal sushi box is the closest youâ€™ve had to Japanese food.
Harajuku Kitchen is fun, friendly and seems to have hit a sweet spot in the capitalâ€™s dining scene â€“ at least one couple were turned away the Saturday evening I visited.
Located in one of my favourite parts of town, on Gillespie Place in a former bakery, the restaurant is fresh, airy and contemporary. After a chaotic beginning when we were kept waiting an inordinate amount of time to be seated (unfortunately our booking had not come through), we were kept waiting another 25 minutes for the food to arrive.Â We did receive an apology and I felt for the two members of staff, however it was a disappointing start.
The first two dishes my friend and I chose were already off the menu (it was before 7pm when we ordered), and I was beginning to despair, however we were in adventurous mood (not to mention ravenous) so ordered fish sushi (Eel Nigiri and Salmon Tempura Roll), fried chicken in ginger and soy (Karaage Chicken), and tender pork belly, slow cooked in ginger and soy (Rafute).
Our adventurous streak continued with a small glass of plum wine â€“ delicious syrup â€“ and a Japanese Kirin Ichyban beer. Both good choices and proved better than the green rice tea, which tasted vile: literally as if the water used to boil brown rice had been served in a dainty tea cup! The first cup of my Jasmine tea was perfect, but the second cup was over-stewed by the time I poured it.
Attention to detail definitely shone through in the food. For a start, the presentation was exceptional. Really beautiful looking dishes, crying out for a photo to be taken for social media (whether reviewing it or not). The eel was tastier than I had expected â€“ it had the faint taste of herring â€“ and as I munched through the sushi rolls, I kept thinking how healthy it all was. Blackboard special green tea tiramisu was plentiful and light, but two of us were so full by the end of the meal, we only managed around half of it.
For excellent value for money, and something decidedly different, Harajuku Kitchen ticks the boxes. I just hope that the disorganisation at the start was a one-off and not a regular occurrence, or their sweet spot may turn rapidly sour with diners.
Dishes costs around Â£5-9 and we ordered four dishes between us and shared a desert, and found that was more than enough.
Harajuku Kitchen, 10 Gillespie Place, Edinburgh. Tel 0131 281 0526.