Itâ€™s hard to say which is best: the quirky interior of new Stockbridge restaurant Umi, the incredibly friendly and down-to-earth staff, or the exquisite Japanese food.
With the trend for street food still holding strong, Umi have transformed a basement into an outside-in Japanese eaterie, complete with little red lanterns welcoming you down the steep stairs, and a picture wall of an actual street.
The tables are set up to be just like eating outside â€“ there are even traditional horigotatsu tables, low to the ground with a recess for stretching out legs underneath, and sliding doors offering some privacy.Â Itâ€™s very quaint, and different to any restaurant Iâ€™ve been in. The set up creates a great atmosphere and buzz of diners chatting, without being overwhelmingly loud.
Food-wise, ramen features strongly (believed to bring joy to a dinerâ€™s day), however my dining partner and I plumped for a wide selection of other items from the menu, sharing and dipping morsels of food with much â€œahhhâ€-ing and â€œyummâ€-ing.
Karage Fried Chicken with lemon and mayo was extremely more-ish, whilst Aubergine Goma in a sweet miso sauce was delectable. A vegetarian dish of Truffle Edamame â€“ steamed green soya beans topped with sea salt and truffle oil, grew on us with every bite, and the grilled Teryaki Salmon Sushi was as good as any Iâ€™ve tasted.
The only disappointment was the prawn tempura, which was slightly bland, even when doused in soya sauce. Interestingly, it was the most expensive item of the five that we chose.
In terms of value for money, Umi is superb. After ordering five dishes â€œto see how we goâ€, we were full, and so opted for a delicious plum wine instead of dessert. Incredibly, the food came to under Â£30. Now, for Edinburgh, thatâ€™s a steal.
Umi opened earlier this year, and if my experience is anything to go by, this will be a popular place, even tempting people away from other parts of the city, for a stroll down Stockbridge.
It may even pick up the mantel of its sister restaurant in Bread Street, Bentoya, whose star is on the wane, if recent reports are to be believed.
I think Umiâ€™s place in the restaurant scene on the rise. Check it out before it gets too popular.
Meal for two, without drinks: Â£28.70
Umi Japanese Cuisine, 24-18 Deanhaugh Street, Stockbridge, Edinburgh, EH4 1LY
Tel. 0131 343 6991.