A lot of people don’t know this but there was a time I used to be obsessed with everything Japan. I even spent two years at university learning Japanese, which by the way is a very very difficult language to master. What really introduced me to Japan and its wonderful culture was actually the food – I have been obsessed with Japanese food for as long as I can remember. Sushi/Sashimi is a permanent fixture on my diet and I spend more than any sane man (with a limited budget) should on this Japanese delicacy. The point I am trying to make is that I love my Japanese restaurants and get really excited when there is a new one for me try out.
I was in Edinburgh recently for a piece I was writing in collaboration for Travelodge (post here) and I wanted to try out the local dining scene. I took to Twitter (as you do) and a lot of people suggested I go try out this relatively new Japanese bistro called Harajuku Kitchen in Old Town. I didn’t need to be told twice! I called up, booked a table and was there for lunch by 1 pm; ready to sample the ‘authentic flavour of Japan with a touch of style from Tokyo‘.
The beautifully simplistic styling of the Harajuku Kitchen sets the scene for the food perfectly. It’s light, airy and the well designed furniture all add to the ambience of this restaurant. I must admit it’s not the biggest of bistros but I really like what they have done with the limited space. I especially love the Japanese inspired pop art on the walls and the collection of books on the window sills that diners can browse through as they wait for their food.
Top marks to our wonderful waitress who very confidently talked Seb and I through the menu and even convinced me to try the Calpis Water; a yoghurt based drink with a bit of sparkling water. It was like nothing I have ever tried before but I really liked it. Refreshing and light, our waitress got it spot on. Seb ordered the Garden Green Tea which at Harajuku Kitchen came with rosebuds, strawberry, raspberry and vanilla. Again beautifully presented in stylistic yet simple tea pot, the green tea smelt wonderful. It was one of those drinks that can lift up your spirits with just one whiff and it didn’t taste too bad either.
We weren’t really that hungry so Seb and I decided to share three dishes between us. My favourite had to be the Takoyaki, which are dough balls stuffed with octopus and cabbage served in a Katsu sauce with a bit of mayonnaise on the side. Not the most sophisticated of dishes but tasted great – these three balls definitely packed a punch and were an explosion of flavours. The very different textures and flavours all worked extremely well together (even the mayonnaise).
The sign of any good Japanese restaurants is always the sushi it serves up and Harajuku Kitchen has options galore. We wanted to try a bit of everything so ordered the Mix Sushi Set Special which came with two nigiri, four futomaki and six hosomaki. The salmon and tuna nigiri were spot on and the fish was of good quality – you can always make out the difference. The futomaki and the hosomaki were not too bad either. The word ‘futomaki‘ in Japanese roughly translates to ‘fat roll’ and the ones at Harajuku Kitchen were absolutely huge. Not that I was complaining.
We also ordered the Pork Goyza Dumplings which came stuffed with minced pork (Scottish outdoor reared, just incase you were wondering), lettuce and nira (garlic chives) with a side of vinegar soy and chilli oil. Not a bad dish at all – I love that fact that these dumplings were crisp on one side and soft on the other. It really made this dish interesting and that vinegar soy and chilli oil sauce was absolutely delish. Again nothing too fancy but simple flavours that just work really well together. If you love your dumplings you are bound to love this dish. Highly recommend.
I throughly enjoyed dining at this beautiful little Japanese bistro. The service was attentive and friendly without being overbearing; the atmosphere and the ambience were spot on for what’s being dished up; and most importantly the Japanese food was faultless. Add to that, the fact a meal at Harajuku Kitchen is not going to burn a hole in your pocket (our meal cost us less than £30 for two people) and you are on to a winner. Harajuku Kitchen has as an air of understated confidence about it and I cannot wait to come back.