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Harajuku Kitchen - "My heart belongs to umami!" (Heston Blumenthal)
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Harajuku Kitchen
10 Gillespie Place
0131 281 05 26
Mon-Fri 12 noon- 3pm, 5pm-10pm; Sat & Sun 12 noon-11pm
Catering / private functions available 24/7

 Harajuku Kitchen is a neighbourhood bistro run by award-winning chef Kaori Simpson. 

Authentic Japanese cuisine is served here based on family recipes passed down to Kaori by her grandparents. When I arrive I note the many Japanese folk dipping at their food with chopsticks; always a good sign. 
 
Expertly conceived and crafted, sushi is a tasty art form but there is more to this Asian cuisine. So I invited fellow foody Kerry to join me for dinner. Kerry is allergic to fish and seafood so I was keen to see if she would rate Harajuku as highly as a fish lover like me does.

Pork Gyoza Dumplings were her starter of choice made from free-range Scottish pork and served with a chilli soy sauce. She described them as being ‘a firm favourite, which have queues around the block at the Stockbridge Market’ and she called this evening’s offerings ‘little dumplings of pure pleasure that oozed flavour’.

Cucumber Kimchi on the side was refreshing and piquant. Fermentation is a great way to preserve veg and it also has the bonus of producing umami; the taste receptor discovered by chemistry professor, Kikunae Ikeda at Tokyo University 1908. 

The kimchis was from the daily specials board as was my scallops, presented in their natural shell and sweetly caramelised. I demolished them as swiftly as the swipe of a Geisha’s fan. 

I ordered the ‘Californian’ Futomaki Roll with pink salmon and creamy jade avocado for my main and a coating of day-glo green fish roe sparkled and popped in my mouth like old fashioned space dust.

Kerry had some pure comfort food in the shape of Tonkatsu Curry, panko breaded free-range chicken breast served with rice and miso soup.  She gave the miso a swerve but described the chicken as just perfect.

We both had the chef's special of fried bao bun. Served with coconut sorbet for Kerry she thought it ‘delicious but just a tad too naughty after curry’ so she left half the bun, but ‘did justice to the coconut sorbet’, which was ‘very refreshing and palate- cleansing’. My bun came with green tea ice cream and I had no issue shamelessly polishing off the lot. 

Harajuku has one AA Rosette from Michelin but is very reasonably priced and I concluded from our visit that is can indeed be recommended for sushi lovers and meat eaters alike. (S. Wilson)

 

 




























An imminent trip to France with its fabulous regional cooking but a rarity of other cuisines had me keen to go global while we could. With this excuse I enticed Mr Fussy, who has long been a Japanese-food-avoider, to sample this peaceful retreat on a busy main road.

Luckily owner/chef Kaori Simpson hails from a dynasty of Japanese restaurants since the time of her Samurai grandfather, with the experience to produce many of the varied types of Japanese cuisine & AA rosettes to prove it, so we decided to pick & choose rather than just going for the 2 course special available for lunch & pre-theatre at £12.95.

We accompanied our lunch with Japanese Kimanu lemonade – a novelty to try this colourful bottle but, containing a high percent of corn syrup, more like an American cream soda. Much more to our taste was Bon Accord rhubarb & apple juice, made in Edinburgh with all-natural goodies such as home-made rhubarb syrup & coconut nectar and red in colour from natural anthocyanins. Very pleasant with a fruity flavour and clean finish, not clashing at all with the gentleness of our ‘bottomless’ Gennmai green tea.

The Agenasu Kuomi Dare (£5.95) had warm, meltingly soft, sweet cubes of aubergine with tasty scraps of tempura batter providing texture in a chilli, honey & garlic sauce. Mr Fussy enjoyed his tuna takaki (carpaccio) which had been rolled in sesame seeds & barely seared, served on pickled carrots & rice noodles (£5.50)

We also enjoyed traditional gourmet futomaki, nori seaweed rolls containing a little bit of everything, including fine strips of sweet egg omelette, king prawn, calabash, salmon & crunchy cucumber. At £12.45, like our soft shell spider crab rolls coated in mixed sesame seeds, these came with a gratifyingly generous amount of pale, pickled ginger plus a dollop of flower strewn wasabi that wasn’t too hot for my dining partner.

 A minor disappointment was that the sweet potato tempura, rather than battered & fried puree as I expected, were rather undercooked slices that would have been sweeter had they been cooked softer. However we chose to share Apple Gyoza (dumplings) with green tea ice-cream and the delicate ice-cream was delightful, pairing well with cold & crispy crimped pastry shells, bursting with fine, deliciously sweet apple filling. (The Go-Between)





 

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