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Kukina - Levant in Leith
New Review
235-237 Leith Walk,
Open 7 days 10am – 10pm (last serving 9.30pm)

An exciting new Turkish restaurant has opened on Leith Walk.

Kukina has a cosy feel which suits the Scottish climate. Hipster meets the Middle East with green walls, wood-burning stove, books, copper touches and lanterns. Although adding scarlet and green cheer I was perplexed by the 'holly-like' decorations on the left wall as you enter. Turns out it’s Butcher’s Broom or ‘Kukina’ a Turkish plant with ‘magical properties’. Ah – that explains it.  

The menu revolves around gözlem. Imported Turkish flour, water and salt are kneaded industriously in the open kitchen and comprise the sole ingredients of the street-food pancakes; the dough is next rolled  into large discs by female cooks who sit in the window displaying their traditional food-craft. It’s inviting and an ingeniously simple way to advertise.

Tracy and I shared the gözlem meal for two people for lunch, two gözlem  and four Meze with bread. Flatbreads were well-fired, snappy and presented on a board with four dips; chopped fruity beetroot in a yoghurt, mayo and garlic dip, tzatziki and roasted aubergine dip with onion, garlic and sweet peppers. Unfortunately the fourth wasn't available, but we were happy to double up on beets.

I was a little disappointed with my Lahmacun gözlem which arrived next as the lamb was a lightly spread and I felt the need for more meat to balance out the dough. Tracy seemed to enjoy her feta and spinach version demolishing it with gusto. I am told all ingredients come from a Turkish importer and are organic.

Our waiter was friendly and helpful and said that Kukina’s baklava was ‘the best’. I told him that I had recently enjoyed some seriously impressively baklava at Baba on George St, so the ‘stakes were high’.  Un-phased he proudly presented dessert, and it was excellent; crisp, delicate layers of filo drenched in honey and orange blossom water plus fresh cream on the side.  He usually adds some vanilla paste to the cream though that wasn’t to hand on this occasion. A pot of mint tea poured from a copper pot was a refreshing finale. 

So, all in all, I find myself yearning to return to Kukina.  From 5 pm the menu extends to include Turkish sausage, falafel, halloumi, vine leaves, extra ‘sweet things’ and more.  I also want to try their Turkish coffee.

A laid back eatery which I suspect will start to get lively in the evenings as it grows in popularity. (S. Wilson) 

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