Assorted Sashimi Salad - Kanpai

Kanpai

19th September 2017 12.30pm

www.kanpaisushiedinburgh.co.uk

A friend (who also happens to be a colleague) and I went for an impromptu lunch at Kanpai and it turned out to be a serene location for a lunchtime treat. Decorated in muted hues and delicate features, Kanpai has a hint of both modern and traditional. There were plenty of different options on the menu without being over-faced with choice. In the end, I chose the tuna maki and the assorted sashimi salad. My dining companion opted for the crowned tuna tartare and the king prawn tempura.

The dishes come out when they are ready and the first two dishes to arrive where the crowned tuna tartare and the tuna maki. There was a delightful little pot on the table to pour your soy sauce from. It’s little touches like these that indicated there was a high level of attention to detail. After the soy was poured, I got stuck into my tuna maki. I had to do all I could to refrain myself from devouring the whole lot in quick succession. This maki was seriously good. You could tell that the fish was of good quality and the sushi rice was simply perfect. I tried to let each flavour melt on my tongue before swallowing the food. I was a very happy bunny. On the other side of the table, my friend was making equally delighted noises over her crowned tuna tartare. This was a beautifully presented dish. The tuna was topped with breadcrumbs, to provide some extra texture, and the whole thing sat on top of a bed of rice. Thumbs up all round.

As we were tucking into those dishes, the tempura and the assorted sashimi salad arrived. The salad was vibrant with pieces of avocado scattered across the top, along with a single prawn. The main ingredients of the salad were salmon, tuna and squid. Daikon, cucumber and spring onions could be found at the bottom. It also came with its own dressing which you could pour over to meet your own preferences. This was fresh and dazzling. It seemed to last for ages too, which felt like a bonus. I can’t recommend this enough. The tempura was also good, being light and flavoursome. It was served in a lovely basket. However, my friend commented that she would have liked some chilli in her tempura. That being said, it was clear that fish was where the speciality lies in Kanpai.

We both really enjoyed our time at Kanpai and can’t wait to go back again. The only downside, as is always the way with sushi, it’s not a particularly cheap option. However, Kanpai offers the quality which makes the price tag seem deserved.

Food – 9/10
Service – 9/10
Atmosphere – 9/10
Value – 8/10

Overall – 35/40

Would I eat here again? Regularly!

Cost £34 for four plates of food plus two diet cokes

Salmon Set - Tang's

Tang’s

30th May 2017 12.45pm

www.hakatayauk.com/tang-s-japanese-dining/

Tang’s can be found on Candlemaker Row, in the shadow of Greyfriars Bobby. A friend suggested meeting here for an impromptu lunch. I arrived first but stood waiting for a member of staff for getting on for 5 minutes. As it transpired, there seemed to be only one member of waiting staff and she had been serving some other customers on the upper floor (and was rushed off her feet the entire time we were there). My friend arrived just in time and we were seated on the ground floor. We had a look at the menus and both decided to order from the lunchtime menu. I went for the salmon set – a salmon sushi platter. My dining companion chose the chicken katsu curry.

Salmon Set - Tang's

Salmon Set – Tang’s

Whilst our server had been very busy, we didn’t have to wait too long for our food to arrive. My sushi was on a nice wooden serving stand. It looked very pretty, comprising of sashimi, nigiri and maki, with a small pile of ginger, wasabi, and a token bit of salad with a couple of slices of radish. I went for maki first and was surprised to find it was warm. The rice obviously hadn’t been cooled enough before rolling. This didn’t make it unpleasant though and worked quite well dipped into the soy. The nigiri was the same, with slightly warm rice, although as it was more exposed it was a bit cooler. The sashimi however was ice cold in one place on each slice, almost as if it had been frozen and hadn’t fully defrosted, which was a shame as it really did take any flavour out of the salmon. On the other side of the table, the katsu curry was a large portion. Which made it decent value for money. However, my friend felt the dish was OK but nothing more, and had experienced better elsewhere.

Chicken Katsu Curry - Tang's

Chicken Katsu Curry – Tang’s

We also found whilst we were eating that across from us, some tradesmen were working on fixing something, causing an awful noise as we finished our food. Whilst I know broken items need fixing, perhaps avoiding the lunch rush would have been better. All in all, a bit of a disappointing visit.

Food – 6/10
Service – 6/10
Atmosphere – 5/10
Value – 7/10

Overall – 24/40

Would I eat here again? Unlikely

Cost £22 for a salmon set, chicken katsu curry and two diet cokes

Harajuku Kitchen

22nd November 2015 1.30pm

http://harajukukitchen.co.uk/

I was invited along by Emma from Edinbug, who had in turn had been invited by the PR company for Harajuku Kitchen. This Japanese bistro had been on my list for a little while so I jumped at the opportunity to be her plus one. Harajuku Kitchen is situated in Bruntsfield, in a small corner position. We were welcomed warmly and given a choice of tables. The waitress was particularly concerned we didn’t have the sun shining in our eyes and adjusted the blinds for us, which made it all the better for ogling the menu. There was so much to choose from and I could pretty much devour the whole menu (which will become apparent that I actually tried to do). I decided to make the most of the set sushi platter and then a set main of tonkatsu curry. Emma went for a selection of sushi and dumplings and we both had Japanese lemonade. The waitress suggested having some as a starter and some as a main which we thought was a great idea and very good of her to suggest. Emma busied herself by taking lots of amazing photos (see her review here), so I took a moment to take in the setting. The bistro was relatively busy for a Sunday lunchtime and had a mix of old and young, some who were nipping in for a quick bite and others having a more leisurely Sunday lunch. The dining area is modern, with simple, clean lines. Japanese murals and paraphernalia adorn the room. I also had a taste of the Japanese lemonade, which was refreshing albeit a little too sugary compared with my usual preferences.

Harajuku Kitchen

Harajuku Kitchen

Once Emma was settled, the vegetarian gyoza dumplings arrived. They smelt phenomenal and I was more than a little jealous and whilst Emma offered to share, I really had to show some sort of restraint! Emma initially thought they had meat in (she wanted vegetarian) but upon further inspection it was veggie but they just had a meaty texture. At least this meant the vegetarian food was offering something substantial. Then our first set of sushi came out. There was beautiful plating of both dishes, although that didn’t stop us from diving in. The platter had a mix of 4 salmon futomaki, 6 tuna hosomaki and a couple of mixed nigiri. This was very generous for the price and the fish good quality. On the side was a portion of wasabi and ginger. The rice stuck together well to make it easy to eat. This was certainly some of the best sushi I have had. There is a vegetarian version of this but it is set at the same price as the fish version, so unless there is more on offer, a veggie might feel a bit miffed about this. On the other side of the table, Emma had tamago nigiri. The omelette was a little large atop the rice and might have been better as four smaller pieces rather than two large. However, she still enjoyed it immensely and took the eating challenge in her stride. The avocado hosomaki rolls were easier to tackle and again, Emma really enjoyed these. It was at this point the waitress offered to take a photo of us, which was nice of her to offer. It became apparent later that she hadn’t realised we were in reviewing and must have assumed we were tourists. This is a testament to the good level of service.

Harajuku Kitchen

Harajuku Kitchen

Onto the ‘mains’. The smell of my tonkatsu curry was amazing. It was served with pickled veg, rice and a side of miso. The miso was very nice and not too salty, which I occasionally find with miso soup. It was a substantial portion of curry and generally it was very good but I did find some of the pork a bit gristly in places . However, this was not enough to stop me eating it as it was quite small. That said, the curry sauce was good and the pickled veg tasty. However, I came unstuck at this point as my eyes were bigger than my stomach and I couldn’t finish. Emma had garden inside out rolls, which she had chosen as a veggie alternative to her beloved California rolls. These were presented beautifully again. The attention to detail is lovely here. Each mouthful was enjoyed more than the last.

Overall Harajuku Kitchen offers an enjoyable experience. The choice is excellent, but make sure you at least try some sushi!

Lots more photos (usually posted within 24 hours of dining) can be found on my Instagram feed here.

Food – 8/10
Service – 9/10
Atmosphere – 8/10
Value – 7/10

Overall – 32/40

Cost – this was complimentary but likely to cost around £50 for two if you order as much as we did!

Please note that whilst this event was complimentary, views expressed are my own. Thanks to Emma from Edinbug for inviting me.

Harajuku Kitchen Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Bonsai

BROUGHTON STREET BRANCH NOW CLOSED

28th August 2015 2pm

www.bonsaibarbistro.co.uk

Bento Box - Bonsai

Bento Box – Bonsai

We randomly chose to go to the Broughton Street branch of Bonsai on the spur of the moment as my friend had just got off the train from Manchester and this place is just round the corner from where I live. I had heard mixed things about Bonsai but we decided to give it a shot.

The restaurant was decorated in relatively traditional colours of black, red and white. We were given a table at the window and provided menus. There was lots of choice on the menu, including beef tataki, which is often missed off Japanese menus but I really enjoy. Saying that, we saw a deal for the bento box for £9.90 which seemed good value so we opted for that. You picked a main dish, a sushi dish and rice or noodles. I went for salmon teriyaki and tuna nigiri and rice in mine. My friend went for tofu and avocado and red pepper maki and rice.

Another bento box - Bonsai

Another bento box – Bonsai

Miso soup was presented with the bento box. I often dislike miso as it can be a bit too salty for my palate but this was absolutely lovely. The spring onions gave it a nice lift. Unusually, I finished off the lot. Onto the bento box itself, the teriyaki salmon was lovely and sticky. This was a generous portion of salmon. The tuna in the nigiri was good and rice held well for soy sauce dunking. I could have eaten many more of those (yeah I know – greedy). The rice was as expected and nothing really to report. The accompanying salad was a bit underwhelming and felt a bit limp. My friend had the same opinion of the salad. He enjoyed his tofu and maki rolls and thought they were decent.

I would come here again for a quick lunch or dinner. Whilst the food did not blow me away, it was solid and did the job.

Food – 7/10
Service – 7/10
Atmosphere – 7/10
Value – 9/10

Overall – 30/40

Cost £25 for two bento boxes, a beer and a diet coke.

Click to add a blog post for Bonsai on Zomato

Bentoya

1st July 2015 6.45pm

www.bentoya-edinburgh.com

I had been hearing good things about Bentoya and when a friend suggested going after giving blood, I jumped at the chance. Easily accessed from Lothian Road, Bentoya is a small restaurant with a lighter front section and a darker back section with twinkly coloured lights in the ceiling. We were seated quickly and started to scan the menu. There was certainly plenty that was catching my eye, so much so it was making it difficult to choose. In the end we went for a sushi platter to share as a starter and then I went for sizzling teriyaki salmon, which automatically came with rice and my friend went for chicken katsu curry rice. We weren’t able to drink but it is worth noting that the restaurant has a free BYOB policy for one bottle of wine between two people. We stuck to soft drinks, which were served in jam jars with handles, which didn’t quite fit with the rest of the restaurant.

Sushi - Bentoya

Sushi – Bentoya

Without having to explain, it was understood that we would be sharing the sushi platter as a starter and were brought a plate and a soy sauce bowl each. The platter was beautifully presented in a lovely high sided serving plate. It had a mix of rolls and nigiri and a small pile of wasabi and pickled ginger. Each piece was absolutely delicious and would be extremely good value to eat for one person as a light main. The pieces didn’t collapse on picking up or eating, as often happens in Yo Sushi, which made them so much easier to eat and enjoy.

Salmon and chicken - Bentoya

Salmon and chicken – Bentoya

After a little wait our mains arrived. Mine came sizzling in its dish as promised. A little side bowl of rice was also provided. The salmon was plentiful although felt a little chucked onto the plate. It was accompanied with beansprouts, carrots and beans. The salmon was soft and not dry. Sadly though the teriyaki flavour was a bit lacking for me. It hadn’t permeated the salmon much and seemed a bit watery across the dish. The vegetables were nice though and the rice was well cooked. On the other side of the table, the katsu curry rice came in a humungous bowl. My friend was a bit over-faced with it. The carrots that accompanied the dish were simply too big to eat, particularly with chopsticks. Again the meat was fine but the sauce lacked flavour and was a little too thin. There was far too much rice and she couldn’t finish her portion.

Whilst the restaurant had got busier since we arrived, it took over 20 minutes for us to be able to ask for the bill and even then we had to get someone’s attention and the table wasn’t cleared. So overall, I think if I headed back to Bentoya it would only be for the sushi and I’d only go if I was not in a hurry.

Food – 7/10

Service – 6/10

Atmosphere – 8/10

Value – 9/10

Overall – 30/40

Cost – £27 for a platter and two mains and two drinks