Situated on Gillespie Place, just off the Meadows in Bruntsfield, Harajuku Kitchen is a small, authentic restaurant which aims to provide Edinburgh with entirely traditional Japanese cuisine. Harajuku Kitchen prides itself on the history of its traditional Japanese cuisine, serving dishes from recipes that have been passed down through three generations. The chef-patron, Kaori Simpson, is the third generation of restaurateurs in her family, having previously worked for the Michelin starred restaurant – The Kitchin – before going on to open up her own Japanese restaurant and street food stalls in Edinburgh.
The menu really does spoil you for choice with the sheer number of dishes on offer. Harajuku Kitchen offers a wide range of Japanese cuisine; from gyoza dumplings, tempura dishes, noodles, sushi rolls and sashimi, there is truly something for everyone. The restaurant is located a short walk away from the King’s Theatre, so if you are really wanting to treat yourself one evening, head over for their tailor-made pre-theatre menu. They also offer a set lunch menu, including a main course, miso soup and rice, all of which you can get for under 10 pounds! Furthermore, to really max out on your student budget, Harajuku Kitchen offers certain societies associated with the University of Edinburgh a student discount; so, if you are part of any such society, it may be worth checking to see if you could jump on this opportunity.
To start, we decided to treat ourselves to a typical Japanese beer and, being an avid Friends fan, I couldn’t miss out on the opportunity to taste ‘Ichiban’ – fortunately the tag line for this beer was not ‘Lipstick for men’ and we were not served two bright blue lipsticks – but instead a rather light and refreshing lager, matching very well with our feast. If you really want to immerse yourself in the Japanese culture, the restaurant also serves saké, which is a traditional Japanese rice wine – incredibly heavy on the alcohol content so my advice would be to pace yourself when drinking it.
For my starter, I opted for the pork gyoza dumplings, which were probably the best dumplings that I have ever had (not that I am professing to be an expert in Japanese food). There is also a vegetarian option so that all of the herbivores out there don’t have to miss out on this sumptuous treat! My date, on the other hand, went for the sunomono moriawase – which is, for all of you whom aren’t well versed in Japanese, a selection of assorted seafood dressed with a sweet vinegar sauce. For our mains, we decided to share two plates of the large sushi rolls. These plates come with eight pieces of sushi and, if you’re someone like me who was slightly apprehensive as to whether sushi would actually fill me up, all my worries about being left hungry were put to bed – nearly to the point where I wished I had not worn jeans.
We had a combination of spicy tuna rolls and gourmet futomaki rolls, which contained crabstick, omelette, prawn kanpyo, green vegetables and tempura pieces; whilst both were incredibly delicious, the latter were definitely our favourite.
*top tip: practice your chopstick skills if you are planning to take someone on a date here – I definitely could not have looked more inelegant whilst wolfing down these sumptuous sushi rolls*
If you can’t quite make it as far as Bruntsfield for your Japanese foodie fix (but you should), Harajuku Kitchen also have street food stalls every Sunday in Stockbridge and every first and third Saturday of the month in the Grassmarket.