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April 10, 2020

Harajuku Kitchen, Edinburgh, restaurant delivery review

A delighted Gaby Soutar tries out delivery from Edinburgh's Harajuku Kitchen and is far from disappointed by the transition to takeaway.

‘It’s Kaori! I can see her!”

She comes up our path with a paper bag full of food, rings the doorbell and hands the swag over to my husband.

As I have met the owner of six-year-old Harajuku Kitchen – one of Edinburgh’s favourite Japanese restaurants – a few times before, I remain appropriately incognito.

This involves crawling away from the window and lurking in a hall cupboard until she’s gone away.

I hear her apologising for being late. It’s 6:33pm and they said they’d deliver at 6:30pm. So professional, so punctual.

It’s impressive how many restaurateurs have responded, under the new coronavirus regime, by swiftly designing and launching takeaway services to help keep themselves afloat.

This popular place was one of the first to offer deliveries if you contacted them directly, currently Wednesday to Sunday for households within a five mile radius of the restaurant.

As my house elf does the cooking, I never usually get takeaways. However, I do believe that food tastes 34 per cent better when you’re in your pyjamas, even if I would rather be in Harajuku Kitchen’s bright Bruntsfield restaurant than my dingy living room (where recently, we have encountered an unwelcome mousey visitor, who I have named Robert Crumb).

Before the ritual de-lidding, we spread the collection of tubs and brown boxes on the floor, pile up some plates and guddle for chopsticks that have wedged at the back of the kitchen drawer.

The aubergine curry sauce needs a bit of a nuke, so we concentrate on the cold stuff first.

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Our tuna tataki (£6.95), which comes with a pot of ponzu and ginger sauce, looks so pretty. There are pink slices of shell pink fish, fanned out in their box like a deck of cards, with opaque singed edges.

While, the shimesaba nigiri (£4.70) option features two flinty skinned slivers of dense mackerel, each on booster seats of tangy sushi rice.

Our Harajuku Deluxe Futomaki (£13.95) was the best, and not just because there were eight sturdy and palm-sized sushi rolls, squashed together like packets of toilet roll in a warehouse. Each of these contained wakame swaddled nuggets of prawn, strips of sweet squash, salmon, cucumber and spongy tamago.

All of their cold options come with their own sachet of soy, as well as wasabi blobs, one of which I dropped onto my floorboards, and reams of pickled ginger.

Since there are probably worse times to be on a health kick, we also tried their cold option of a Buddha bowl (£12.80). It was a clever mix of stuff, texture-wise, thanks to a bank of sushi rice topped with slippery edamame beans and draped with a sesame seed-sprinkled kaiso salad, as well as lettuce, avocado slices, a chilli mayo and crispy wontons.

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“Ping”, and the dark brown sauce, dotted with pickled vegetables, for our aubergine curry (£11.95) was ready. This option won Harajuku Kitchen the Best Asian Curry Award at the Asian Curry Awards in 2018.

There was easily enough for two people and it included miso soup and rice (we had ordered extra, £2.75, before realising that this was included, oops). We poured the liquid over the box of rice, finely shredded vegetables and tempura gilded aubergine. The combo was sweet and warming, for just a light buzz at the hollow of your throat.

After I’ve done all the washing up (even though it was his turn), we eat the sponge cake with green tea filling that is dorayaki (£4.80) with a cup of tea.

Then we pack up our leftovers.

There’s enough in the fridge for a cheering lockdown lunch tomorrow, and persumably a few crumbs on the floor for Robert (hopefully he has a nibble of that wasabi and is frightened off permanently).

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Harajuku Kitchen Delivery, Edinburgh

10 Gillespie Place Edinburgh, (0131-281 0526, www.harajukukitchen.co.uk)

In the kitchen: Kaori Simpson of Harajuku Kitchen, Edinburgh

Gaby Soutar is a lifestyle editor at The Scotsman. She has been reviewing restaurants for The Scotsman Magazine since 2007 and edits the weekly food pages.
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