Scotsman Review
Our criteria 
  • Ambience - It's important that a restaurant is inviting. We rate the decor, comfort and atmosphere.
  • Drink - Is the wine or cocktail list as exciting as the food, or does it fall short? Same goes for soft drinks. 
  • Food - We judge dishes on flavour, but also use of produce, cooking skill and presentation
  • Service - The staff and pace of a meal can make or break a meal out.
  • Value - From the food on the plate to service and surroundings, we check that you get what you're paying for.
December 18, 2015

Harajuku Kitchen, Edinburgh, restaurant review

Harajuku Kitchen serves up top notch Japanese food with oodles of style, finds Lizzy Buchan.

What on earth is an octopus doughball?

I’m pretty adventurous when it comes to sushi but I was perplexed by this question when I met a similarly sushi-obsessed friend for a weekend lunch at Harajuku Kitchen, in Tollcross.

The Saturday had dawned cold and drizzly and a small part of me wished I was off to dig into a warming stew or a meaty pie.

However that went out the window pretty quickly as the food at Harajuku Kitchen is good enough to draw the crowds, whatever the weather.

A relative newcomer on the city’s burgeoning sushi scene, I soon realised there is more to this stylish bistro than California rolls.

We were ushered to a seat by the window to watch the world go by and I ordered a green tea with a hint of toasted brown rice (£1.90) and my friend had Jasmine Tea (£2.95), which warmed us up and kept on coming throughout the meal.

We immediately chose a plate of pork gyoza dumplings (£5.95) after bountiful praise from friends who had tried the dish at the restaurant’s pop-up stall at Stockbridge market.

Gyoza can be hard to get right as if they are too hot then the filling burns the tongue whereas just a degree too cold can make the outside nauseatingly rubbery.

The Harajuku Kitchen version are among the best I have tasted, with a pliant, crispy wrapper and succulent filling of Scottish-reared pork and lettuce spooling out onto the tongue.

Snacking on a delicious bowl of edamame beans (£3.95), we ummed and ahhed about whether to choose one of the main courses, noodle soups or Japanese salads from the simple but inventive menu.

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However the draw of sushi was too great so we opted for a plate of spicy tuna rolls (£11.95) and a rather bold choice of shimesaba, a type of pickled mackerel nigiri (£4.45).

I knew I had to try the takoyaki, described as dough balls with octopus and cabbage in katsu sauce (£5.95).

The service was swift and soon plates filled out table.

The presentation of each dish was so unutterably lovely that I even relented in my bitter hatred of the food snaps that litter social media to take my own quick picture.

Pink petals were scattered across the tray between the picture-perfect sushi rolls and a dollop of wasabi paste even had a pink carnation sprouting from it.

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Obviously made to order, the pickled mackerel nigiri was sweet and tangy on bed of perfectly crafted sushi rice, while the spicy tuna rolls packed a punch.

The quality of the tuna rolls are my measuring stick for , and these gorgeous mouthfuls more than measure up.

But it is the octopus rolls, nestling in a katsu sauce, that are the star of the show.

These toasty morsels had an intricate design of spice on top and contained perfectly soft octopus and cabbage within their doughy insides.

I wish we had ordered more than one plate as there were only three pieces and we both secretly wanted the last one.
The food is not cheap, but sushi never really is. You probably wouldn’t want it to be.

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Careful thought has clearly gone into the decor, which is traditional but fun with a mural of colourful cartoons on the back wall.
The wooden chairs are a tad uncomfortable but they fit somehow with simple, homely vibe.

My only regret is we had to dash off to complete our Christmas shopping, rather than try the Matcha tiramisu which looked delicious.

Starters - £3.95 to £12.95
Set mains and noodle dishes - £8.95 to £12.95
Sushi dishes - £3.45 to £15.95

There are a number of good-looking vegetarian options, including a tofu teriyaki and an aubergine curry for main courses and some tasty looking sushi choices.

The restaurant is open for lunch Tuesday to Thursday with a special offer of two courses for £12.95 per person, including plum wine or genmai tea.

Harajuku Kitchen, 10 Gillespie Place, Edinburgh.
0131 281 05 26



Lizzy Buchan writes food and travel pieces for The Scotsman titles, when not working as the paper’s Health Correspondent. In between writing about the health benefits of lard or the Mediterranean diet, she is always looking for the latest food trend and the largest glass of wine.
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