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Hula Juice Bar & Cafe, Edinburgh, restaurant review

Getting your greens doesn't feel like punishment at Edinburgh's new branch of Hula, says Gaby Soutar

Published: June 21, 2019

When you have zero hip action, hula-hooping is tricky.

I know this, since I recently tried the fitness experience that is Powerhoop.

As the others in my class shimmied happily, with the hoop whipping around their torsos, I spent the whole time angrily picking the weighted ring off the floor. It was like a worm trying to wear a belt.

Anyway, as long as I stuff my face as a work and leisure activity, I’ll try different regimes to postpone my slide into butterball status.

Perhaps I can skip this week’s session, since I’ve been to the new branch of Hula.

They opened their original venue in the Grassmarket about 12 years ago – way ahead of the current healthy eating wave.

Ironically, their new Fountainbridge place takes over the slot of Burger, which survived for five years, serving kimchi dogs and chilli cheese fries.

When it opened, there was still the weed-riddled bingo hall – formerly the Palais de Danse, where Sean Connery worked – across the road. Now there are student flats.

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Hula’s brand of food, is, I suppose, flexitarian. The vegan and vegetarian options are more than an afterthought, but there are animal products on the menu too.

Like their original branch, it smells of freshly pulped oranges.

There are about 20 varieties of smoothie, and you can add boosters, like Energy or Hangover Cure & Detox, for 85p a punt.

If there had been Ability to Fly or X-Ray Vision, I might have gone for it, but instead I enjoyed the fruity rehabilitation of a fluffy pink Betty Ford (£3.95) with strawberry, peach, banana and apple.

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In tribute to my Olive Oyl-like figure, we also tried the Popeye (£3.95) – a zingy blend of spinach, apple, lemon and a grind of nutmeg.

The menu features the prerequisite avo smash, but lots more too. We tried their take on the Hawaiian dish, poke (£7.95), usually made with raw fish.

This had coils of smoked salmon, dusted with carmine-coloured togarashi spice and alongside bunting-like spiralized cucumber, edamame beans, raw kale, radish petals and pea shoots.

Although the chilled rice underneath was a bit waxy, its dressing of sesame, ginger, lime, mirin and garlic was a robust Japanese-influenced flavour injection.

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I am yet to be convinced by jackfruit, often used as a pulled pork substitute, but with a texture that reminds me of wet phonebook.

They nearly won me over with the teriyaki jackfruit and kimchi bowl (£8.25), which came with the same carb accompaniment as the poke dish. However, it wasn’t the salty fruit that swung it, but the crunchy and vinegary spiced cabbage element.

We all loved the comfort eating kudos of the peanut chicken and crushed potato bowl (£8.25), with creamy and satay-ish mashed poultry topped by crushed peanuts and sesame seeds, and more cucumber, squished potatoes and slaw on the side.

When it came to our last main of coconut bacon and kale caesar salad (£6.95), was a comma missing? Nope, this consisted of shredded coconut that was salty and smokey with spices.

I would like a jumbo bag of these tiny chips to eat in front of the telly.

Cakes are at the counter. Our favourite was the snickerdoodle (£3.65) – a take on a Snickers bar, made by Glaswegian raw vegan dessert business Rawnchy, with a biscuit base, caramel clad peanuts and a crazy paving lid of chocolate.

Extremely photogenic, but I didn’t Instagram it, since that social media platform is already littered with appreciative pics of Hula’s wares.

They were fans of this place first and, thus, their hip credentials are way better than mine (and not in a hula-hooping sense).

Hula Juice Bar & Cafe, Edinburgh

94a Fountainbridge, 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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