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Bento, Edinburgh, restaurant review - can the Stockbridge sushi chain cure a hangover?

We visit Edinburgh’s newest sushi bar

Published: November 5, 2022
Categories:
Food: 
7/10
Ambience: 
7/10

I’m very rarely hungover.

This week, though, I experienced the first in a couple of years. At my age, the symptoms are concentrated around a state of extreme grumpitude.

On the painfully slow bus to this new restaurant, I complained all the way, like a kid in the back of the car. I wanted to take the wheel and floor the gas, do a Sandra Bullock and career along the cobbles.

“Well, this is a jolly day out, isn’t it?” said my other half, as we sat at the lights and I sighed and checked the time again.

He’s lucky he still exists after a sarcastic comment like that.

Anyway, this wasn’t just alcohol-induced ennui, but also food related. After a week of troughing salty fatty grub, drinking cocktails and living la vida loca, all I wanted was to visit this new sushi restaurant. Fish and veggies. No more cheese, thank you, please. I am closing the social calendar for the rest of the year.

This casual venue is the fourth in the Capital from this Edinburgh chain, who have another on Lothian Road, one on South Bridge and they also own KauKau Poke on that street.

Stockbridge is a new market, but it seems to be going well, even if they have competition in the excellent Kenji nearby.

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We bagged the last pair of seats in this space, which is branded in white, pink and purple, with their fish soy sauce container logo on the window and a cute circular hatch to the kitchen.

I would have preferred one of the pair of bigger tables, since you’re rather battery-henned in this window spot. On one side, we had a pair talking about their ultra-marathon, and, when my husband stabbed his straw into his passionfruit green tea (£3.80), the resultant juice eruption nearly hit the diners on our other side. The young boy at that table giggled.

It’s self service, and there’s plenty of choice in the fridges. I skipped the teriyaki bowls, since anything with peas and cubed carrots on the side reminds me of school dinners.

Instead, I grabbed a bunch of other stuff, Supermarket Sweep style

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The set of five duck gyoza (£4.80) wasn’t bad, though the minced meaty filling was a little sparse and sweet. Their pair of pak choi and mushroom bao (£3) were also a bit vacant inside, and they didn't have the fluffy steamy puffiness I was craving. I guess that’s the problem with getting pre-made things.

Apart from the rock solid avocado, which should have been left out, we did enjoy the salmon poke bowl (£10.70 to sit in, £8.90 to take-away). The cardboard tub was half filled with sushi rice, then there were strips of raw salmon, beige stamps of fried tofu, fried onion, wakame, nori, cubes of pickled radish, edamame, vegan mayo, ponzu sauce and other nibbly bits and tangy intrigue.

As far as sushi goes, the rainbow set (£14.40 to sit in, £12 to take-away), consisted of a decent collection for the price. There was a single tuna, two salmon and a prawn nigiri, as well as a sweet inarizushi - the tofu pocket one with a rice filling. The fish was silky and fresh, and I wondered if they're supplied by G. Armstrong next door. I hope so.

We also had six salmon and avocado rolls, and the same number of cucumber maki. In general, I found the sushi rice a bit stiffer than usual, and it didn’t have much of a vinegar tang, but it slipped down the hatch anyway.

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I also discovered the perfect hangover cure in peach oolong tea (£3.80). On the shelf, it had the warning beside it; “may have an adverse effect on activity and attention on children under five years”. I think that may have something to do with the caffeine content. It woke me up, and I enjoyed sucking up the fruity jelly strips that were at the bottom of the plastic cup.

For dessert, I took away strawberry cheesecake mochi (£3.35), so I could eat them in the hangover HQ that is the cinema.

There were two in the packet, and I promised my other half that I’d save him one. I didn’t. I ate them both in the darkness, and they had a feathery biscuit crumb on their squishy dumpling exterior and a middle of frothy sweetness. Cured.

My day may not have started out well, but it ended up pretty jolly.

78 Raeburn Place

Edinburgh

www.bento.uk.com

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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