"Potato menu?” said the waitress.
With my mouth full, I’d asked if they had a pudding menu at this restaurant, and she’d misheard me.
There are, in fact, zero potatoes at this new sushi restaurant, though if you need a mnemonic to remember this eatery’s name – an ancient term for Japan – there’s always; “You say pot-ay-toe, I say po-tah-to, you say yam-ay-toe, I say ya-mah-to”.
You’ll find it down a quiet Tollcross side street, where there’s a side entrance for the Cameo cinema, so one imagines they might not get a lot of passing footfall.
Although, according to our waitress, their sister restaurant, Kanpai, which is at the barren end of Grindlay Street and has a very anonymous looking entrance, is always completely booked up. Thus, this place has been opened to deal with the overspill.
It’s gorgeous, and smells of freshly hewn wood, with hay-coloured tables, pretty pale pink origami light shades, and tatami-mat-style woven seat covers. On the menu, illustrated with photographs like Seventies recipe cards, we were drawn to their intriguing selection of Specials.
These included the rather unusual offering of crispy brussels sprout salad (£4.50), which turned out to be the first of our orders to land.
It featured toasty and sesame tinged petals, like fallen cherry blossom, of this festive reject, with a zingy yuzu dressing and pine nuts.
This could change the mind of the staunchest sprout phobe.
Next was Spock’s favourite dish, aka the snow crab vulcan (£7.90). On its rippled gold plate, this heap was so pretty, with a pyre of crispy bonito flakes.
Once we’d poured over the zingy ponzu sauce, this dish tasted a bit like ceviche, with pieces of delicate white meat, razor thin slivers of red onion, spring onion and tobiko roe.
The small steamed egg custard dish of chawanmushi (£4.50) was a comforting and soulful bowlful, with the texture of condensed soup, but with mini brolly-like shimeji mushrooms, a couple of dollops of scallop and prawn, plus a rich and heady truffle sauce.
More traditional options included our teppanyaki of grilled aubergine in sweet miso sauce (£6.50), which was so sweet, it could have been billed as sticky toffee eggplant, though I’m a sugar head and can roll with that.
Their take on assorted tempura (£9.90) boasted a light, pale gold and crispy cladding across three prawns, a fidget-spinner-sized piece of sweet potato, one aubergine stick and a couple of mushrooms, with a pool of sesame and ginger dip on the side.
Along with some cheese-based sushi options (see the Yamato roll with Emmental), they are big on wagyu beef at this place, so it was obligatory for us to try the pair of nigiri (£11.90) featuring this Japanese breed.
These were presented so artfully, with a little gold leaf on each, and pink flower petals. It was four bites of smoky and feathery meltingness, on soft rice. A nanosecond on the lips.
If you want something less ethereal, they also do a set of classic chicken gyoza (£4.90) – perfectly uniform and sturdy, like four bum-bags in a row, dappled and toasted on the outside.
Also, the buttery soft tuna sashimi (£6.90 for five pieces), served on ice, was a beautiful rose colour, like a lipstick I have (Neoclassic Coral), and was as fresh as slipping on an algae covered rock and plunging face first into the spume.
Sadly, the “crisp sushi roll” (£11.90 for five) didn’t feature any Kettle Chips, as the title might suggest, though it was crunchy with fried rice on its outer, a blob of silky puréed avocado on top, plus a dollop of a raw tuna mixture and a few beads of tar black lumpfish caviar.
It turns out they do have a pudding menu, albeit a very tiny one.
Choose from white sesame, black sesame or matcha ice-cream (all £3.90). We had all three, and they were good examples, especially the roughly textured black sesame version.
Over the course of my visit, I did not miss tubers one bit.
You say potato, I say Yamato.