We should start this off by saying that no other Japanese restaurant compares to Harajuku Kitchen. If you’ve found one that does, please let us know but honestly, we doubt it. Kaori Simpson aimed to bring a taste of authentic Japanese food to Edinburgh, and that is exactly what she’s done. With many of her dishes coming from family recipes, there are certainly a few dishes that you may not have heard of before.
“Our recipes have been passed down three generations from Fukuoka Japan. My generation wants to keep the family recipes alive. My great-grandfather, who was a retired samurai, opened a traditional Japanese restaurant in Fukuoka Prefecture.”
With a Japanese owner, and with a Japanese chef, we always expect big things from Harajuku Kitchen. It never disappoints. The kitchen adheres to the fundamental rules of Japanese cooking, namely respecting the ingredients and their natural flavours. According to Kaori, “When you’re in Harajuku Kitchen, it is no different from dining in the middle of Tokyo City.” Well, we have never been to Tokyo – but I can tell you something, it’s firmly at the top of the list.
Of course, as anyone will know who regularly visits their stall at Stockbridge Market, their delicious free-range, Scottish-reared pork gyoza dumplings are to die for but a visit to the restaurant shows us how much (much!) more Japanese food really offers.
The menu is laden with traditional dishes that are not usually on UK menus in Japanese restaurants. For example, the Pork Rafute, originally from Okinawa islands. This was one of our lunch dishes, delicious slow cooked slow pork belly stew. The pork was succulent and perfectly balanced with the sweetness of the caramelised glaze.
The Kara-age Chicken, fried chicken marinated in ginger and soy, had the perfect balance of texture and flavour and was certainly a favourite of the table. There was, however, a clear winner when it came to dishes – the seven spice Yakitori chicken was simply heavenly. Marinated in a sweetened, thickened soy sauce, the chicken was grilled to perfection and incredibly tender.
Kaori tells us that her favourite dish is Tempura Don, a new-ish dish on the menu which comprises a sweet sauce over a bowl of rice with a variety of tempura, king prawns and vegetables. We, unfortunately, didn’t try this dish, but we trust her judgement and will certainly be ordering it on our next visit – which, we can assure you, will be very soon indeed.
The elegant sushi was simply stunning – but more than that, it’s as fresh as you can imagine and perfect dipped in vinegary soy. Presented on gorgeous platters alongside ginger, soy and wasabi, the food at Harajuku Kitchen certainly resembles art.
The chef’s futomaki rolls, the sushi of the day, was tempura salmon. The bite-sized delights were incredible and while the crunchy tempura gave added texture to the sushi roll, the seaweed flavour complements the salmon beautifully.
It’s no wonder the fish tastes delicious, Kaori insists that all fish is sourced from various regions of Scotland. While Kaori designs many dishes, the restaurant’s head chef is in charge of sushi.
Not only to we love the food at this restaurant, but we love the authenticity of the dishes, the history behind them, the love put into cooking them and the respect for all the ingredients used. It is simply incomparable to any other Japanese restaurant in Edinburgh, and we welcome anyone to challenge that. (Oh, and did we mention that it’s amazing value for money and all the dishes are seriously Instagram-worthy? A winning combination!)
Lunch menus and pre-theatre options are available too. Offers run Tuesday to Thursday, 12:00-15:00 and 17:00-18:30
Offer includes plum wine or genmai tea. 2 Courses – £12.95 per person
Find them: 10 Gillespie Place – Edinburgh
Monday-Closed // Tuesday-Thursday // Lunch: 12:00-15:00 // Dinner: 17:00-22:30 // Friday–Sunday: 12:00 – 22:30
Tel : 0131 281 05 26