A kawaii kitchen in the capital
Loving all things Japanese, we headed into Edinburgh to have lunch at the AA-rosetted Harajuku Kitchen.
So what does Harajuku mean? The Harajuku area of Tokyo is famous for being a centre of fashion and youth culture in Japan and is filled with small, independent boutiques and cafés. It’s a gathering point for fans of Japanese street fashion (lolita and goth styles etc.) and associated subcultures. So this small quirky restaurant at the bottom of Tollcross certainly fits the description of indie and fashionable but would it satisfy our Japanese food lust?
It’s a “Japanese-sized” restaurant (everywhere we ate on our travels last year was pretty small) with muted tones and splashes of colour provided by the Japan-inspired artwork on the wall. I especially liked the sumo wrestler. Nice pants!
I picked a Kokoro gin and tonic from the menu to keep the Japanese spirit alive. Kokoro gin is a dry gin distilled with sansho berry, juniper, coriander, angelica, sweet orange, almond, liquorice & lemon peel. It was a pleasant start to the meal. A selection of Japanese beer is also available.
For a small place there’s quite a big selection, with a mix of dishes from takoyaki (octopus balls) to bento boxes, sushi and hot food. I’m sure there’s something in the menu for Japanese food novices to Japanese food aficionados.
We picked a mix of dishes. Mr Foodie is a big fan of takoyaki octopus balls. We had these in Japan whilst staying with friends, as well as eating them proper street food style in Osaka. A popular snack, these takoyaki were made with cabbage and octopus and served with a katsu sauce. Plump and tender with chunks of octopus. The katsu sauce gave the doughy balls some moisture.
He also picked an aubergine curry, which was recommended on the menu. Aubergine isn’t the first vegetable which springs to mind when thinking of Japan. It was cooked tempura-style and served with a Japanese curry sauce so it was quite tasty but Mr Foodie wasn’t convinced that the texture of aubergine lended itself so well to a curry as it was turning into mush.
I picked the Deluxe Makunouchi bento box. This was a box filled with goodies such as Nigiri sushi, assorted sashimi, assorted tempura, egg omelette, kara-age chicken, salmon nanban, miso soup and rice.
The tempura was crisp and light with prawn being my particular favourite. I’d never had Kara-age chicken before (though I have had kara-age fugu puffer fish in Japan!). It was crispy and succulent deep-fried chicken with daikon (radish) sauce. Think posh fried chicken!
The salmon nanban was actually similar to what we’d had for breakfast in various guesthouses/inns in Japan. This is fried salmon in a soy and vinegar glaze with sake, chilli, onion and carrots. Served cold it was refreshing and tart. It helped clear the palate for the next piece from the bento box.
We enjoyed a relaxing lunch at Harajuku kitchen which brought back happy memories of our trip to Japan last year. It’s small so felt authentic, and the food was reminiscent of meals from our travels though Mr Foodie wasn’t bowled over by the aubergine curry but he still ate it and also happily munched the leftovers of my bento box which I couldn’t finish (the greedy gannet!). There were no delays waiting on food or drinks and both waitresses were friendly and helpful. There’s only one toilet though it was clean and tidy. A selection of buses stop nearby. We’d happily recommend Harajuku and hope to come back soon!
+ Authentic Japanese flavours
+ Pleasant atmosphere
+ Tasty takoyaki octopus balls
+ Good prices
+ Comprehensive menu
+ Japanese gin / beer is available
– Aubergine curry is a good option for vegans/vegetarians but it can be very mushy
10 Gillespie Place (where Bruntsfield Place and Leven St almost meet), Edinburgh EH10 4HS
We walked there from Haymarket station (20 min + walk)
Tel: 0131 281 0526
Mon – Thu: 12 noon – 3pm / 5pm – 10pm
Fri: 12 noon – 3pm / 5pm – late
Sat: 12 noon – late
Sun: 12 noon – 4pm / 5pm – late
Come say hello
Disclaimer: we were invited to have lunch on the house however the waitress tried to charge us therefore I don’t believe we received preferential treatment