While many of Lucky Yu’s highly addictive dishes are available for delivery, the Social Bitches were lucky enough to dine in pre-lockdown. They discovered a faultless menu, gorgeous sauces, and the irresistible allure of BYOB.
What feels like a million years ago, we strolled with confidence down Leith Walk with no need for masks, or thoughts of social distancing.
The happy clink of our wine bottles – two cavas and a wonderfully sweet gavi – were music to our ears, as we anticipated an indulgent night ahead.
For despite being one of the city’s smallest restaurants, Lucky Yu is both big on flavour and atmosphere. Intimate lighting, a soothing R&B soundtrack, and the buzz of happy patrons only confirm this is a restaurant that does not disappoint.
Moments later, we’re toasting our arrival, and ordering an obscene amount of food. Handmade gyoza, bao buns, Korean-style fried rice, we want everything. And yes, for once, it actually feels right to end the sentence with an overly dramatic: “LITERALLY!”
Our first dish of many is the Karaage Chicken with saamjang mayo & lemon. It’s a delicacy we‘ve ordered dozens of times, in Japanese restaurants across the world, but this is quite possibly one of the best we’ve ever experienced.
We’re told the chicken is marinated in spices overnight, dipped in the subtlest of batters, then deep fried. This thorough approach is definitely worth the effort. We love the crispiness of the each bite, which gives way to the utterly moist chicken below.
And then there’s the fabulous mayonnaise! Isaac frowns, and points out he didn’t get any as the other fat bastard at the table ate the whole lot. Okay, that’s awkward.
Fortunately, the tension is soon relieved by the arrival of the Baby back ribs with honey & tamarind glaze. Now these are an absolute treat. A tender and generous amount of meat that practically glides from the bone, and brings with it an exquisitely sticky sauce.
As a man who loves nothing better than sucking meat off a bone, Isaac’s clearly in heaven. And while I’m not I usually a rib guy – due to alleged OCD tendencies and a need for clean fingers – these taste incredible, and really are worth the mess.
Next come the Gyoza. Now this is where the fusion really kicks in. Forget the standard choices, Lucky Yu has totally broken with tradition. But it’s gamble that’s really paid off, giving us the likes Chicken with blue cheese & hot sauce, or Aubergine & Miso.
Isaac’s gone for the Xinjiang lamb with toasted cumin, coriander & rosemary. His mouth happily full, and his lower lip dripping with soy, he tries to explain this succulent and surprising beast is bursting with flavour. Or at least, I think that’s what he’s saying.
But is it as fabulous, I wonder, as my Dirty burger with ground beef, American mustard & cheddar? So rich, and so outrageously meaty, I now feel surprisingly comfortable with my fingers, face, and much of my clothing being covered in Asian sauces.
As we pop open our second bottle of cava, it’s joined by the Katsu Sando with butternut squash & tonkatsu sauce. A dish that’s definitely not petite, but one bite and we’re confident of smashing it in seconds flat. The wonderfully soft toast, the crunch of the butternut, the zest of the mustard and shredded cabbage, it’s gorgeous.
Though, quite incredibly, the best is still yet to come! We refer, of course, to the fabulous Bao Buns. Twice the size of your average offering, and big – actually make that massive – on taste, they are the perfect pleasure.
As ours arrive, Jill Scott is playing and Isaac attempts a duet. Too much wine perhaps? Or possibly it’s an expression of the joy he feels upon seeing such enormous and perfectly formed buns?
Whatever the case, they’re a pleasure everyone should experience. Imagine, if you will, your fingers sinking into the soft dough, which seconds later just melts on the tongue, and reveals the intense combinations concealed within. Such bliss!
Our favourite is the Pork belly with pickled cucumber & hoisin sauce. The meat is wonderfully moist but never fatty, it’s of course epic in size, and the taste is absolutely wowsers!
Meanwhile the Fried Chicken with sriracha mayo & shichimicomes an incredibly close second, boasting the same high standards in both quantity and quality, not to mention an extremely pleasing dash of heat with every mouthful.
A meal in themselves you might say, which is why we briefly consider saying something ridiculous like: oh no, we couldn’t possibly eat another bite. Instead, we pop open the gavi, and shamelessly order dessert.
Soon we’re enjoying the Homemade Japanese pear ice cream with miso butterscotch sauce & crushed pistachios, along with a few Deep fried mini bao buns, which are similar to churros.
Together they make a perfect finish to what’s been a truly wonderful meal. Our only complaint: we’re now completely unable to walk. Umm, TAXI!!
Fortunately, ordering in – as we must all now do – will leave you with no such problem. Most of the menu we devoured in situ, along with plenty of vegetarian & vegan options, can be throughly enjoyed & over-indulged at home.
In a nutshell:
All dishes £4 – £7
62 Elm Row
0131 556 7930
Order through DELIVEROO from 5pm