As big, big fans of Japanese cuisine, we’re thrilled to say Yamato is five-stars all the way. The food’s incredible, the service couldn’t be more welcoming, and the atmosphere is stunning. But while that’s possibly all you need to know about this hidden gem, we of course have a lot more to say …
Happily for us all, great sushi and sashimi are relatively easy to find here in the capital. But if you’re in search of a venue that offers a real sense of occasion, your options can be slightly limited. Though not any more …
Now, thanks to the fabulous Yamato, we have a Japanese restaurant that also offers a fine dining vibe. Which means you can enjoy its sophisticated surroundings and decor almost as much as the mouth-watering menu.
Walk through the door, and you’re greeted by the smell of freshly chopped wood, making you feel instantly relaxed, not to mention more than than a little curious.
This all makes sense once you fully take in the decor, which uses beautifully designed timber partitioning to divide the restaurant into intimate spaces. Flowers and ambient lighting complete the effect, and suddenly the outside world is forgotten.
We arrive feeling typically thirsty. But rather than requesting white wine on drip-feed, we instead opt for the Pear Sake. An excellent decision, it’s delicious. So wonderfully sweet, it’s almost like a dessert wine, but with bite.
Moments later, we’ve moved on to salivating over the food. It all looks amazing, literally, thanks to a menu that comes complete with colour pictures. Would it appear greedy to order one of everything? Umm, yes, probably, but what the hell …
First to arrive is a little gift from the kitchen: the Blue fin tuna belly sashimi. Wow!
Looking more like a work of art than dinner, it seems a shame to devour it. But devour it we instantly do. Its delicate and delicious flavours convincing us we’re slowly falling in love with this restaurant.
Soon our table is full to overflowing, and it seems the entire serving staff is dedicated to delivering the Social Bitches’ never-ending order.
Our greedy and slightly chubby hands instantly reach for the Pan-fried chicken gyoza. This quintessential dish is perfectly cooked. What’s more, we’re happy to report it’s rather generous on the chicken front.
Meanwhile the Mixed vegetable tempura is another classic dish done to an exceptionally high standard. Light and flaky panko breadcrumbs, and just a hint of oil, who knew mere vegetables could be so pleasurable.
Our focus soon moves to the Karaage – sake marinated fried chicken. Even better than it sounds [ and that’s saying something ], it’s beautifully crisp on the outside, yet wonderfully moist within.
The same can also be said for the Teriyaki salmon. Like every dish on this crowded table, it’s joyfully consumed within seconds. This leaves just one more delicacy to try: the Seared tuna with shredded cabbage and ponzu sauce.
No prizes for guessing, it too is bursting with flavour. But let’s talk about that ponzu sauce for a moment. With a citric base, soy sauce and just a dash of sugar [ we’re guessing of course, we never actually cook ] its intense tart flavour is wildly addictive.
“Now we are REALLY excited,” we yell across the restaurant. “Time for Round two!”
At this point a woman at a nearby table desperately tries to get our attention. Maybe she wishes to point out we’re showing classic signs of having an eating disorder?? No, she’s commending our verve, and suggests a dish for us to try.
“You MUST have the brussel sprouts,” she enthuses. “They’re f**king incredible!”
Okay, so we’ve paraphrased for dramatic effect, but had these words actually been uttered, they would have been perfectly apt. Because believe us, the Crispy brussel spouts with yuzu sauce and pinenuts will rock your world.
Admittedly, we’re not big fans of the sprout [ not even at Christmas, #oh_the_shame ] but this dish is amazing. The secret is the Yuzu sauce, made from a Japanese fruit that’s half way between a lime and a grapefruit. Just gorgeous.
We then move greedily on the Waygu nigiri. Now if this is a delicacy that hasn’t crossed your plate, you must rectify the situation immediately. It literally translates as “Japanese cow,” and is the most tender beef imaginable.
Not only does it boast a beautiful buttery soft flavour, but here at Yamato it’s dressed with gold leaf and lilac flower petals. It also melts rather pleasingly in the mouth.
Though of course, all good things – even dinner – must come to an end. So our impromptu banquet finally concludes, of course, with a little sushi.
While all the classics are on the menu, our charismatic waiter urges us to try some of their more unusual varieties, such as the Yamato Roll which combines emmental cheese, avocado and king prawn tempura.
We wish, even pray, we had the capacity to try three or four different flavours, but eventually settle on just one: Grilled ribeye beef with cucumber, hot pepper paste, fried leek and scallion.
It may sound pretty intense, but it’s actually a subtle and delicate dish that teases rather than overpowers. Long story short, we love it!
In fact, that’s a pretty fair summary of our entire meal.
Dining at Yamato very definitely feels like a special occasion. Whether it’s a romantic tryst, a big celebration, or just two people indulging an eating disorder and a drinking problem, this exceptional restaurant will not disappoint.
In a pre-theatre nutshell:
Usher Hall & Edinburgh Filmhouse 8 minute walk / Rose Street Theatre 15 minute walk
Lunch / dinner
Sushi Roll, 8 pcs £8 – £13 / Other dishes £5 – £9
11 Lochrin Terrace
Tollcross EH3 9QJ
0131 466 5964