Review: Pomelo, Edinburgh

Pomelo is an Edinburgh establishment you always hear about. It’s so popular that you often have to make a reservation weeks in advance to get a table, especially for their collaborative menus.

Their focus is on creating innovative Asian fusion dishes using local Scottish produce. ‘Fusion’ is a word I hesitate on when deciding where to eat. There are many fusion restaurants that are well-meaning and creative but can miss the mark when it comes to hitting the key flavours or textures essential to the cultural dish they are recreating. So, while I was keen to try Pomelo’s food, I was also nervous it wouldn’t live up to expectations.

Pomelo is all about being fresh – fresh ingredients, fresh menus. They change their menu on a weekly basis, introducing innovative takes on Chinese and Asian cuisines. After talking to the owner about his inspiration, it was also clear that while they are keen on experimenting, authenticity is equally important. Each dish is created or amended by young Asian chefs who have grown up eating their cultural foods and understand each dish’s flavour profile, texture and complementary pairings.

The owner’s wife sat us and walked us through what to expect of the dining experience and kindly offered wine pairings. As neither my guest or I had the experience of trying orange wine, she helped us pick two that would pair with both the fish and the more robust, meaty dishes.

We started with a classic cold dish of garlic chilli smacked cucumber and woodear mushroom (or black fungus, as its often known). This is one of my favourite dishes as its simple and combines multiple textures with the crunchy cucumber and chewy mushroom. Pomelo’s version didn’t stray too far from the original, but I enjoyed how generous they were with the chilli oil.

My favourite dish of the night was the hot and sour trout tartare. This dish was flavourful and fresh, full of heat and the prawn cracker we piled it on top of added a satisfying crunch. The trout, an underrated fish, paired beautifully with the seasoning, offering a fresh, moreish piquancy.

If there is one thing I’ve learned about Scottish people from living in Scotland these years, its their love of battered food. So, Scots shouldn’t miss out on the Crispy Enoki & Shimeji mushroom in lemongrass and chilli sauce with its crunchy, golden batter that made each bite a delight. The the distinct enoki (sometimes known as needle) mushroom was an inspired choice as it paired well with the sweet and spicy chili sauce beneath.

Their Hand Ripped Noodles are one of their most popular dishes and that night they had them with doubanjiang – a salty, spicy fermented bean paste often made in Sichuan province – and whipped tofu for their take of Mapo Tofu. The noodles were delightfully chewy, if a little long, and the doubanjiang and whipped tofu mixed together into spicy, savoury rose. It’s hard to beat the beauty of mapo tofu in its original form, and I would have liked it a little spicier, but I still enjoyed this dish for its flavour, texture and ingenuity.

Potato lovers will rejoice at the braised mushroom and potatoes in three cup sauce. Three cup sauce is a Taiwanese creation usually consisting of equal portions rice wine, soy sauce, and sesame oil. While three cup chicken is the classic variation, Pomelo’s potato and mushroom alternative is great for vegans and vegetarians, the cilantro and crispy shallots on top gently enhancing the flavour.

Char Siu pork – or Chinese BBQ – is a quintessentially Cantonese dish full of depth and balanced flavour, and Pomelo nailed with their salty, sweet and succulent pork. The cauliflower puree, beetroot, lentil & spring onion salad that accompanied it was a delightful pairing to balance the pork’s richness, but my mind was already on the midnight raids of my fridge for leftover char sui later.

I am never too full for dessert and the Filipino-inspired peach and mango hand pie topped with vanilla ice cream was a sweet way to end the evening. The crispy casing coated in a freeze-dried raspberries and filled with hot peach and mango was a comfort that reminded me of the toaster strudel.

I was delighted with my experience at Pomelo. They care about the product they are delivering, from their exceptional service to the thoughtfully crafted menu. I will be keeping my eyes peeled for their collaborations with other local eateries.

Pomelo, 27 Sciennes Rd, Edinburgh EH9 1NX. Tel: 0131 452 9204 

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