Mid week dinners at home can often be hasty rushed affairs where creativity and presentation are severely lacking.
With that in mind, heading out to dinner on a school night is always a welcome treat, especially knowing that I won’t be left with the inevitable pile of washing up.
Last Thursday my partner and I headed to Edinburgh’s Tollcross to check out Japanese restaurant, Yamato. Tucked down a side street just a hop skip and a jump away from the Cameo Cinema, we entered a beautifully decorated space with an instantly calming effect. ‘Yamato’ is an ancient name for Japan and can also refer to the Yamato period in Japanese history which lasted into the 8th century. The dining area was divided into mini sections by wooden screen grids, a common feature in Japanese interior design.
We perused the menu and began to compile an order which would see our table become the site of a feast of both colour and flavour. We opted for miso soup, grilled tuna nigiri, spicy salmon maki, spicy tuna crisp sushi roll, chicken gyoza, wakeme seaweed salad with sesame, teppan teriyaki salmon and grilled wagyu gunkan. Keen to have the full experience, we ordered some sake to drink and chose to have it served hot.
As each dish was brought to our table, my partner and I marvelled at the impeccable presentation and obvious care they had been awarded. The range of serving dishes fascinated me. There was a little ceramic tea pot on our table which contained soy sauce, with small circular dishes for us to pour it into. The ‘jug’ (for want of a better phrase) that our sake was served in was placed in a matching little bowl that contained hot water. Our friendly waitress returned after five minutes and then poured our sake for us.
All our dishes arrived at very similar times meaning we could enjoy everything at once. I loved the spicy salmon maki served with the usual suspects of wafer thin slices of pickled ginger and a healthy dose of wasabi. The flavours of each component came through and the addition of soy sauce brought a wonderfully satisfying feeling. The seaweed salad was another favourite of mine as it was fresh but salty and not what you might expect. My partner loved the gyoza and would have happily eaten another portion given the chance.
The grilled wagyu gunkan was similar to a hand roll and the beef very much lived up to its excellent reputation. With such a wonderful melt in the mouth texture and a beautiful flavour, it was dangerously moreish. The miso soup was another massive injection of savoury satisfaction and one that both of us enjoyed. The terriyaki salmon was cooked perfectly and definitely stood apart from non Japanese restaurant’s versions of the dish.
To finish we shared mochi filled with raspberry ice cream. Mochi is a traditional rice cake which has a chewy consistency. It’s very different to the heavier British desserts and I’m not sure the texture is for everyone however the ice cream and accompanying blueberries did bring our meal to a refreshing close.
Throughout our meal, the waitresses were very friendly and efficient. We had a few questions about our dishes as truth be told, we are relative beginners when it comes to Japanese cuisine. The evening was more than a dinner, it was an experience. We listened to beautifully relaxing music which, combined with the simple but beautiful decor provided an atmosphere of complete tranquillity – a world away from a typical Thursday night row over the dishes.
For anyone looking for an authentic Japanese meal that embodies a true feeling of zen, Yamato is the place to go.
Yamato, 11 Lochrin Terrace, Edinburgh EH3 9QJ
0131 466 6964