Hidden away beneath one of Edinburgh’s longest established Chinese restaurants, I was hoping to find buried treasure at Umi on Deanhaugh Street in Stockbridge, Edinburgh.
This newbie is the sister project of Kenji Sushi and Bentoya and it seems that word has spread quickly about the quality of the authentic Japanese food on the menu at this charming little restaurant with its lanterns, shoji screens and horigotatsu tables.
We arrive early on a school night and there are already several other tables filled with diners – couples, families and friends.
By the time we left, the place is packed to the rafters.
Perhaps it’s no surprise that a restaurant called Umi, meaning ocean, boasts a menu full of tempting sushi, as well as a great choice of ramen and fried rice dishes.
We started with aubergine goma (£4.50), half a grilled aubergine in a moreish sweet and sticky miso sauce, and takoyaki (£4.50), fried dough balls with octopus and mayo. This was a real highlight, comfort food Japanese style with tender octopus and an umami rich and deeply flavourful house sauce.
The rest of our meal really showcased some of the fruits of the sea. The small sashimi set (£11.90) gave us a taster of just some of the fresh raw fish on offer including salmon, tuna and scallop.
It came beautifully presented on a bed of ice with the obligatory ginger and wasabi and provided the perfect opportunity for us to hone our chopsticks skills.
It was tough to choose from the 12 sushi rolls on the menu, but I’m a sucker for soft shell crab so we plumped for the dynamite roll (£9.90) which combined my favourite with salmon, avocado and jalapeno, topped off with tempura flake (think the Japanese equivalent of batter scraps from your local chip shop), a rich teriyaki sauce and spring onion.
It didn’t disappoint, and when combined with the delightful combination of textures which made up the crunchy soy roll (£9.90) with prawn tempura and avocado wrapped in soy paper with eel sauce, dill sauce and crispy fried onions, made for a veritable feast.
We had hoped to sample the ramen too, but just couldn’t fit it in. Anyway this is a great excuse to return to Umi in the very near future. That’s if we can get a table.
Umi, 18-24 Deanhaugh Street, Edinburgh, EH4 1LY.
0131 343 6991