In traditional Japanese style, it’s small but well thought out; simplistic yet beautiful. The lines are clean but the décor is very nature bound with plenty of wood, gorgeous pieces of bamboo hung at various lengths from the ceiling, home to the lights; and intricate cut out screens providing intimate sections along the length of the restaurant, each with two tables of two.
The table is minimalist set only with a small hashioki, chopsticks and a small ceramic bottle and saucer holding soy sauce.
This elegance is soon disturbed when you are presented with the menu and the sake menu; but soon restored once you’ve ordered. The menu covered are minimal too, covered in a light grey fabric but is essentially a picture book. Each dish description comes with a photograph, helping us not to get confused between sushi, sashimi, nigiri etc. very handy indeed; however the down side to this is that expectations are raised and disappointment follows when your dish doesn’t measure up to that in the photograph.
Sake has been served in Japan for thousands of years and Yamato have a really nice selection some served hot and some cold. Unfortunately, they had just run dry of the Dassai 39 which pairs perfectly with seafood. It has vivid notes of tropical, white blossom fruit and fresh apple, whilst the palate is delicate and textural, with a delicious umami depth and a fine dry finish.
Our second choice was the Kasumi Tsuru Kimoto Karakuchi Sake; full bodied, deep, mildly fragrant and dry. This was served hot and arrived at the table in this very elegant porcelain flask known as tokkuri. Our waitress carefully explained that our sake was hot and to leave it to steep before pouring.
The menu is filled with delights, pages of classic dishes, Tappen Yaki, Tempura, Sashimi, Nigiri, Wagyu, Sushi and Maki. It’s just a matter of flicking back and forth, looking at the photographs and deciding which dish makes your taste buds jump for joy the most.
The dishes will arrive randomly, some at once, some staggered and in no particular order so remember to get stuck in when they do arrive at the table.
Miso Soup with tofu, scallion and wakame. As all miso soup is; a salty savoury warmth.
Seared tuna with chilli ponzu sauce. This was the one of two dishes that slightly disappointed only because the imagery and the actual dish are two completely different things.
One of the most beautiful dishes I’ve seen in a long time, fanned out on a gold plate, thin delicate slithers of tuna.
I wouldn’t say these were seared, more a flame had licked them but the citrus from the ponzu and the chilli added a lovely flavour profile and I just wish there had been another 5 servings on my plate.
Snow Crab Vulcan with snow crab, red onions, scallion, bonito, tobiko, yuba and ponzu sauce. On arrival at the table this table is a spectacular tower piled high; the ponzu sauce is then poured table side over the top and if you listen carefully, you’ll hear a slight crackle as the warm sauce hits the crispy onions and bonito flakes.
I had to do a wee bit of a search for the snow crab (don’t expect huge amounts here) but nonetheless the ponzu sauce which is thin, watery and citrus (it’s meant to be this way) was outstanding. It’s like someone has squeezed an entire orangery over the dish. You’ll want to mop up every morsel and slurp the sauce (if only you could).
Gyoza, pan fried chicken dumplings. I love gyoza. You know I love gyoza. Delicious and I couldn’t dunk them enough in the soy sauce.
Grilled Rib-Eye beef roll with cucumber, hot pepper paste, fried leek and scallions.
Very tasty morsels of sushi, that you are able to plop in your mouth and contently eat. The rib-eye is again very thin and just there.
Spicy tuna soy wrap with yuba and avocado. These are quite sticky with the yuba (soy beans) and the tuna comes with quite a spice kick.
We let out tummies settle for a wee while and decided to order some desserts but the dessert menu is small, very small. Two course small; your choices are Raspberry Mochi or ice cream – white sesame black sesame, and green tea ice cream.
Mochi is a Japanese rice cake made with glutinous rice that creates a jelly like casing housing a ball of raspberry ice cream. The texture is something you’d definitely have to get use to.
Out of the three ice creams, the white sesame was the nicest. The black is very savoury and I just don’t hold any appeal for matcha or green tea.
I applaud Yamato that they have taken the time and skill to defrost their fish carefully (all raw fish eaten in the UK, must by law be frozen first) and then to lovingly prepare it fresh. Presentation is key but for me, food has to first and foremost taste amazing.
Yamato Japanese restaurant is without a doubt beautiful. Their attention to detail is bar none and everything is created with precision and delicately positioned. The staff are very attentive, taking the time to explain dishes and to re-arrange your table when you put a chopstick out of place – they like to retain the Zen like dining experience and rightly so!
I highly recommend Yamato Japanese Restaurant.
Yamato Japanese Restaurant, 11 Lochrin Terrace, Edinburgh, EH3 9QJ
Tel : 0131 4665964 www.yamatosushiedinburgh.co.uk
My Spoon Award – Silver 8/10
TartanSpoon was invited to review and provided with an £80 dining allowance. Dessert and drinks were not included and were purchased separately.