Go underground with Japanese restaurant Umi
It would be easy to walk past the latest addition to Stockbridge's flourishing food scene without even noticing.
Tucked discreetly in the basement below the shops on Deanhaugh Street the charms of Japanese restaurant Umi are decidedly understated. Descend the steps into the bijou venue and you enter an oasis of calm away from the hustle and bustle outside.
Maybe it is the wood and paper dividing wall, the straw chairs or the quietly friendly and attentive service that makes you feel as though you are easing gently into the slow lane. The instant arrival of a pot of green tea does no harm either.
Umi may have just opened, but the restaurant-going residents of Stockbridge will find something familiar about some of the furnishing and menu. The Kenji sushi bar in nearby St Stephen Street has established itself as a popular neighbourhood destination and this is its little sister, the latest venture by the people behind both Kenji and its forerunner Bentoya in Bread Street.
This though for me was a first time visit. Having thoroughly enjoyed visits to the high street Japanese chains Wagamama and Yo! Sushi (so much so that I even tried making my own at home with decidedly mixed results), I was keen to broaden my palate.
I wasn't to be disappointed by Umi.
Our afternoon feast started with sushi and Crispy Jungle Roll (£10.90), a deliciously crispy deep fried tempura roll with asparagus, avocado and cucumber, topped with dill and cranberry jam. Alongside that we had an equally generous six-piece Tiger Roll (£10.90) of salmon, tuna and white fish, with an avocado top and crispy leek. With sushi named Crazy Salmon, Dynamite and Volcano Californian, alongside more traditional options, there was plenty of fun and choice on the menu.
We made light work of the bowlful of Truffle Edamame (£4.50), steamed green soy beans, beautifully seasoned with a dash of sea salt and truffle oil.
The surprise hit for us was the Aubergine Goma, grilled aubergine with a sweet miso sauce. We felt adventurous ordering it, but loved its soft, sweet flesh.
The ramen, bowls of steaming broth and noodles, were homely and tasty. We opted for the straight Tonkotsu Ramen (£9.90) as opposed to the hotter Crazy Tonkotsu.The hearty Chashu pork belly came served with a soft boiled egg, leeks, sweetcorn and sesame seeds, while the Vegetarian Ramen (£9.90) substituted tofu for the port belly.
The star dish, however, had to be the Stonebowl Fried Mushroom Fried (£9.90) for both being a light, flavoursome dish and a wonderful little bit of culinary theatre. The stone dish is brought sizzling to the table and the ingredients cooked in front of you as they are mixed through the bowl.
Only full stomachs stopped us exploring further through the menu, but we left already talking about a return visit with other friends.
18-24 Deanhaugh Street, Stockbridge
0131 343 6991