Wednesday, 27 August 2014

Koyama - Fresh ingredients at this little mountain.

August has seen Edinburgh buzzing with people from all over the world; attending the Foodies Festival, The Book Festival and of course, The Fringe.
August is also a very busy month for me so it has been hard to fit The Fringe in with my schedule but I did it! Right at the end but I don't mind because the act that I really wanted to go and see were doing their last Fringe show on the day I planned on going. 
I decided to get my sister-in-law to join me as she had never been to see a show at The Fringe in all the years she has been in Scotland. Since she is a food lover too we decided to go and try out a Japanese restaurant near the venue after the show.

Koyama - in Japanese, means "little mountain" and is also the name of the restaurant we visited.
The restaurant is situated near the University, Museum and Greyfriar's so I can see why it would attract students and tourists. 
Not a big restaurant but they have done their best in providing as much seats in quite a small space, without people feeling like a tin of sardines when sat next to other tables. Very impressed.

Date Visited: 25th August 2014

When we arrived, there were not that many diners in and they had tables put together for what looked like a couple of larger parties later on. All the booth seats had been taken so we were given a small stand alone table at the back of the restaurant. We were given menus right away and our orders were taken as soon as we were ready to order. From what I could see, there were only 2 waiters working that evening and both of them were very polite and always had a smile when serving us.

We ordered the following: Age-dashi Tofu, BBQ Pork Ramen, Dragon Roll and for dessert, Green Tea Ice Cream Mochi.

Age-dashi tofu:
When is came, the portion looked very small and I could instantly see that the coating they had put on the tofu had started to come away. However, flavours were good and the minced daikon with sliced spring onions added a good textural element to the dish. The tofu wasn't as silky as the ones I have had before but it wasn't the worst I have tried.

BBQ Pork  Chicken Katsu Ramen:
Yes, we ordered BBQ Pork but after the waiter went away to pass the docket to the kitchen, he came right back to let us know that they had ran out. He had brought a menu over for us to choose something else, which was very thoughtful, but we already decided that the chicken katsu would be our 2nd option. The chicken was over done so it ended up being a bit hard and the panko hadn't quite covered all of the chicken. The sweet sauce and mayo drizzled on top was pretty good and was what saved the chicken from tasting like cardboard. The ramen had the good "bouncy" texture we look for in noodles and the soup base had that lovely silky smoothness, with a slight sweetness that reminded us of soup stock made by simmering pork bones in the stock for hours to create that beautiful richness. They may have been a tad heavy on the sesame oil but that's okay with me as I LOVE sesame oil, others may find that with the sesame oil, their initial taste of the ramen reminds them of east asian instant noodles we make at home. 
We had ordered this to share but I may not have made it clear enough to the waiter so had to ask for a couple of empty rice bowls for us, which the waiter was more than happy to get for us.

Dragon Roll:
Crispy tempura king prawns and finely sliced cucumber, wrapped in seaweed, surrounded with perfectly cooked rice, topped with freshly sliced ripe avocado and topped with crab roe. YUM! 
My only gripe was that the pieces were very big. I don't have a huge mouth but even someone with a big gob would have had difficulty eating it. Initally I tried dividing it in to two with my chopsticks but failed miserably because the seaweed inside became very tough to tear after coming in contact with the moisture in the rest of the sushi roll. I then used my fingers to tear it apart and ended up with squashed rice all over my fingers. With my 2nd piece I tried to take a bite out of it but the same issue with the seaweed happened again and I was sitting there trying to look graceful with sushi hanging out of my mouth while I tried gnawing that seaweed apart - this time I got squashed rice on my face rather than on my fingers and I pray no one saw me eating that as I know it wasn't a pretty sight! So in the end I ate my remaining pieces by dissecting them in to their individual components and then pairing them how I liked. Each component was done well and if the roll pieces were slightly smaller then it would have been such a great taste sensation in the mouth.

Full House!
During the course of our meal, the restaurant started to get very busy and at one point was completely full, with customers leaving because they didn't want to wait. 
We were just finishing our main course when we asked for a top up of our tea, the waiter went away with our pot, came back to clear our plates away and then asked us if we would like the bill! We looked at him with a slight awkwardness - told him we hadn't even got the pot of tea back yet and we wanted dessert. He was very apologetic. It was probably a genuine mistake and not intentionally trying to rush us out of there. I hope.
All was definitely forgiven when we got our pot of tea back and dessert.

Beautiful crockery from Japan

The dessert! Now this, for us, was the star of the whole meal. 
The last time I had ice cream mochi was in Hong Kong back in 2009. I remember it was a taro flavoured ice cream mochi that we bought in the supermarket and it was just amazing! Ice cream encased in a beautiful mochi skin, not too sweet and so
Anyway, the green tea ice cream mochis were split in half and on each half, it was topped with azuki beans. I am not a fan of azuki beans most of the time because some places prepare them too sweet for my tastes but not this time. The mochi needed the sweetness of the azuki to counteract the slight bitterness of green tea so for me, this was perfect! I have to admit though, it is a little pricey for just 2 ice cream mochis but for me this was worth it because it is not every day you get to have ice cream mochi!

Mochi Mochi Mochi! Oh yummy mochi!

Would I return? Yes - purely for the green tea ice cream mochi. Only kidding. Kind of. 
The ingredients they use are fresh, can't deny that so it would be nice to try out their other dishes the next time I go and hopefully will have a positive update on this post in future.

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