Maki and Ramen Sushi Bar

Every couple months the flatmates and I try different sushi restaurants: a true bonding experience over our shared love of all things sourced from the sea and deep fried. On this occasion we skipped down to the newly opened, third addition to the Maki and Ramen Sushi Bar family. On the corner of Fountain Bridge and Ponton street, the spacious dining area and authentic Japanese looking open plan kitchen enabled us to watch the talented chefs working their magic while we sipped on crisp Sapporo beers.

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Going with our standard ordering tactic, try everything, we started with sweet pumpkin croquettes, salty pork gyoza and spicy beef tataki ramen. The croquettes were crunchy golden pockets filled with smooth sweet pumpkin and drizzled with Japanese mayonnaise. Definitely one of my favourite dishes on the menu, my taste buds sang with joy.

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The gyoza were soft steamed parcels, perfect for dipping, that greedily soaked up the salty soy sauce and fell apart in your mouth.

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The beef tataki ramen was a vat of spicy, creamy curry broth drowning a thick heap of noodles, crisp spring onions, sweetcorn and tender pieces of beef with a soft boiled egg. The broth alone was exquisitely indulgent and spicy but when eaten with a little bit of everything the flavours exploded in my mouth; these guys know exactly what they are doing.

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The second wave of our seafood feast was a glorious platter of sashimi: salmon, tuna, octopus, squid and surf clam all nestled in a bed of ice crystals. Paired with tangy ginger and eye watering wasabi every morsel was devoured. Piece. By. Piece.

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And last but by no means least the final wave: green dragon rolls, rainbow rolls and spicy tuna rolls. The dragon rolls were devine; crispy prawn tempura cushioned in sweet rice topped with the freshest, creamiest avocado i have ever been privileged enough to taste.

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The rainbow rolls were a pretty display of avocado, salmon, tuna and sea bass draped over crab stick wrapped sushi rolls that tasted clean and fresh.

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The spicy tuna maki were bitesize, fiery and perfect with a shaving of pink pickled ginger.

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Maki and Ramen is under ten minutes from our flat which is both a beautiful and dangerous thing. We will definitely be returning for many more flat mate dinners; flat mate number 2 loved the dragon rolls so much he ordered two trays to bring home and demolish that same night.

Do yourself a favour and book a table immediately, i guarantee you have not tried sushi this fresh, tasty or moreish. The staff were friendly and polite and the mix of families, couples and groups of young 20 somethings created a carefree chatty atmosphere; with everyone collectively pausing to admire the chef’s culinary skills at smoking some secret delicacy under a bell jar every now and then.

To everyone in the Maki and Ramen Sushi Bar family – thank you. Thank you for reminding me how delicious sushi can be when done right and reminding all three of us to organise our flat mate dinners more often.

 

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Three Birds: Tasting Menu

Three Birds is nestled at the top of Viewforth in Brunstfield and i have always wanted to try their menu; many friends have sang their praises and i was excited to find out why. To test their experimental dishes in preparation for their new menu, Three Birds hosted two tasting days where the proposed new dishes were half price.

Half price food? Table booked, we waited eagerly for Tuesday the 4th to arrive.

We began with a trio of enticing starters, choosing a promising seafood dish, a quirky meat dish and exotic sounding soup. Promising turned out to be divine: sautéed prawns, squid and octopus happily drowned in tamarind recado and pineapple salsa exploding which with tropical, fruity flavour.

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Quirky turned out to be a confusing mixture of rich venison tartare, cold under seasoned cauliflower cream, two overpowering anchovies, whole smoked almonds and a chocolate crumb. The crunchy almonds felt out of place against the softness of the tartare and cream and the only downfall of the tartare was there was not enough.

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The final starter stayed true to not only being exotic but tasting like nothing i have ever had before.  Earthy green curry water cress soup that left a surprisingly fresh grassy after taste, slashed with turmeric yoghurt and a deliciously sweet troupe of shrimp sinking in the middle.

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The old ball and chain chose wisely and tucked into a tender braised lamb shank with anchovy butter and zesty oregano gremolata, sitting on a beautifully simple salad of olive, feta, tomato & cucumber with tzatztiki and small crisp potatoes.

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And finally, a drum roll for the star of the show, a mouth wateringly pink duck breast with a crackling salty skin. The sharpness of the rhubarb kimchi cast a shadow over the slightly bland smoked duck leg khichidi and charred asparagus but the duck egg held it’s own; a bubble of pure poached perfectness.

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Portions are generous and by the end of the main courses i was resembling a wee stuffed chicken. But Three Birds dessert menu was too good to resist; i went for a gloriously dense chocolate mousse which achieved a winning combination of bitter and sweet. Accompanied with wedges of pistachio sprinkled golden honey comb, this dessert was heaven; my only demand was for more of the crunchy golden goodness.

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All of these equisite and educating dishes were greedily washed down with a bottle of Mavum Pinot Grigio which was smooth and sweet.

Although some of the flavours did not work for me in certain dishes, the food was bold and the overall experience unforgettable. The staff were so friendly and helpful which made a comfortable atmosphere and time flew by. Three Birds knocked it out of the park and i can’t wait to see what they decide on with their menu; i’ll be singing their praises too.

 

The Olive Branch

Walking into The Olive Branch we received the warmest of welcomes; the staff were charming, chatty and engaging, like going to a friends for dinner. The floor to ceiling windows, stripped wooden floorboards and bare brick walls give the bistro a bright, stylish look while still managing to create a cosy and relaxed atmosphere.

I started with a refreshing aperitif, as you do having a casual dinner on a Saturday night, opting for a Botanist gin, made on the Isle of Islay. And let’s call the selection of crusty breads paired with rich, moreish pesto, tangy balsamic vinegar and a robust olive oil our ‘amuse bouche’; it was flawless.

The first dish on the menu caught me hook, line and sinker; thick pink pieces of lamb perfectly cooked, nestled beside a nutty parsnip puree and braised cabbage with salty bacon lardons. All resting in a rich red wine jus and generously sprinkled with crunchy parsnip crisps.

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My better other half beelined for the Chargrilled 28-day aged Scotch 8oz rib-eye steak; medium rare, marbled with fat and melt in your mouth. Served with enough greens, golden chunky chips and a spicy peppercorn sauce.

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Each dish was a perfectly balanced combination of flavourful, wholesome food executed with a modern flare. Making a choice is difficult but you won’t regret any of them and we left feeling happy and content.

 

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Paradise Palms

Paradise Palms is a tropical, neon oasis tucked away from the city center where you can happily sit for hours trying their extensive cocktail menu happy as a clam.

And the only way to work your way through their liquor menu sensibly, is to order a tasty selection of vegetarian and vegan dishes to nibble while you sip.

I began with Tommy’s Margarita; a faultless, zesty blend of El Jimedor Reposado Tequila, Agave, Lime and Orange Bitters that required sheer will power not to down in one.

Their sweet potato fries are divinely addictive and their mac and cheese is one glorious gooey mouthful after the next. Although the batter was slightly too thick and stodgy for my taste, their choice of friable veggies – crunchy broccoli, baby corn and sweet potato, as well as the standard courgette and aubergine- made good soldiers for dipping into their sweet smokey barbecue sauce.

Portions are generous so instead of dessert I opted for their Koko Loco Espresso Martini which coats your mouth in a sweet, silky concoction of Koko Kanu Coconut Rum, Araku Coffee Rum Liqueur and an Artisan Roast Espresso Shot.

So i say treat yourself; order one of their delicious cocktails or 5, indulge in baskets upon baskets of their fried treats and enjoy this neon paradise.

 

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Loudons: Brunch Haven

Loudons Cafe is the hub of the Edinburgh weekend brunch scene; with guaranteed queues out the door of hopeful, hungry humans patiently waiting to indulge in what has become their trademark dish: the eggs benny.

Ranging from the classic combinations to mouth watering stacks of haggis, caramelized onion and cheddar cheese topped with chilli jam, the menu is rife with temptation. And if eggs ain’t your thing then there is a number of dishes, classic or with a twist, to satisfy your hunger, hangover or health kick.

New @loudonscafe menu tastes as good as it reads but one benny caught my attention: the Leonardo; perfectly poached eggs on wee toasted buns soaked in rich, greasy nut free pesto and laden with garlic roasted red peppers and salty parma ham.

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The Leonardo 

I strongly recommend you to join the queues, become one of the many patient hungry humans because the wait is definitely worth it.

 

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