Given we too are a delicious partnership, we’re thrilled to see two of Edinburgh’s finest join forces: the legendary Maki & Ramen and Merienda’s Michelin star chef Campbell Mickel. A fabulous fusion of Japanese’s flavours and Scottish produce, offering you an evening of cheeky surprises and, praise be, endless courses.
Allow us, just for a moment, to wax lyrical about just how much we LOVE Japanese food. The bold, complex flavours, daring combinations, and incredible presentation make it a joy that never stops giving.
Which is why even the mere suggestion of a small sushi roll gets us, figuratively speaking, moist with excitement. But add the renown of Maki & Ramen, along with the talented Chef Campbell, and we are, well, positively dripping.
Having combined their ample talents, the result – for a limited time only – is a tasting menu guaranteed to make one’s tastebuds tingle. Eight sensational dishes, and three superb wine matches we currently have the pleasure of devouring.
Our first dish is Smoked hamachi lightly grilled with a dash of lime, and served cold. Isaac is instantly relived that for once he doesn’t have to cook. Even plating, if he’s careful, is a relatively straightforward transfer from carton to bone china.
Meanwhile I’m pouring us a glass of Hakaushoka Gino Nama Chozo Sake. While it’s faster to drink than say out loud, we are very much enjoying its light, yet fruity contribution to proceedings.
It’s also a lovely match to one of the world’s most popular fish, which boasts a delicate and buttery taste. Much like a distant and subtler relative of mackerel, it’s a delicious beginning.
Palettes cleansed, we’re ready – of course – for more sake, and the wonderfully enticing Carpaccio sea bream with ponzu sauce & chili daikon.
Now this is magnificent! Intense, fresh flavours of lemon, vinegar, radish, and of course this gorgeous lean fish, which is then followed by a very pleasing burst of heat. Wowsers!
Forgetting momentarily that we haven’t entered a time-sensitive Fat Bastards’ Eating Competition, our carpaccio is gone within about seven seconds. We’re also running a little low on sake.
But these are middle class problems soon forgotten as we take a pleasurable bite of the Prawns tossed with toasted black & white sesame seeds. Perfectly sautéed, they definitely boast more razzle, and infinitely more dazzle than your average prawn.
But even this lovely delicacy is somehow surpassed by the simple genius of the next dish, the Cucumber & Kaisou seaweed salad.
It’s savoury, but with a definite hint of sweetness thanks to the likes of soy sauce, rice vinegar, and sweet rice wine. It’s also perfectly al dente, and offers an exceptionally refreshing taste.
A little over-excited by its addictive appeal, we’re soon banging on the table – so to speak – with knife and fork, while chanting ever more loudly: We want more! WE WANT MORE!!
It’s no wonder the neighbours are concerned about our mental heath, as well as the amount of wine bottles in the communal recycling bin. Though seriously, we mean this mad outburst as a compliment.
Fortunately it’s interrupted by the sound of the oven timer. In return for twelve minutes on a medium heat, we’re now about to enjoy the Cha Siu – aka roasted pork belly with herbs, soy sauce & red wine. Speaking of which …
Cue the pouring of Campo Viejo Rioja, an exquisite wine of intense cherry, with subtle hints of vanilla. Though while there’s easily two glasses each, we’re already thinking [ A ] Hello my secret lover, and [ B ] how can this possibly be enough??
Anyhoo, its intense fruitiness is a great match for the pork belly, which is truly worthy of the phrase: melts in the mouth. Though the real secret of its success is the wonderfully rich sauce – thanks to all that sumptuous red wine – ooof!
Though before we can start chanting again, there’s another ping, and we’re on to the Fillet of Beef with tonkatsu sauce & asparagus hosomaki. Which btw translates as one-filling sushi. More than enough, it turns out, to be utterly delicious.
As for the main attraction, the beef is absolutely gorgeous. Perfectly pink, coated with panko breadcrumbs, and topped with yet another epic sauce.
Instantly obsessed over what makes it taste SO incredible, we take to google in search of its possible ingredients. Our best guess: tomatoes, prunes, dates, apples and lemon juice. Though whatever the exact mix, we ADORE, thank you so much.
Which brings us to dessert. Two final dishes, with a Japanese plum wine that’s sweet, floral, and not unlike a Riesling. The idea is to pour over ice and top with sparkling water, an instruction we discover AFTER the wine is long gone.
Even so, it’s an experience we’re extremely happy to repeat. Especially when paired with the delightful Apple Gyoza with lychee puree & toasted coconut. Boasting a tart and tangy taste, with plenty of cinnamon, this is exactly why we love fusion.
Mind you, we have actually saved the very best to last. The Belgian chocolate mochi, just wow! Offering a tiramisu vibe – kinda – it’s another unexpected and delicious twist to what is a brilliant tasting menu.
Our overall verdict: A big bravo to Maki & Ramen and Chef Campbell Mickel! Bold, exciting and surprising, this collaboration is perfectly pitched. While it uses Scottish produce and imagination to create superb, brand new flavours, it also honours what makes Japanese food so fabulous in the first place. Respect!
Reviewed April 2021
Maki & Ramen
Tasting Menu / Six Dishes with wine matches:
£60 for 2 people
Available for Pre-order NOW for April 23 – 24
Maki & Ramen Branches: Fountainbridge / South Bridge / Leith Street /
West Richmond Street / Nicholson Street / Bath Street, Glasgow