Review: Yamato, Edinburgh

Review: Yamato, Edinburgh

Megan Amato heads to fine dining Japanese restaurant Yamato to try out the offering which does not disappoint.


I often make the joke with my friends that I need another hobby besides eating, and eating out at that. However, when the food is this good and the experience this noteworthy, its hard to find the motivation to do something else.

Yamato is a Japanese fine dining restaurant that focuses on the simplicity of high quality ingredients over fussy presentation. Located near Tollcross in Edinburgh, its tucked away from the main road, making the restaurant the perfect location for intimate dining.

Upon the recommendation from our very knowledgeable server, Sarah, we started with the Karaage Chicken. This is a classic starter is hard to get wrong and indeed; the sake-marinated chicken was juicy and tender, the garlicky batter flavourful. I would have preferred the batter to be a little crispier and it was rather unremarkable compared to the dishes to come, but still a solid dish.

Chawanmushi is one of my all-time favourite Japanese dishes. The custardy, creamy egg dish is an all time comfort food and Yamato’s did not disappoint. The soft velvety texture was spot on and the shimeju mushroom, truffle sauce and king prawn all worked together harmoniously. I would come back for just this.

The Hand-dived Scallop Tempura was everything I wanted and more. The crispy tempura batter was the perfect texture and didn’t deter from the delectate and tender, subtly sweet scallops wrapped inside. The roe was not wasted like they often are in scallop dishes. These were meatier and more robust in flavour, but were quite delicious dipped into the sauce served alongside them. Underneath the scallops was salted seaweed which was the perfect palate cleanser.

My craving for scallops did not end with tempura. This would be my second serving of their Hand-dived Scallops, this time in Nigiri form. They were very beautifully done, the searing on top giving them just a hint of flavour to hold against the rice without being overpowered.

Wagyu is often synonymous with premium quality beef that melts in the mouth but sometimes it can feel like a buzzword when Wagyu is the name for the group of four Japanese cattle. It is Japanese Black cattle that dominates the market and also has the marbling we often attribute to Wagyu. But Yamato’s Wagyu Tataki lived up its renowned name. It was beautifully tender, almost buttery on the palate and felt as if it melted in the mouth. It was slightly charred on top to give it that grilled flavour without compromising the meet. The real truffle oil seasoning was drizzled on top added to the luxurious feel of this dish, and while truffle can be an overpowering ingredient, the quality and flavour of the wagyu stood out. I wanted to inhale this but I spread it out between dishes so that I could enjoy the flavour and texture throughout my meal.

I love sushi and sashimi and often lament about the lack of quality in the options we have here in Edinburgh, but this Sashimi set pulled together by the chefs was a work of beauty. The star of the show when the line-up was already packed full of show stoppers. Scottish salmon, bluefin tuna, scallop, mackerel, surf clam, Japanese yellowtail, o-toro, and oysters all graced the plate, some as naked as they came while others were garnished. Each piece was delicious, highlighting the various textures and subtle flavours of each piece. One of the pieces of tuna had a herbal paste on top that added a lovely subtle floral note. The oysters were truly phenomenal. The citrusy, sweet and fruity dressing was fresh, removing any brine flavour from the beautifully prepared oysters. My guest said that they were the best oyster she has had in Scotland. I’m still thinking about them the next day.

When I went in, I didn’t plan on drinking but our server Sarah was so knowledgeable about what sake paired well with each dish, that we couldn’t resist. For a hot sake to be paired with meat, she recommended Tamagawa Tokubetsu Junmai “3U” version. She explained that it is the only sake that is made by a non-Japanese toji and the only sake that is vintaged. It was quite rich and sweet, tasting not dissimilar from a white port. As Sarah suggested, it paired beautifully with the Wagyu beef.

The Nanbu Bijin Aiyama Junmai Ginjo was a recommendation I will take with me because it paired wonderfully with the seafood. It was light and dry with a refreshing sweetness that elevating the delicateness of each piece of raw fish. A new favourite sake to add to my list.


We finished off with this cold, sweet treat of mixed Mochi in three flavours: Match, Chocolate, and Black Sesame. Mochi is traditionally made with glutinous rice that has been pounded and moulded and sometimes filled with a paste, often bean, but ice cream was a nice alternative. However, the dessert that had us ‘oohing’ and ‘awing’ was the Bunraku Nashi Pear Sake. This was cold sake was refreshing and crisp with just the right amount of sweetness to cleanse our palate. To be honest, I could have happily drank the whole bottle.

Run don’t walk to Yamato — or run to the phone to make a reservation because even on a Wednesday evening they were turning people away who hadn’t booked ahead. Yamato is the perfect place for an up-scale Japanese meal, whether its a date, a family gathering, a catch up with a friend or a business meal.

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