There are several new food joints launching in Edinburgh with a bit of a splash in coming months. These recent openings have launched without too much fuss but in their initial weeks and months of trading having already started to demonstrate that they’re worth seeking out, as they bring further variety and charm to Edinburgh’s dining choices.?
The Southside is an excellent location for food and drink businesses. There’s a large student footfall along a buzzing arterial route and there are certainly places that have flourished, such as Filament, The Apiary and ?Aizle.
But it’s a competitive market so it can be a challenge for some new businesses to get a foothold. Recently opened Te-Bi Island offers an intriguing new style of place, showcasing two of the staples of Taiwanese cuisine: tea and rice rolls.
With an interior by popular local designers Splintr, whose work you might have seen at Smith & Gertrude, Pumpkin Brown or Cairngorm’s West End ?branch, the place is certainly rather eye-catching.
When I visited, I’d expected the rice rolls to be cold like sushi, but these were hot and somewhat in the style of a seaweed wrapped burrito. I’m not a burrito fan, but the light crispness of the seaweed shell was extremely good and the teriyaki beef filling that I’d chosen was tender and succulent. I also enjoyed a nice cup of refreshing green tea, although there are more elaborate tea variations on offer, such as the option to top things with coconut jelly or custard pudding.
Te-Bi is definitely one worth adding to your list for a lunchtime visit.?
Ninja Kitchen at Bourbon
Over on Frederick Street, a nightclub venue that seems to have struggled to capture the public’s imagination has recently re-opened in its latest incarnation as Bourbon.
With a truly mind-blowing amount of money spent on the refit, the place mainly caught my eye due to their food offering marking the return of Ninja Buns.
For those not familiar with the Ninja story, Markus and Inga set up the Ninja Buns street food stall in 2014. It was an instant hit with its trademark spin on traditional Taiwanese gua bao buns. They went on to win the Food Awards Scotland award for best street food in Scotland, then soon after took up permanent residence at Paradise Palms.
When Inga had to return to her native Tyne & Wear, at the end of 2015, Markus remained in Edinburgh and plotted next steps. The opportunity at Bourbon arose and while it has taken an exhausting amount of effort to get things up and running the Ninja Kitchen is now back up and running.
The menu keeps a number of familiar dishes and adds some fresh ideas. You can expect a good range of buns, rice bowls of various types and an array of accompanying treats.
Everything is priced reasonably and designed for sharing. Much of it is allergen friendly with Markus having adopted gluten-free soy sauce as standard which makes the range of dishes available as GF that bit broader.
The power-packed Korean spiced cauliflower is spectacular, while the wasabi and orange seasoned fries and wonderfully aromatic. They’re an excellent indication of the sparky imagination at work in the kitchen.
The venue still has a bit of bedding-in to do but the quality of food on offer more than makes up for things.
Having traded throughout August as Venue 383 or “Codename: Not Nightcap”, the original plan with Nightcap was to re-group after the Festival, get the builders in for further work to the extensive premises, then re-open the full offering some time in November.
However, with the cocktail bar having already built a core following and the audience for their chicken wings having grown ever more appreciative, the team behind the friendly Stockbridge local boozer the St Vincent and their in-house food offering Feed, joined by the cocktail bar skills of ex-Bramble colossus Sam McGarry, have decided to capitalise on their momentum as a permanent fixture.
The premises were previously home to the aptly-named 9 Cellars Indian restaurant, then a Thai that briefly followed. The place is a veritable rabbit warren of vaults and cubby holes so expansion will take place gradually over the coming months.
For now, the bar is serving a menu of creative cocktails, a small and focussed selection of beer in cans, and the excellent food for which Feed has built a deserved reputation.
Make sure to visit soon to follow the progress of this excellent new place that has further enhanced Edinburgh’s world-class selection of cocktail bars.
And ending on a different note, Five Degrees is a new cafe in Bruntsfield with Edinburgh’s first menu exclusively designed for dogs. Even though I’m not a dog-owner, I found the place full of quirky charm, so it’s another place I’d recommend.