Review: Koyama Japanese restaurant, Forrest road

After a late start to the day, and a fabulous croissant from Valvona and Crolla with a generous dollop of Claire Leslie’s strazzberry jam for brunch, I’m ready for lunch.

By the time I made my way across the Meadows, there was a growl in my belly. I’ve had Japanese food 3 times in the past week; first dinner at Yes Sushi on Hanover Street on Friday, then Number One Sushi on Home street on Sunday evening, and finally Izzi on Lothian road for lunch yesterday.

Today I thought I’d try Koyama on Forrest road. I’ve been past it on my way into town many times, but have always been in too much of a rush to go in.

My first impression on entering was this place is much larger, with a set up similar to sushi restaurants in Canada and the US. Some booths as well as small tables, red paper lanterns, and Hokusai prints on the walls.

Although I’d consider myself adventurous in what I eat, I must admit I have my ‘usuals’ when I eat Japanese. Unagi (eel) nigiri and hand roll, sea bass sashimi and some sort of noodle soup.

The problem was, today the menu outside was very different to the menu I was presented with. Quite a few things had disappeared, including the hearty noodle soups and the unagi hand roll. In fact, the only mention of eel was in a maki roll and in an unagi don style rice dish. I was told this was the ‘Festival menu’, and no, the chef could not make any of the missing items from the regular menu. Not a good start, as that just had me thinking the sushi was not freshly made.

I ordered sea bass and salmon sashimi, and decided to try the eel maki. For my main dish I had the mixed seafood yaki udon.

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The salmon sashimi was sliced a bit thick for my taste, less delicate pieces of fish and more generous mouthfuls. The sea bass sashimi was fine, topped with firm roe and sliced thinly.

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The eel maki had a bit too much rice and not enough eel, though there was a nice crunch of cucumber. Disappointingly, there was barely any eel to speak of.

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My udon came with panko-fried prawns and pieces of various other seafood,  which tasted suspiciously like scampi! The prawns had a nice crisp crust though, which was the high point of the dish. The noodles were slightly overcooked and limp, and the sauce lacked robust flavour.

To top things off, I was then informed by the waitress that despite the sign advertising a 10% student discount, this only applied if I paid in cash! I spoke to the manager and she allowed me the discount, but I think it’s a little misleading as there was no mention of cash payments only on the sign in their window!

I’ll give them the benefit of the doubt here as it is Festival season, and normal rules don’t apply, evidently. It was a disappointing experience and a mediocre meal, but I may go back and try their wares when it’s back to the normal menu.

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