I may be able to find a table for you,” said the woman on the phone when I booked this place on the day of my visit. “Let’s see. Yes, 1pm, hmmmm, OK.”
Ha ha, I thought, don’t pretend that you’re So Popular, while scanning those bare white-lined reservation sheets.
It’s Wednesday. Who goes out for Japanese and Korean food on hump day?
Everybody. Next door’s eatery, Brazilian Sensation, was empty but this place was totally rammed.
My on-the-turn group of three were slotted neatly into the back room, so that we wouldn’t soil the gaze of the youthful hipsters in the front of house.
The sign outside reads Japanese and Korean, but not in any particular order of importance, as there seemed to be a lot more of the latter.
The quartet of dumplings (£3.99) could have been of either origin, making them mandu or gyoza. They were crispy and lacy-edged, with a golden silhouette on their bottoms from the heat of the pot. Nice filling too – a pale savoury paste of chicken and spring onion.
It took a while for the next dish to land – 20 minutes or so – but the Japanese okonomiyaki (£5.99) was worth the wait, with a topping of fine aonori flakes under a snowdrift of flesh-coloured bonito shavings.
Sometimes this soul food option can taste a bit stodgy and bland, but this was the opposite, with shrimps, cabbage, potato, onion and, painted on the top, a tartan pattern of sweet tonkatsu sauce and mayo.
We also loved the Korean classic of bulgogi (£7.99), as the shreds of beef were soft and salty, with a side of excellent kimchi, puffy and steamy rice, dried wakame, pickles and miso soup (all mains came with miso, so we ended up with four bowls of the stuff).
The tofu donburi (£7.99) was a comfortingly gooey bowl of soft and creamy scrambled egg, rice, seaweed and sugar lump-sized cubes of toasty skinned tofu. Lovely.
Our sizzling stone pot bibimbap (£7.99) was all right, if a bit boring once you’d got over the excitement of stirring the raw egg into its cauldron of vegetable strips, nori, mince and rice. I suppose you could ramp up the heat with some of the chilli paste that had been provided. It definitely needed something extra.
We weren’t sure about the masago and sesame California roll set (£5.99) either. There were plenty – eight – but, aside from the crab and avocado content, these roe-coated whirls were just too full of gloopy mayonnaise, which made them prone to collapse after a poke from a chopstick. We ate three.
The novelty factor here (apart from the fact that this is one of only four Korean restaurants in Edinburgh – one of which, Kim’s Mini Meals, is on the same street) has to be the twee patisserie, all served on chintzy china.
We shared a rather Seventies-looking chocolate roll cake (£2.75), which was laminated with what tasted like cooking chocolate, stuffed with a mixture of pink cream, strawberries and kiwi and, like a seal balancing a ball on its nose, topped by a single wafer bonbon. There was also a crispy and shiny sesame macaron (£1) and an addictive green tea tiramisu (£2.75), which had a good, fresh yoghurty tang.
Oh, and you must try the yuzu tea (£2), as it’s a bit like being happy-slapped by a citrus fruit (yes, like that old Tango advert, but with a giant yuzu).
There was a slight stress at the end of the meal, as they don’t have a card machine. I had to hotfoot it to the bank, then to another cashline when that wouldn’t accept my card. So take a wad of twenties and expect to spend about two of them. Oh, and make sure to book, as their diary is almost full, but they might just be able to squeeze you in...
113 Buccleuch Street, Edinburgh
(0131-667 0048, www.cafe-andamiro.co.uk)
How much? Lunch for three, excluding drinks, £46.44