Tollcross is an odd place (I'm allowed to say that as I stayed there for 5 years). An eclectic mix of shops, restaurants and businesses, the area has never really achieved the transformative gentrification predicted for it a few years back.
There's a lot going on however, and in particular the Cameo Cinema and the Kings Theatre still very much generate a significant amount of footfall for restaurants in the area. And it was the Cameo, and the fantastic Sound It Out, that meant we found ourselves heading across the road to No.1 Sushi Bar - the HUGE shiny lettering like a beacon through the absurdly windy Thursday night.
Sushi bars are popping up all over the place in Edinburgh, but a few have been long standing features, including No. 1. The interior is basic, but I always find this reassuring, rather than off-putting, when you’re just after some quick tasty and good value food, as we were.
We were in a bit of a rush to get back to the Cameo so unfortunately didn’t get to try any starters, which meant I could merely look longingly at the pot-sticker style Japanese dumplings. We couldn’t however pass up the opportunity for some edamame. God, how I LOVE these little pods of soyabean goodness; I could eat about a million of them so just as well we were brought an enormous steaming bowl-full.
Tasty bowls of miso continued the soya theme, and then came our main courses. Given the weather, I just couldn’t see past something hot and noodle-based. I’m also still pining for another Friday Brunch at Nobu in Dubai and have been a bit sniffy about Japanese food in this country ever since. I’m pleased to say I am now over this irrational aversion, as I ended up wishing I had plumped for something more similar to my fellow diners’ options (though repeat trips to Nobu still very welcome).
The deep fried chicken yakiudon were good, but you can’t really go wrong with thick gratifying udon, and crisp, succulent deep fried chicken is truly of the comfort food gods.
More adventurous was the Japanese bbq eel with unagi sauce. This was a taste sensation! Snow white sushi rice the perfect vehicle for the intense little pieces of eel, basted in unagi sauce then barbequed and served with more of the eel broth, soy sauce, rice wine and sugar reduction. Only downside was the surprisingly fishy after-burps (too much information?).
Fresh tuna on rice was served ‘scattered sushi’ style. More of the steaming sushi rice, this time vinegared, was topped with spankingly fresh tuna, pickled radish, crab eggs and sesame.
Given the number and quality of other sushi places now dotted around Edinburgh maybe it’s not worth a special trip, but No. 1 Sushi Bar is definitely somewhere you should consider popping in to if you’re in the area. By the way, a good choice of Japanese beers, and nice service too.