REVIEW: Mamasan’s

Bao buns. Just when you think Edinburgh has all cuisines covered another wee treat comes out the woodwork. Fair enough, Ninja Kitchen has this particular niche covered, but we’re Edinburgh, we’re spoiled and entitled and we want OPTIONS.

Enter stage left: Mamasan’s. From the mercurial minds that gave us the simple-yet-genius Bodega on Leith Walk (and now Tollcross!) comes another simple but effective blueprint, coupling the Japanese taco with a more familiar wings menu and cocktail bar to create a great addition to the ever-impressive Leith Shore-line.

Like’s its Hispanic cousin, the décor is simplistic but warming, plush couches lining the walls and a perpetual candle-lit umber to cosy up in. The obvious addition to the old model is the bar area and they offer up some interesting homemade libations as well as – I assume – more standard fare. The dim lighting lends a right speakeasy feel to the bar aspect of the restaurant in particular and the acid jazz soundtrack they play certainly helps to emulate the feel.

We went along for the opening of their kitchen weekend and were subjected to a taste test menu. We went with a plate of buns each and a portion of wings to share, the former served in portions of two, the latter in threes (good luck splitting the difference, couples!). Before we got into the menu, though, I grabbed a rum-based cocktail off their menu, the Ninja Ninja (£7.50) combines lychee and lime juices with five-spice and Appleton white rum and was just the ticket for a cool, quiet Saturday evening.

For the main event I chose the Crispy Fried Chicken Buns, whilst the missus opted for the Pulled Beef (£6 per portion), both of which were awesome. Personally I think I picked the winner, the combination of accoutrements that accompanied the coated white meat was a cacophony of flavours and a nice little bit of spice without being garish. The beef went the opposite way with a very mellow and earthy vibe, no less tasty or great but I like my flavours punchy.

As a side to share we grabbed the only wings on the menu, which this evening was Gochujang (£4 per portion). Wow, these were good and henceforth I’m likely to gravitate to anything with ‘gochujang’ in the description. Such a blend of sweet, sour and spice, dappled with spring onion and sesame. We actually argued about who would have the last one!

Only quibble with the place would be the cost of a spirit and mixer. £6 seems a little steep for a bourbon and coke, especially at the Shore, but this sting comes due to the coke being served in a bottle (at a cost of £1.50) and not on draught so I would be keen to see mixers taken to the tap, making for a much more appetising price tag all round.

Service is sweet. Attentive, knowledgeable staff who are just the right amount of laid back at the same time offering up decent chat and a quick turnaround of the bill (for those who hate when a place takes another 10 mins to present the invoice, only to not come prepared with the card machine!).

Cheap, easy and delightful. Before I married I might have cracked wise following that statement, however these days I’ll end it like Arnie and simply say, I’ll be back!

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Mamasan’s, 7 Bernard St, Edinburgh EH6 6SL

07880 674 683

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