Edinburgh’s appetite for Japanese food seems to remain very high. We’re now sustaining a dozen and more places, across the city, with Bonsai’s empire now having expanded from their original setting on Richmond Street to include new premises on Broughton Street.

I was joined on my visit to this new place, today, by Angus, who previously quested to Tiles and Asti. We arrived just a moment or two after noon, so had our choice of tables, in the smart interior. Everything seemed new, clean and fresh.

Pickled mackerel nigiri

We contemplated their bento box option, but eventually decided to opt for unconstrained hopping across the menu. To a shared 8-piece rainbow roll set, we added a chilli miso aubergine, and 2 pieces of pickled mackerel nigiri. We’re both sashimi fans, so we opted for both the tuna and scallop varieties.

Rainbow rolls and aubergine

Service was prompt, and dishes were delivered quickly, with little fuss, but presentation was not to the standard offered in the other sushi places we’ve visited. The aubergine and the sashimi looked neat enough, but in general the dishes didn’t pack much visual wow factor.

In terms of taste, the aubergine was rather good, with a nice chilli kick to the sauce, and nice crispy edges melting to a gooey middle. The sashimi was pleasing, too, with both the tuna and the scallops of good quality.


The rainbow rolls weren’t great, though, with the consistency of the rice rather variable. The pickled mackerel nigiri was unusually characterless.

We had ordered just about the right amount, as we cleared our plates. We were left to reflect on our thoughts, as the bill was prepared, and were soon on our way up the road.

So overall, I thought Bonsai the kind of place where careful ordering is likely to pay dividends. There are definite strengths and weaknesses across their menu. A particular focus needs to be on upping the look of the dishes, as presentational aspects are definitely lagging behind. It brings another culinary option to Broughton Street, so I can see it carving a niche, but I think it has some distance to go to rival the quality of other sushi places in the city.

Blythe scores Bonsai
3/5 for food
3/5 for presentation
3.5/5 for service
3.5/5 for setting
giving an overall 13/20

Today’s questers were: Angus, Blythe

We ate: tuna and scallop sashimi; rainbow rolls; chilli miso aubergine; pickled mackerel nigiri

We drank: green tea

We wore: no jacket; no hat

Total bill: £29.80

Bonsai on Urbanspoon

Written by BKR