01 October 2021, 07:52 AM
  • Kaori Simpson, executive chef director at Harajuku Kitchen shares how she incorporates Scottish food and drink with Japanese cuisine
How Kaori Simpson of Harajuku Kitchen uses the best of Scotland’s larder

Harajuku Kitchen is situated in Bruntsfield on the south side of Edinburgh. It is a lovely neighbourhood full of independent businesses, from restaurants to cafés and artisan bakeries. We all support each other where and when we can. We also have a street food pop-up at the newly developed St James Quarter towards the east of the city, and we have street food stalls at two of Edinburgh’s most popular markets, Stockbridge and Grassmarket.

We are very lucky to have so many brilliant suppliers on our doorstep for all aspects of the business. We have met many at the markets, which is where Harajuku Kitchen started in 2013. Being in the capital means we are spoilt for choice when it comes to sourcing ingredients. We also support independent suppliers in the surrounding areas, like the Borders and East Lothian.

Edinburgh’s diversity is a source of inspiration. It is a multicultural city, so we have plenty of Asian, Polish and Halal outlets to source from all over the city. Rather than sourcing any of our ingredients and produce internationally, we tend to shop locally, using these outlets whenever possible. There are lots of weekly markets where independent traders can showcase their produce to the public and potential clients, like the farmer’s market, Leith Market and Stockbridge.

There are plenty of fishmongers selling produce caught just off the east coast and top-class butchers supplying high-quality meat. Above all, it is the people behind the produce that make it so special. They are wholly dedicated to their trade and genuinely connected with the people and businesses within the city. I am a member of Slow Food UK, so sourcing as locally as possible is really important to me.

When it comes to fish for our sushi, I use Eddies Fishmonger in Edinburgh, which sources the best Scottish seafood and has done for years. The team is superb and nothing is ever too much trouble. The fish is always so fresh and they have never disappointed us. The Ethical Shellfish Company, run by Guy Grieves, is who we use for our shellfish. He fishes sustainably just off the west coast. For free-range pork, I use Shaws Meat, a family-run business in the Borders. They are one of the best pork suppliers in the country – the pork is tender, which is perfect for Japanese dishes.

Cyrenians Farm is where we source our fruit and vegetables. We love working with them and the team behind it is brilliant. We often visit the farm as they also started growing Japanese herbs for us too, which are amazing. If we are putting on a beef special, we will go to Peelham Farm, as all their meat is organic. Denise, one of the owners, is one of the best in the business. She is so knowledgeable in her field and produces some of the best beef and mutton in the country.

I love that I can incorporate Scotland’s bountiful larder with my nation’s cuisine