Noto Edinburgh

Is it “American” food? New York American, or comfort food American? Is the cuisine Asian, or “Asian-inspired”? And what about that fried chicken?

Whatever it is, it’s delicious. Although Noto’s big sister, Aizle, receives most of the very well-deserved attention, Noto is a little gem (a word I don’t use lightly) that is absolutely worth your time.

Noto is a great spot for a date night, dinner with a friend, or celebration. The service is intimate and friendly without being annoying, the food is understated yet delicious, and the atmosphere is unbelievably cozy. Come share a table covered in small plates for a special occasion or just another Tuesday.

Open face oyster with dill, herbs, and dressing
oyster, cucumber mignonette, dill

Not one to splurge for oysters most of the time, I would order these again in a heartbeat. The oysters were clean—no grit! sad that it’s noteworthy these days—and went down very smoothly. The fresh, herby dressing of cucumber, dill, and some kind of vinegar complemented the freshness of the oyster rather than masking it. It was good enough to entice a non-oyster lover like myself. My dining partner and I were marking the end of a whirlwind food-inspired European trip, and these oysters were truly celebratory.

crab shell filled with butter topped with green herbs with plate of bread next to it
north sea crab, butter, sourdough

The crab butter combined two of my favorite dip ingredients. Rich but not heavy, and they didn’t skimp on the butter or the crab. We finished our bread and still had enough butter-laden crab morsels at the bottom of the shell to scoop them up with our forks, which we did. It was liquid enough to be spreadable and dippable, but solid enough that the butter didn’t fall through the holes in the sourdough. A perfect consistency.

fried buttermilk chicken, waffles, caviar

The star of the meal: fried chicken and waffles. Every dish we had at Noto was delicious, memorable in its own right, but this is the one I keep coming back to. Now, I have never cared for chicken & waffles. It’s good. The sweet & savory combo, I get it. It makes sense. But it has never excited me before. I have never craved it before. Would it be too dramatic to say this fried chicken & waffles changed my life?

If I could marry one dish, and commit to loving it for the rest of my life and not seeing any other food combinations, this would be it. Fried chicken, waffle, caviar, covered with a drizzle of chicken jus maple syrup. Oddly enough, the sauce really made this dish for me, more than either the chicken or the waffle (or the caviar!) alone. It was savory and mapley and sweet without being saccharine. I could drink that sauce straight out of the tiny pot it came in. This is, to date, the best version of fried chicken & waffles I have ever had.

char siu pork bao, teriyaki, spring onion

We were originally hoping to try the fried chicken bao (two of my favorite things in one), but were informed that it had since been split into two dishes on the new menu: fried chicken & waffle and the pork bao. While I do still wonder what that fried chicken bao might’ve tasted like, this decision probably resulted in the best of both worlds. The bao were filled to the brim with tender pork and topped with a generous heaping of spicy mayo and these crunchy, airy, popcorn-like flakes. I suggest cutting each bun into small bites, both to make it last as long as possible and to spread that sauce around, or you’ll get a mouthful of mayo.

Service at Noto was second to none. We were first timers, but felt as welcome as the locals at the next table (who clearly visited regularly for date night). Our server, though it was her first day, made us feel as if we were old friends.

If I lived in Edinburgh, Noto would easily become my go-to date spot or weekly catching-up-with-friends haunt. Run, don’t walk, to Noto, before everyone else in Edinburgh discovers it’s just as good as Aizle.

More culinary travel in Scotland:

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