I’m so glad there’s an Ooh Mami.
The Asian fusion bar and eatery in Leith is where Iso Bar once was, and until now, nothing ever seemed to fill the space. I think I’m showing my status as a Leith veteran with that Iso Bar reference, though!
Ooh Mami has so much charisma that it fills the space, spills out the door into Bernard Street, and washes against the maze of tram works outside. Often, there seems to be more energy in the restaurant than out repairing the road!
The first time I visited Blue Exorcist, an anime, played on the TV screens. The atmospherically lit venue has never been that cool again for me. Even when subsequent visits once included a celebrity chef having manly reality TV adventures on the screens instead, Ooh Mami has always felt welcomingly different. Let’s not judge even an Asian fusion restaurant on its taste on TV shows; let’s lodge that anime win.
Ooh Mami is dark and cosy, like your favourite helpful Warlock.
Ooh Mami’s Food
You get gyoza, which are little parcel dumplings of food. I’ve also begun to explore the noodle options.
The attraction of gyoza is that they’re straightforward and clever, and they’re one of those things that involve skill, perfection, art and craft so that none of those things is necessarily evident.
At Ooh Mami, I’ve had gyoza filled with all sorts of exciting options. The most memorable of which, I think, was blue cheese and haggis. That’s right, it was was the week of Burns Night.
Gyoza are sealed, you don’t get to see what’s inside or even what the contents are, and you bite and swallow to find out. The rush!
Gyoza are also small. If you’ve gone wrong, you haven’t done badly wrong.
I tend to order two different options when I visit because I’m hungry but also because if I don’t like the first experiment, there’s always the second. It also means you can play roulette with your first bite as you discover which dish holds which flavour.
As it happens, to date, I’ve always liked both. Even the blue cheese and haggis.
Of course, if none of this sounds like your thing, order the noodles or other options instead. I’m equally as happy with the delicious noodles! It’s just that they’ve less of a story.
My only note of frustration with the menu is that Ooh Mami has wrestled with the crippling impact of lockdowns and the pandemic- as so many other hospitality locations have. The kitchen has sometimes struggled to stay open.
My notes for this review have been in draft for aaaages while I wait to double-check their online menu, but that’s coupled with their at-table ordering system, offline while their kitchen is, and since the kitchen has been closed for days, I’ve not been able to confirm.
Ooh Mami’s atmosphere and vibe
As this review notes at the start, I’m thankful there’s an Ooh Mami. With the Universe’s typical dark humour, they open up after my move to Granton. I’ve long wished for an excellent eatery and pub in that spot, and now, finally, there’s one!
The kitchen may have struggled to stay open, but the staff here have never struggled to make me feel welcome. I’ve always felt like coming home when I’ve walked inside, and that’s undoubtedly the geek in me speaking as my home is Edinburgh. I make no claim to be an Asian ex-pat finally tracking down authentic gyoza.
When the gremlins allow, the order-at-table system is exactly how I’d like to get my food. Scan, scroll, select and then wait for dishes to turn up. It means you can chat with friends discuss sharing options, and it’s all faff free.
Sports have never had a look in. I’m not anti-sports, it’s just that sports change the tone of the establishment. Just look at the Barologist up the road, it’s not changed for the worse, but it has changed as the sports arrived. I hope Ooh Mami doesn’t.
What Ooh Mami does do, but I’ve yet to coordinate my attendance, is live entertainment. The Iso Bar had an upstairs area, and if Ooh Mami maintains that, I’ve never been up, but I wonder if that’s where the live comedy and other reasons to get up off the sofa and go outside happen.
I might be a gobby geek when I’m in my comfort zone, but I’m an introvert at heart and wouldn’t usually seek out live events as a solo exploration goal. The fact that I’m tempted to do so for Ooh Mami speaks volumes to me. The eatery is cosy, homely and welcoming.
Of course, Blue Exorcist has angsty supernatural secret police battling murderous demons. My definition of cosy may differ from yours.
Looking for a place to do some solo dining in Leith? I always eaten alone at Ooh Mami. It’s precisely the sort of nook you can tuck yourself away in, and the order-at-table system means you never have to juggle the ‘guard your table while you order at the bar’ ritual.
There should be no stigma with solo eating, dining alone or just going out by yourself to try somewhere new and Ooh Mami is a happy reminder of that.
Ooh Mami gets the thumbs up. I’ve eaten there, as I always try and do with reviews, several times, and the experience has always been consistent. It’s consistently good.
Give this geeky and charismatic Asian fusion restaurant on Bernard Street a bash.