Kampung Ali

Maki & Ramen – Omakase Sushi Bar


Fountainbridge, Edinburgh

I was rather disappointed when Kampung Ali announced its imminent closure a while ago. This unassuming Malaysian cafe, though very basic in decor, offered great value rice and noodle dishes and was only a short walk from my home. Amongst other things, it did a fantastic coconut rice, one of the best I’ve ever tasted. Here’s what we said about the place back in 2015.*


The premises didn’t stand empty for long. Pretty soon it was transformed into the Maki & Ramen – Omakase Sushi Bar. (A bit of a long-winded title, I’ll grant you, but the place seems to answer to both names and has an online listing under each of them. Go figure.) I kept promising myself that we would drop by and check it out but, for one reason or another, the time was never right. But now, for reasons too complicated to mention, I find myself alone on a Saturday evening and decide that here is my ideal opportunity to give the place a whirl.

The first thing to say is that the management have effected an astonishing transformation here. What was once a hokey, ramshackle diner with cheesy photographic dioramas on its walls, is now a sleek, dramatically-lit dining space with a selection of different-sized tables to cater for large groups, smaller ones and, luckily for me, individuals. It’s already pretty busy when I arrive and the place is buzzing, but they soon find me a spot and I’m left to peruse the menu and admire the extensive collection of Post It notes left by the appreciative (and often rather talented) diners who have preceded me. I go in there planning to eat ramen, but then I spot chicken katsu curry on the menu and decide that this is exactly what I am in the mood for. I also order a portion of  pork gyoza and a bottle of Sapporo lager.

The service is friendly and efficient and the food, which arrives in double-quick time, is piping hot. Those of you who are familiar with the katsu curry at Wagamama’s should note that this is a chunkier, earthier version of the meal, the piquant sauce thick and studded with vegetables. There’s a mound of sticky rice and (nice touch this) a chunk of al dente broccoli. The generously-sized portion looks so inviting, I quite forget to photograph it before I start tucking in. Doh! The same goes for the gyoza – these are moist and succulent, with soft, paper-thin cases that virtually melt in the mouth. There are five dumplings in the portion and I eat the lot. Oh yes, every meal comes with a little bowl of savoury miso soup, which is another nice touch.

Tonight is just a try out – I will go back, hopefully with friends, and sample some of the more adventurous items on the menu, but I have to say that this is a very promising first visit. Go and check it out. If you’re at all artistically inclined, leave an illustrated Post It note. You’ll be in good company.

4.2 stars

Philip Caveney

*I should also add that there is another Kampung Ali (or Ah Lee, as it’s spelled on the website) on Clerk Street, Edinburgh, still apparently going strong.

Kampung Ali, Fountainbridge, Edinburgh



Looking for somewhere with an incredible sense of style? Maybe Kampung Ali isn’t for you. The decor is, at best, functional and the huge mural on the back wall, which depicts an eastern city at night, complete with twinkling neon lights is, dare I say it? A bit kitsch. Maybe you’re looking for somewhere with an extensive wine list? Again, you won’t find it here. The house white is a chardonnay and at a push, they’ll drag out a glass of rosé sauvignon blanc that tastes as though it was originally opened to celebrate the marriage of Charles and Diana – though beer lovers will fare rather better with a bottle of Tiger. But if you’re looking for superb Malaysian cuisine offered at great value prices, well then, that’s a different matter entirely.

We began with two classic starters. The Vegetarian Spring Rolls were light, flakey and delicately spiced, one of the best versions of this dish I’ve ever tried. The the Satay Chicken Skewers came immersed in a thick and tangy peanut sauce, that was finger-lickingly good. Both portions were on the generous side (those with faint appetites may want to share a starter.)  The main courses were equally stunning. I had Crispy Pork with Noodles, which had a clean, pleasing flavour spiced with lemongrass and chilli, just enough to make the taste buds tingle, but not too overpowering. Susan opted for King Prawn with Noodles, a big hearty bowl of fishy goodness, swimming in a broth that was fierce but satisfyingly sweetened with coconut milk. No diner at Kampung Ali can afford to miss out on a bowl of their Coconut Rice  which is light, sticky and fragrant.

A meal for two with drinks came in at £36, which in the City Centre, can only be viewed as exceptional value. So, come to Kampung Ali. Ignore the decor. Sit down and take your taste buds for a brisk trot around the park. You won’t be disappointed.

4.2 stars

Philip Caveney