Deputy Culture Editor – Food & Drink
New West End restaurant packs a punch in opening week.
Brought to us by the same team behind Glasgow famous Ox and Finch, Ka Pao has been teasing Glasgow food lovers for weeks on its arrival in the West End. Ka Pao finally opened its doors to the public on the 21 January and I was blown away by the dining experience. I left wishing that it wasn’t booked up for every weekend now until March – my homemade vegetable stir-fry will no longer cut it.
Previously a pop-up in SWG3’s Acid Bar, Ka Pao’s permanent restaurant is in the perfect setting, located just seconds from Byers Road and the Botanic Gardens. The interior is dimly lit and minimalistically decorated with clean walls and simply set tables, potted plants in every corner and the kitchen in view of diners. The bar area has a relaxed yet chic vibe – if you don’t have a booking you can take a chance and visit the bar for a cocktail whilst waiting for a walk-in table to become free.
The menu is inspired by South East Asian cooking, every dish seems uniquely modern and sophisticated. We were recommended to share eight to ten dishes between four, allowing us to try more of the menu and perhaps order things we wouldn’t usually choose. There are lots of different sized dishes, from beef curry to cucumber salad to salt and szechuan pepper oyster mushrooms. Although each plate we ordered was ridiculously well presented and had amazing flavour, there were some standouts that can’t go without a special mention. The caramel fried chicken was sweet, sticky and perfectly golden. The crispy pork skins with roasted green chilli dip, a small appetiser, were reminiscent of classic prawn crackers, although grease free and full of flavour and spice. Our ultimate favourite, and a bit of a dark horse, was the hispi cabbage, cashew nut butter and sriracha, which was a recommendation from our server. Who knew that cabbage could be made into something so interesting? For dessert we ordered banana fritters with coconut and mango ice cream, a traditional Southeast Asian treat that I could eat over and over again.
The service was incredible: from wine and food recommendations to speedy turnaround on orders, nothing was too much and the team were clearly confident and knowledgeable.
Although on the pricier side of Glasgow restaurants, Ka Pao’s incredibly original menu is worth both the bill and the wait for a table. This is the perfect place for celebrations and graduations, and for those who value excellent food, wine and love sharing dishes amongst friends. Fans of sister restaurant Ox and Finch will not be disappointed with this new venture, the Glasgow food scene has been faultlessly spiced up.