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December 10, 2019

Pencilled in to open in January next year, the new venture will be in the Category A-listed Botanic Gardens Garage on Vinicombe Street, just off Byres Road.

Ka Pao – the name derives from the Thai word for Holy Basil – will offer a menu influenced by the cooking of South East Asia.

Housed in the basement of the distinctive white and green tiled, West End landmark, the restaurant will have 120 covers, with a separate bar area.

The new restaurant and bar features the same core management team who opened Ox and Finch in 2014.  

Headed by Jonathan MacDonald, Daniel Spurr will oversee the operation of the open kitchens at Ka Pao and Ox and Finch, whilst Andy MacSween will manage the front of house and bar teams at both locations. The picture above shows Jonathan, Daniel and Andy in front of the entrance to Ka Pao. 

The opening of Ka Pao will create 35 full-time roles and, if you know your galangal from your ginger, they are currently recruiting. Email

Glasgow has already enjoyed Ka Pao's style of cooking thanks to several pop-up dinners and a 2018 residency in the Acid Bar at SWG3.

While Jonathan has lived and worked in South East Asia in the past, several chefs from the restaurant have travelled throughout the region and gained practical experience working in stages in notable kitchens in Thailand in preparation for the opening of Ka Pao.

Memorable experiences

Chicken Khao Soi topped with deep fried egg noodles - a dish inspired by the team's Thai travels.

Chicken Khao Soi topped with deep fried egg noodles - a dish inspired by the team's Thai travels. Pic: Ka Pao Facebook.

Jonathan MacDonald said:

'I have had an enormous amount of respect for the approach to food in South East Asia for as long as I have been cooking. The fascination was really ignited when I spent a lot of time working and travelling in that part of the world in my twenties. Living and working in Melbourne was also a big inspiration, as South East Asian flavours and influences are uniquely interwoven in Australian cooking.

'Some of my most memorable cooking and eating experiences have been in Malaysia, Singapore, Vietnam and Thailand: sometimes in impressive restaurants, but more often on plastic stools by the side of the road.'

Daniel Spurr added:

'Ka Pao is not about trying to be authentic or replicating the food of any particular region or country. The guiding principle will be more about taking inspiration from dishes, ingredients and flavour combinations that we have encountered, that have influenced us and combining them with our own local produce.'