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January 14, 2020

The restaurant scene feeds on hyperbole but it seems fair to say that the launch of Ka Pao is likely to be one of the most anticipated openings in Glasgow over the next few months.

When The Ox & Finch launched in Finnieston in 2014, it helped cement the neighbourhood's rep as a culinary hotspot.

We could go further. Arguably, back in 2014, The Ox & Finch did much to boost Glasgow's rep as a city where everyone could enjoy innovative, accessible and fun cooking.

Edinburgh may have had the Michelin stars but Glasgow had restaurants where the culinary skills were just as impressive but customers didn't need to extend a pinkie, or indeed the overdraft, to enjoy them.

Having trialled as a pop-up in SWG3, Ka Pao is launching as a permanent enterprise in the Botanic Garden garage on Vinicombe Street. The launch date is a week today: Tuesday 21st January. Main pic is from Ka Pao Facebook.

The dishes at The Ox & Finch don't allow themselves to be categorised easily. Modern British, Med-influenced, nods to the Middle East - there is a touch of all three in the current O&F menu.

South East Asian influences

The menu at Ka Pao is rather more definite. The food is 'influenced by the cooking of South East Asia' and the team have been out that way in order to gain first-hand experience of what that might mean.

Guests could start by snacking on dishes such as crispy pork skins with a roasted green chilli dip or chilli and lime leaf cashews and peanuts.

There is also a twist on the Spanish classic of roasted and salted padron peppers. At Ka Pao, the salt is replaced with tamarind and soy.

The grilled beef salad with lemongrass, shallot and fried garlic sounds as though it would not be out of place in any restaurant in Thailand while the slow-cooked pork cheeks with shiitake mushrooms, star anise and ginger might  be more at home in China.

Stir-fried haggis?

I'm not sure what someone from Laos or Vietnam would make of the stir-fried haggis with pepper, greens and fried egg but I'm up for it.

Ditto the wok-steamed mussels, chilli jam and Thai basil; the fried chicken with spicy caramel and the salt and Szechuan pepper oyster mushrooms with pickled mooli.

You get the picture. Happily, Glasgow is not short of pan-Asian restaurants but Ka Pao looks as though it's going to stand out from the pack.