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October 1, 2020

About a million years ago, this blogger had a gig reviewing restaurants for one of the local newspapers.

After visiting Café Mao in the Merchant City, I confidently predicted that pan-Asian restaurants would be the NEXT BIG THING.

I was right. The only problem was that I was about a decade too early.

Café Mao may have closed in 2009 but Edinburgh and Glasgow, especially Glasgow, are now fortunate to have an abundance of restaurants, cafés and takeaways offering food that draws upon the cuisines of Japan, China, Vietnam, Korea and Thailand.

Just the last few weeks have seen a number of new pan-Asian places either open, or announce imminent launches, in Glasgow and Edinburgh.

Here is a quick spin through the ones which have caught our eye. Feel free to drop us a line if we have missed any clangers.

We will start in Glasgow.

First up, let's have a quick word for Mamasan, the Ingram Street restaurant which was right on the verge of opening when Covid reared its ugly head.

South East Asian flavours, Scottish produce

Now up and running, it delivers all the 'flavours of South East Asia elevated with the best of Scottish produce from farm, field and sea'.

What does that mean? Well, last week's special was chargrilled octopus with Northern Thai lemongrass and galangal sausage paired with a sweet sesame seed crisp and coriander plus a lime and chilli salsa.

We have already mentioned Katsu Japanese Curry Shop which is getting ready to open on West Nile Street so we will skip on to Akiko, a casual, sushi and poke bowl joint which has just opened its doors on Bothwell Street.

Classic poke - pronounced poh-kay - is raw fish over a bowl of rice with assorted garnishes. It sounds very Japanese but actually started out in Hawaii.

As you might expect, Akiko is big on veggie and vegan  options alongside the fish choices.

Southside sushi

Zapping out to Byres Road, Okome has been feeding West Enders since 2017.

The Japanese café is now expanding and opening a Southside branch on Pollokshaws Road.

Sushi, ramen, rice and poke bowls will all be on the menu. Main pic shows an Okome party platter. Pic from Facebook.

Shifting our sights across the M8, Umai is a new sushi and ramen restaurant on Queensferry Street.

'Scottish produce - Japanese tradition' is the guiding ethos around these parts.

Looking into the future, the glam Sushi Samba is planning to bring its Brazilian-Japanese-Peruvian cuisine to the rooftop of the W Hotel in the new St James centre.

They already have branches in Amsterdam, Vegas and London. The Edinburgh branch is pencilled in for 2022.

Which is a long time away.

5pm offers

The future is bright at Bibimbap West.

The future is bright at Bibimbap West. Pic: Facebook

In the meantime, you might want to browse the menus at these restaurants. All of which will stir up pleasant memories for anyone who has backpacked around South East Asia.

Umi on Edinburgh's Deanhaugh Street does excellent ramen as well as sushi.

Among other dishes, Bibimbap West on Glasgow's Partick Bridge Street serves very more-ish Korean-fried chicken.

We always have a soft spot for Bar Soba in the Merchant City. They often run a 5pm offer: two courses from the Soba supper menu plus a glass of wine for £13.95 each.