Ka Pao restaurant making an impact in the capital

Ka Pao Edinburgh has opened its doors on level four of the St James Quarter.

The Michelin Guide recently awarded Ka Pao Glasgow a coveted Bib Gourmand award in the 2022 guide. The Michelin Bib Gourmand recognises restaurants offering great quality food as well as good value for money.

A passion for the food and cooking of Southeast Asia is central to Ka Pao’s style, with a menu of sharing plates honouring the team’s time living and travelling throughout the region.

The name Ka Pao, a play on the Thai word for holy basil, has become synonymous with Scotland’s thriving dining scene, having quickly built a reputation for its bold flavours, low-key funky setting and good-night-out vibes.

The menu unites the very best of UK produce with ingredients, flavour combinations and cooking techniques gleaned from the core team’s travels and experiences working in Northern Thailand and Vietnam, Malaysia and Singapore, and sampling the uniquely knit Asian influences found in Australia’s modern cuisine.

Head chef Sandy Browning said: ‘The vibe at Ka Pao is pretty fun and relaxed. It’s really welcoming and there’s something for everyone. If travel and money were no object, my ideal night out would be at a night market, struggling with the humidity and inhaling intoxicating scents, and eating whatever I’m offered.

‘The setting here might be starkly different but the idea of sharing food with people you like, surrounded by noise and buzz is something pretty universal.

‘The opening menu at Ka Pao will be on-the-whole in keeping with what we offer in Glasgow. It’s a collection of dishes we love to cook and eat. We’re not trying to replicate any particular regional cuisine but I think it’s clear where our influences have shaped the food we cook.’

Hungry diners will be spoilt for choice, with dishes featured such as corn ribs with salted coconut, shrimp and lime; Ka Pao’s own recipe grilled pork and bone marrow sausage; and braised beef and apache potato massaman curry. A specially chosen sharing menu for groups of four or more offers a feast fit for the famished.

Sandy continued: ‘Our inspiration really comes from the ingredients we’re using. Scottish and Southeast Asian food both have their own distinct vocabularies and what’s most fun for me is finding where they cross over.

‘Figuring out how a familiar dish comes apart and applying its technique and seasoning to something readily available to us like lamb, venison or even neeps and sprouts.’

A bespoke cocktail menu combines clean citrus flavours with spice, as in the long pepper penicillin or palm sugar and cassia old fashioned. There are also large format sharing beers, and a selection of wines have all been chosen to compliment the spicy and sweet, aromatic and funky flavours of the menu.

Head Chef Sandy has been at Ka Pao’s helm since its inception as a pop-up residency in Glasgow’s SWG3, and now leads the Edinburgh kitchen.

General managers Lily Maclean and Paige Wilson will oversee the operation, with over 40 new roles having been created.

As well as advanced bookings, Ka Pao will also keep a number of spaces in its bar area for walk-ins. Diners without a booking can either walkup or view live estimated wait times and join a virtual queue via therestaurant’s website on the day.

Bookings can now be made at Ka Pao will be open from noon ‘til late, seven days a week. In return for their feedback, guests dining during its soft opening between 21-25 March can expect 50% off their food bill.

The 92-cover restaurant and bar has been designed by Stuart Black: Head of Interior Design at Mosaic, also responsible for the interiors of Ka Pao Glasgow and Ox and Finch. Stuart’s interior combines bold terrazzo and ceramic surfaces with bespoke architectural metalwork and mid-century furniture.