Scotland’s diners are becoming more and more spoiled when it comes to their food choices.
Glasgow’s Ka Pao is one of the newest to join the growing international feel, offering a varied menu of south east Asian food.
The restaurant itself, based in SWG3’s Acid Bar, is open and bright, with large windows allowing in lots of natural light. Unfortunately at the time of our visit, it was raining, but we were still able to enjoy the view from the comfortable, warm surroundings.
The menu is good. Very good, actually, to the point where my mouth was watering as I looked down it. In the end, my companion and I chose a starter each, and a main course, before having a dessert. The variety was fantastic.
In the end, I plumped for the salt and pepper oyster mushrooms, with pickled mooli, which I had been advised were delicious. They arrived in long, deep-fried strips. The outer batter had a reassuring gentle crunch to it, without being too firm. And the flavour – well, sometimes a salt and pepper flavouring can be too strong and leave you parched, but this was just right. It was pleasantly washed down by my ginger beer.
My companion picked the corn ribs, with salted coconut and sweet fish sauce. These were a revelation. Think of a corn cob, quarters, and them bathed in a delicious sauce. This is what we’re talking about – and the sweet fish sauce is one of the most curious things I’ve ever come across. It wasn’t what I expected, and married well with the sweetness of the coconut and the corn. This is an idea which I can see catching on, especially as an equivalent of spare ribs for vegetarians and vegans.
For the main course, I chose the flat iron steak, accompanied by a herb salad. The sauce in which it came was delicious – I could taste it had a Far Eastern flavour to it, with a hint of ginger, and was delicious. I normally like a well-done steak, but this was slightly more rare on the inside – but wow. It cut perfectly, and was not a disappointment.
My companion selected the messy prawns, with tamarind and palm sugar. These prawns were huge – some of the biggest I’ve ever seen, and were cooked to perfection. However, this is where things got messy, as I removed the head, tail and legs, but the result was absolutely worth it. Normally, we would have our prawns with a cocktail sauce or a sweet and sour dip, but this was to die for. The prawns were so fresh you could almost taste the sea water, and when dipped in the dressing, was a memorable experience on the mouth.
We were offered an additional dish, of bone barrow and shiitake jasmine rice, which was packed full of flavour. At first, it had a hint of something cheesy to it, but this soon vanished, and was very filling – and left us wanting more. A drizzle of lime over the top was even more tasty.
What was particularly pleasing was that although several of these dishes had been cooked with chilli, the warmth and head was in our mouths for the duration of the meal, and quickly subsided. There’s nothing worse than an aftertaste which lingers for hours.
And so, with regret, we reached our dessert. We both chose the mango sorbet, with chilli and lime shaved ice. This was a unique experience. The mango sorbet was perfection itself, with a pleasant, cooling taste.
However, the accompaniment was unique – the chilli and lime ice was both hot and cold at the same time. I could feel my mouth was in shock at this – ice and fire in the one mouthful. In a word, wonderful.
My companion also had a cocktail to accompany her meal, enjoying a Dr Gimlet, comprising vodka, lemongrass, lime and Thai basil. These combined to give an initial aniseed taste, before subsiding. Delicious.
The chefs have both spent time in South Korea, learning the skills, tricks and flavours that work, and my goodness, they’ve produced some little gems. Forget soul food, this is Seoul Food.
Ka Pao is open Thursday 6-9pm, Friday 6-9pm, and Saturday from noon-9pm.
Ka Pao, SWG3, 100 Eastvale Place, Glasgow G3 8QG.
0798 401 3648