Julie’s Kopitiam


IT'S A sun-drenched evening on Pollokshaws Road. Which is just as well because out there right now are little groups of well-dressed Glasgow people hesitantly wandering up and down trying to work out where to go until a table becomes free in here.

I would have been joining them, probably in the Georgic a couple of doors away, had a woman at a two-seater inside Julie’s Kopitiam not looked up as my mobile number was being taken and as 45-minute-waits were being mentioned – and indicated she was leaving soon.

I squeeze across from this life-saving stranger and 20 minutes later am slurping up coconut chilli kerabu salad. Strands of vermicelli noodles, dusted with grated coconut, soused in fish sauce, zingy lime, chilli and mint leaves completely refusing to obey my chop-sticks, slapping everywhere, drooling and dripping and probably making me look even dopier than usual.

Yes, I could have used a fork but it’s sometimes better just to stay in the moment. Easier handling of the chunks of cool, clean chilli bean cucumber; salted black beans, garlic and soy give the whole thing a cool, moist punch.

READ MORE: Potluck, Nithsdale Road, Glasgow

Incidentally, we’re now chatting at this table about the trip the lady will take to Sicily for a wedding as she waits for her dessert to be boxed to take home. It’s that kind of place. Something of that chatty, conspiratorial buzz that flies about when people pile into a restaurant that’s just-been-discovered brand new and full of promise. This has actually been on the map for some months now but there’s no sign of the rush receding as the door is framed, as it has constantly since I arrived, by people enquiring about tables.

They don’t take bookings in here and why would they? Who would risk no-shows, and slack tables when the place is clearly already a sensation. It does mean though that generally people have to find somewhere nearby for a coffee or a drink while a table becomes free. A good spin off for other local businesses.

Anyway, I have large sweet mooli fritters with XO sauce garlic and shrimp to deal with. And then sweetcorn fritters. The latter packed to bursting with nuggets of sweetcorn and also made with mooli, but with a sweeter flavour than the plain not-vanilla versions.

We’re discussing here why the south side of Glasgow suddenly seems to be bursting with great little restaurants or cafes. There’s Ranjit’s Kitchen of course and Pot Luck about half away a mile away from here and a block or two on the right of that Tempura Kiro where I was last week. They’re all small, slightly homespun, probably lower rent, yet they have that hands-on personal feel that it takes to ignite the internet touch paper today.

Now, I’ll switch table sides when the other seat becomes free – who likes to sit with their back to the door and especially a door where there’s non-stop activity – and order up the tamarind pork belly and mushrooms for a tenner.

READ MORE: Potluck, Nithsdale Road, Glasgow

The main courses, or larger dishes as it always is nowadays, include a laksa, sambal fried hake and a nasi goreng. At first I’m not sure about this tamarind pork. Given the fireworks with all three dishes I’ve already eaten and the deft well thought-out balance to the flavours there’s not much punch to these mushrooms in soy, but the simple strips of pork are so heavily and sweetly marinated they could be a snack by themselves.

When it comes to paying the bill I’ll be given a little silver box containing a card which has printed upon it a little bit of blurb about Julie’s Kopitiam and what the name means.

Normally I’m not big on blurbs and pretty much everything you need to know about this cafe is on Facebook. But the word means 'small local eatery' in Malaysian. Which you may have already known. It also now means a successful eatery in Glasgow.

Julie’s Kopitiam

1109A Pollokshaws Road


0141 237 9560

Menu: Malaysian dishes from Julie’s family recipes including coconut chilli kerabu salad, sambals and nasi gorengs. Interesting. 4/5

Atmosphere: Without the buzz it would be a tiny, pretty plain cafe, but with the buzz it’s definitely one of the hottest venues in Glasgow. 4/5

Service: Very personable, friendly and relaxed service despite the fact everybody is cheek to jowl and it’s going like a fair. 5/5

Price: Small dishes £5 to £6 main courses a tenner or thereabouts. Good value. 4/5

Food: The dishes have been well thought-out and not only look good but are packed with flavour. A menu worth exploring. 8