RIGHT at the end of this meal the waitress will come up to the table and, full of expectation, will ask: did you eat anything new tonight? So completely surprising is this question that for a moment we’ll bumble and fumble with umms and arrs and errs before I’ll mumble and stumble … “Nope. Don’t think so.”

Wrong answer. Completely wrong answer. I can see surprise in her face and by the time she’s off to get change for the tip I’ll remember oh, hang, on we did. There were those Renken Lotus Root Kushi-Katsu and the chicken and spring onions ones too. Never had either before. Hope never to have them again.

The Lotus Root one looked like a giant potato smiley-face kebab, in Panko breadcrumbs and deep fried, but with a texture somewhere between styrofoam and cardboard.

The Chicken and Spring Onion ones were harder to call as they were even more over-cooked in the fryer, and I would venture they’d crossed the line into burnt.

Actually, we’d never had Tebasaki Chicken Wings with Oni Demon Sauce. The wings themselves looked like catering pack wings always look - big, pointy tips and the in-house extra fiery hot sauce sprinkled with sesame seeds just made them very hot, with really no flavour. At all.

The menu does warn they are fiery and there are mild Sweet Soy and Sesame versions also available. But really? I’m pretty sure that nowadays we could find most of this stuff if not on this very street then certainly elsewhere in the city.

Though that’s not the point. The point is that Mikaku here is supposed to be a Japanese Izakaya-style pub. Where strong drink is taken and snacks are available throughout. Though perhaps unsurprisingly it has been interpreted on the paper place-mat menu as the Japanese version of, wait for it, tapas.

Cue deep sigh. Is there a cuisine in the world that as yet remains un-tapas-ed by enterprising British restaurateurs? Answers on a chopstick please. In some time zone somewhere there’s surely a place selling pie n’ beans, sausage rolls and cheese and onion crisps labelled: Authentic Tartan Tapas.

As for the Japanese workers bar look? Squeezed in almost half way down Glasgow’s kiss-me-quick Queen Street? Yes, there’re some neon lights action, exposed beams, wooden tables, a mural and a tad problematically in the atmosphere department: Taylor Dayne blasting out Tell It To My Heart on the sound system.

We catch them at a bad time too when we wander in, as there is no Chicken Karage left and in fact no gas, so for a while no soft drinks, and no bottled Melon Soda or Grape Soda either.

“Imported,” the waitress says as she sees my eyebrows hoist as they settle on the £4.50 price tag for these last two.

There is a chicken Katsu curry at £6.50 which my son likes and I think is perfectly fine if the rice-to-sauce ratio is a bit wonky, but like Karage nowadays hardly exotic given they’re available in Tesco and Sainsbury’s.

Gyoza Dumplings? These too have completely penetrated the British mainstream though whether these pleasant enough Bulgogi versions are made in here or not isn’t clear. We have two smallish bowls of Ramen at a very good value £4.50 each - full fat bowls are £9.50 - and the Miso Black with a couple of slices of chicken breast, noodles and a tangy, full-flavoured and pleasantly salty broth. This also comes studded with Mayu burnt garlic and for £2 extra an Aji-tamu soft boiled egg, still sweetly stickily, almost runny and marinated with Mirin and Soy sauce. It’s okay. And actually when we get the bill it will turn out to be pretty reasonable with those (not very good) skewers coming in at £1.50 each and the wings a slightly less impressive £4.90 for four. But apart from the claim to tapas fame there’s nothing here that’s cutting edge anymore. Or even that interesting.


Izakaya Restaurant

25 Queen Street


0141 221 0573

Opening: seven days all day

Menu: It’s modelled on a Japanese Izakaya bar with food theme, but most of the katzus, karages and gyozas are fairly mainstream. 3

Service: pleasant and fairly enthusiastic staff operating in a bar cum restaurant atmosphere. 4

Price: this is possibly it’s strongest point with Kushi Katsu Skewers from 31.25 each and reasonable value Ramen from £4.50

Atmosphere: think Japanese bar with a food a go-go, weirdly it feels more like an 80s British disco to me. 3

Food: Our skewers were overcooked, the Katzu failry ordinary, they do do a decent and full flavoured half bowl of ramen at a reasonable price. 5