Suissi Vegan Asian Kitchen


IS this what happens when a reluctant carnivore lumbers into an outpost of the Vegan Nation and starts going through the kitchen like a bear in search of honey?

“Wow, you’re a machine,” the cheery young waiter will say when he bounces over to my table at the end of the meal and scans the debris-strewn serving plates. A few bowls with dark and powerful dips lapping forlornly at the bottom of them; a heap of a dressed salad that I didn’t quite get to; strewn chilli flakes where once stood a mountain of crisped lotus root; a single brilliantly green strand of seaweed and one lost and lonely edamame bean on a vast platter.

Only a tangy, vinegary pool of a fiery liquid records that here was a bowl brimming with fine noodles, sweet potato, crisped tofu, fistfuls of coriander tossed on top, the addictively sour concoction sucked up in the only way possible: face thrust in bowl, noodles rammed in mouth, slurpity, slurp, ignoring the onlookers at other tables.

Aw, shucks, is what I should reply to the waiter’s suggestion, but with images of Monty Python's Mr Creosote suddenly flashing through my mind I laughingly protest: it’s vegan food. Vegetables, man. Like, really light. Nothing to it.

And there was nothing to it really. Sticky little Vietnamese rolls, stuffed with finely-chopped beansprouts, carrot, tofu, cabbage to start.

A deep, dark bowl with emerald green slices of stir-fried kale, nuggets of shining red chilli, chunks of ginger to slide in the chopsticks to pluck out the goodness. Those vegetable gyozo? Pan-fried to crispy crunchy in some parts, elastic and baggily delicious in others, pumpkin and cabbage of all things inside. The filling maybe a little bit bland, wet, but the gyozo themselves were very good.

I have been in many, many vegan restaurants in Glasgow and, frankly, many, many of them are simply, appallingly, awful, full of good intentions and shockingly bad ingredients: grim meat substitutes, ham-fisted cooking techniques, no respect given whatsoever to the actual vegetables themselves, many places popping up simply to ride the current vegan wave, but usually so small and fragile it would be cruel and pointless to review them before they are swept away by the relentless drain of overheads.

So, nothing is guaranteed to start a stampede for the kitchen window in my house than the casual suggestion that tonight we should pop out and maybe have some vegan food. Hence I’m here alone.

But, of course, it doesn’t need to be like that. The utter, unspeakable horror of what we do to animals aside, I’d say probably the best dishes I’ve eaten in any restaurant this year, and that includes a good few of the very best Michelin-starred variety, have been entirely vegetable.

Here at Suissi Vegan Vegetable Kitchen there is one thing that almost blows me away. Those lotus root crisps, big disks, friend in a batter so light the waiter and I stare at them and try and work out if it is indeed a batter or whether they are just dipped in seasoned rice flour or something. “I think it’s a flour batter," he says. "The gluten-free versions don’t look the same.”

Whatever it is they’re outstanding: freshly cooked, crisp yet slightly chewy, a more-ish nutmeggy tang that’s not nutmeg, chilli, salt: a full and fabulous flavour. I work my way through them like, um, a machine.

I also dip into the sweetly soured dish of seaweed with edamame beans which fully balances the flavours. These are the two best things I’ll eat tonight, properly seasoned.

OK, there’s a bit of salt police action going on with some dishes, a lot of tofu in certain sections of the menu, maybe a bit too many studenty hot pot dishes. But they’ve maybe done themselves a disservice putting the mainstream customer-repelling word vegan above the door. You certainly don’t need to be vegan to eat here. And that’s a very good sign.

Suissi Vegan Asian Kitchen

494 Dumbarton Road


0141 339 9331

Menu: None of the horror meat substitutes, not a vegan burger either, instead kale and chilli, fabulous lotus root crisps, tangy seaweed and edamame. Interesting. 4/5

Service: hard to fault. Friendly, chatty and open without being in your face. Improved the experience. 5/5

Atmosphere: Burbling jazz tunes, dark polished tables, candles a-flickering. Pretty generic feel but otherwise pleasant. 3/5

Price: Starters are around £4, mains not hugely more, excellent value and near that stretch of Dumbarton Road where the restaurants are creating a great Chinatown vibe. 5/5

Food: You don't need to be vegan to eat here. I loved the lotus root crisps, the seaweed and edamame, and even the gyozo. Generally a high standard of careful cooking with flavour. 8/10