VERY rebellious, I tell my reluctant teenage son as I drag him out for tea at the scandalous hour of 9pm. On a school-night too. A Monday no less. Needs must when the devil drives. Or to be more accurate when Facebook is so agog with excitement about Ka-Pao that this is the only internet-booking slot I can get for a table. All week.

Reluctance only overcome by the promise that this definitely ain’t a vegan restaurant we cross a comatose Vinicombe Street, passing a giant new and deathly quiet Nando’s before descending beneath it into a basement where life flickers alluringly behind counter intuitively placed glass doors.

The air becomes charged with the scent of money and newness and laced with the wham, bam of South East Asia, or to be more precise, the whiff of nam-pla. Orders glow on iPads bolted to the edge of a shiny new stainless steel kitchen, where shiny new chefs hustle dishes to shinier still wait-people who bustle like baby bees around this cavernous room to us shiny breathless customers glowing within at the simple fact that we may be in on the basement (literally) of something new. And Instagrammable. Sigh. Such is the modern restaurant business.

After this build up you’ll be expecting disappointment. Hey. We do try. Ordering first from the grosser bits of the menu: bone marrow and shiitake fried rice (£6), salt and pepper oyster mushrooms with mooli (£6); fried chicken spicy caramel (£6); hispi cabbage, nut butter and srirarcha (£7).

Small plates = big bills is my usual mantra and this restaurant being the spawn of the consistently successful Ox and Finch people and the development of a buzzy pop-up of the same name, we’re not expecting cheap. Or big. Wrong on both counts.

The whole, halved hispi cabbage sprawls across its plate like a fat and fish-free plaice, full of spice and substance, meaty yet light, peppered with those delicious nuggets of crispy fried onion. The chicken is simply sweet and sour balls for the culinary right-on generation, but the meat is super-moist, the batter diaphanous and if the caramel could do with a bit more pep we still eat it all up.

There’s a pause while mushroom-averse Luca holds up a trumpet of oyster mushroom from the heaped dish and says: I thought I’d hate this. Actually? It’s really crisp, deliciously dryly-spiced, un-mushroomy. Clever. Plate cleared.

But most praise is reserved for that fried rice. Wow. I could eat this all day, simple, yet an ever deepening tunnel of tastes.

There were giant puffed pork skins too (£3) with a heap of conversation-stopping, stealthily and then searingly-hot mashed green chilli. Those corn ribs (cob quarters) charred on the grill, draped with salted coconut, shrimp and lime (£4.50) that were such a crowd pleaser in the pop-up, once again have me spooning the remnants from the serving dish long after we’ve stripped off the kernels.

But stop the bus for a moment lest you get the impression that it’s all stunningly cheap. There’s a hunk of sea trout in a curry with crab, Krachai, coconut and lemon grass (£14.50) where the staff try more than once to entice us into a jasmine rice to accompany it (£2). The fish is fresh, firm and cooked to a righteous pink, the curry sweetly coconutty but it’s a combo that totters riskily towards unbalanced.

A separate dish of mackerel with burnt tomato sambal and morning glory (£12) or stir-fried Thai vegetables is less successful; the fish being punched clear out the plate by the powerful sambal. One of the few problems I thought with the pop-up was that the service was just a little bit too breathlessly (annoyingly) excited by the whole venture. Not so here where we’re served in an easy fashion throughout.

Yes, that clever menu may run into trouble from the sourcing police but these are ka-pow flavours, knock-out fun; a winner.


26 Vinicombe Street


0141 483 6990

Menu: Wham, bam, thank you, Tam, mash-up of South Asian flavours and hip and happening Instagram presentation grabs the attention and the tastebuds. Chill combos, fun flavours. 5/5

Service: Less breathlessly excited than the pop-up that preceded this and much better for it. Cool, calm and if a bit too keen on topping up the filtered water it’s totally free so can’t complain. 5/5

Atmosphere: In a lavishly fitted out basement in the recently rescued Botanic Gardens Garage, and all a-buzz with Instagrammable moments. Even on a schoolnight. 5/5

Price: Those corn ribs, the puffed pork, the hispi cabbage are all bargain basement prices but you can easily pay full-fat prices for the trout and other dishes. Good value overall 4/5

Food: They may fall foul of the sourcing police but the flavours are exactly as the name says, powerful, stimulating. Bone marrow fried rice, the Hispi, the sea trout curry come recommened. 8/10