THE summer rain comes pouring down all across this waterlogged land, but I’m inside, with soft-shelled crab right in my pudgy hand. Ah, the soft-shelled crab. It’s August. It’s Glasgow. The family is in Italy. Frank Sinatra was on in the car before and his voice still sloshes moodily round my head while I sit alone in a little corner table at SameSame musing on the simple, unsung joy of solo dining.

Sure, when I came in I had to resist a waitress’s very firm attempt to propel me onto a lonely-boy leper table out there in some Godforsaken part of that foyer; then we had a bit of a fandango when I saw heaped platters going elsewhere and did enough mental menu arithmetic to dully realise that I must have ordered from the bloody tourist version.

And so we all reverse ferret (kitchen, too, unfortunately), waitresses return, I chop, change and add even more dishes. Sigh, says everyone else. The last dish I order up by pointing at a passing dish and saying: one of them, please.

This bring a warning: “Are you sure? It has fish.” I will then perversely refuse all offers of rices, of noodles, of soft drinks, of knives and of forks and sink slowly into the chitter-chatter and family laughter coming from the two very large round tables filled with people I assume to be from the city’s Chinese community. They are celebrating, if my ear-wigging skills are any good, today’s Higher results.

It can be joyful eating alone. True, communication has been a tad awkward so far – mainly because my language skills are not up to much – but also because it’s buzzy and boomy, sounds wash back and forth across this staggeringly plain-Jane dining room with hard walls and art so bad it’s actually good. Also because I can't make out what the staff are saying beneath those black masks that seem to stretch all the way up to eye level.

But the food? I haven’t had soft-shell crab this biscuity crisp, this sweetly white since the late lamented Asia Style closed its doors on this very spot many years ago. Memories flood back of many a thrilling meal somewhere in here (the layout has changed) while minced, mulched and zingy garlic and chilli crumb slides, bounces, tumbles all over the shop and I greedily lift crab limb after limb pausing only to furrow my brow over tonight’s pressing problem: a full-size serving spoonful of Malaysian chicken and potato curry next?

Or will I toss caution to the wind, stand up on this battered wooden table and dive head first into that glistening platter of Kangkung Belacan also known as, well many things, including Kangkung Morning Glory or river spinach. This is the dish that apparently contains the scary fish and that is, of course, in that shrimpy, salty, krill paste marinated for months and famously spooned into a searing pan with chilli and other delights as heaps of sub-aquatic river spinach with stalks like celery are searing joyfully. Is it fishy? Nah. Is it fabulous? Yes.

This is probably for four people but I’m all alone and nobody is watching so I shamelessly finish it while interspersing it with strips of salt and pepper pork chop and spoonfuls of that lush, fragrant and pretty delicious curry, and marinated tofu that is one of the few good dishes from the aforementioned tourist menu.

Why tofu gets a bad press when there are friable, golden cubes out there that pop in the mouth to release juices of lemon and honey, and ginger, I dunno. Of course into each meal some rain must fall and here it’s in the shape of the Firecracker Chicken, the Honey Chilli Shredded Chicken and actually that slightly tired salt and pepper pork all from the tourist menu. Meh.

No Rishi’s Meal Deal here, incidentally, they’ve not signed up I’m told. Never mind, I’m happy to pay full-fat full price.

SameSame Chinese Malaysian Restaurant

185-189 St George’s Road


0141 332 8828

Menu: Full-fat Malaysian with that great Chinese-Indian flavour mix including soft-shelled crab, Kangkung Belacan or Morning Glory, three roasts and plenty more. 4/5

Service: Always hard with language difficulties and now there are masks thrown into the mix, but got the stuff to the table fast and efficiently and I was definitely hard work. 4/5

Price: Most main platters to serve three or four people seem to be £12 however there is a touristy menu with dishes at £6.95 which isn’t what it’s all about. No Govt discount when reviewed. 3/5

Atmosphere: Redefining plain. White wall, some kitschy art, wooden tables and floors. All the colour comes from food and customers. 3/5

Food: Great soft-shelled crab is back in Glasgow and that Kankung Belacan platter was a joy to eat. They make their own tofu and their own Chinese roasts in house. 8/10