Ting Thai Caravan


BOOM! I see a waitress shoot out from that mobbed open kitchen at the back, tray piled high with cute hey-it's-street-food-man cardboard boxes and heading straight to our high table. Anticipation soars.

Screech. Suddenly she brakes, dips her shoulder, swivels right and weaves off instead towards one of those high tables at the bottom overlooking West Nile Street, diner faces turning as one to guide her in.

Anticipation drops. But only for a second. Boom, boom, boom. Now there are three more trays rocketing from the kitchen. One of these is ours, I shout to Mark and Lyndsay who are actually sitting just two feet away on high stools at the other side of this polished wooden table.

Uh, they reply, struggling to hear over the high octane music blasting at high volume that no doubt provides the corporate energy that fuels the young skinny staff as they zip about at high speed.

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Moments later, boxes delivered, the usual server chit-chat cut to a refreshing zero, we’re unwrapping chopsticks, flipping lids, pulling flat pad Thai noodles, crumbled peanuts a-crumbling, tamarind a-tanging and soft palm sugar fighting man-a-mano with nam-pla fish sauce as the Thai taste wars begin.

Look, I shout, there’s a queue now. And sure enough, out there on Drury Street, even though it’s only 6.30pm, a line of people are waiting for tables to free up in this matt black super minimalist interior.

Ooh, the mussels in the Pad Ka-Phrao are seasoned properly, the green beans chopped, chill seed dotted over the jasmine rice and the whole thing liberally glugged with oyster sauce; the strips of grilled pork in the Yam Moo Yang are crisped righteously at the edges, and there are no chewy bits. This is drenched in chilli, garlic and shallot yet zinging with the acidy, salady flavours of nam yam.

Despite being at a small table that will end up laden with choice, both of these dishes will consistently draw our chopsticks back like Eastern culinary magnets.

Three dishes in anyway, and already it’s clear the food is like the music, big, bold, super brash, in-your-face-and therefore impossible to ignore. Is this the spirit of the backpackers of the world transferred from, umm, Edinburgh – where Ting Thai has been a thing for years – and given an inevitable Glasgow makeover that probably involved paying a designer to paint the whole place in gloomy and expensive matt colours and make the signs very small in a moodily chic way?


I gesture towards the box of Kai Look-Kuey Son-In-Law that’s just sizzled in with a second consignment of food and see Lindsay and Mark look down in suspicion.

It’s just boiled eggs, I say, deep fried to give it that skin of old man wrinkliness with shallots and that blood red stuff smeared across the top is chilli jam. I’m convincing nobody here.

I pop the first down, really good stuff this; a second inevitably following and then as the third is sitting alone I have it too whilst noticing that the fourth, which I could easily have had, lies nibbled but unloved on the other side of the table. Sacrificed on the alter of polite keep-fat-Ron happy gesture eating. Aw.

Still, we worked our way through Cap Moo. Looking like giant Skips – those puffed PK snacks – and tasting a bit like them too, but with more of the oomph you’d expect from actual, genuinely, puffed pork skin.

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The Yam Sam Krob has some of that vibe too but doused this time with lime and fired up with prawn for – and I have to double check the price of this – just £3.80.

Now, price isn’t everything but as we are surrendering our table to the next in line and heading out blinking into the comparative calm of a sunny September evening in a busy Glasgow city centre I’ll be shaking my head at the bill. Crikey that was cheap.

Ting Thai Caravan

19 West Nile Street


Menu: Edinburgh’s South East Asian street food star opens in Glasgow. Not as exotic as when it hit the Edinburgh Festival a decade ago but interesting. 4/5

Service: Fast moving, super-efficient Thai chefs keep dishes flowing fast from the open kitchen and then to the table. There ain’t much time for chat but that’s generally a good thing. 4/5

Atmosphere: Phew, it’s very loud. And fast. And the small tables fill up with cardboard containers and ceramic dishes and gloop and you probably won’t linger, but it’s a vibe. 4/5

Price: You’ll struggle to spend more than £6 on any dish and many don’t even hit £4. This is very good value. 5/5

Food: It sometimes looks thrown together at great speed yet the flavours are there and the ingredients sound. The Pad-Ka Phrao was a hit, Yam Moo Yang too. 6/10