About Ka Pao
Ka Pao in Glasgow is the second restaurant from the team behind the Ox and Finch, one of Glasgow’s most popular eateries. This second site showcases similar food in terms of the small plates style but focuses on South East Asian flavours. The team however are keen to say that this isn’t about ‘authentic’ recipes, rather their aim is to take influence from the signature tastes of Malaysia, Singapore, Vietnam and Thailand.
The restaurant itself is found in a beautiful Glasgow building, the Category A-listed Art Deco Botanic Garden Garage on Vinicombe Street, which is faced in green and white tiles and features impressive arched windows. With a capacity for 120 covers, this is a much bigger site than its sister restaurant, and the venue is found in the basement, which ensures a cosy atmosphere.
The name Ka Pao comes from the Thai word for holy basil, which hints at a menu packed full of fragrant herbs and spices. This bricks and mortar site isn’t the first taste of Ka Pao’s flavours however, as before opening the team brought their concept to Glasgow’s foodie crowd via a pop up that ran during 2018 at the Acid Bar at SWG3.
Johnathan MacDonald, owner and chef, has lived and worked in South East Asia, while some of his kitchen brigade were given the chance to travel through the region to gain practical experience ahead of the restaurant’s opening. Dishes they learned to master during their time overseas include chicken massaman curry, which is traditionally made with coconut milk and warm spices like cinnamon, cardamom and nutmeg.
The menu changes regularly but typically will include serves such as messy prawns with orange, tamarind and palm sugar caramel; a squash and potato curry with cardamom, cumin and coconut and a slow-cooked pork cheek dish served with shiitake mushrooms, star anise and galangal.