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Half Scottish, Half Malaysian, Julie Lin is one of Glasgow’s most famous chefs.
Her culinary journey started back in 2014 when she appeared on MasterChef, reaching the quarterfinals. It’s an experience that the chef described as a bit of a whirlwind in our interview with Julie Lin for Ayala.
Following her TV debut, she went on to work under the tutelage of Laurie Macmillan who owned and ran popular southside spot, Café Strange Brew. Here Julie says she was taught classic techniques and given traditional training thanks to Laurie’s experience at high-end restaurants. Leaving Café Strange Brew, Julie then went on to become head chef at nearby restaurant, Babu Kitchen, which has since closed.
Months later and she had her first pop-up, a tiny stand down a bin alley. Despite its location, Julie’s menu of Malaysian street food pulled in the punters and caused a queue every day it was open. With some solo success under her belt, she took the plunge and opened her first restaurant in 2017, Julie’s Kopitiam. With space for just a handful of diners, this small restaurant is cosy and casual and deals in big, bold flavours. Think plates piled high with nasi goreng or the house signature: buttery, flaky roti served with a creamy curry dip.
Fast-forward a few years and Julie was onto her next venture: A second restaurant opened in conjunction with the owners of nearby pub The Thornwood. The trio opened GaGa on Dumbarton Road in 2021. This popular spot serves lunch and dinner and has a broader menu than Julie’s Kopitiam, welcoming southeast Asian dishes in all their guises. Think prawn toast; Szechuan chicken wings; pork belly curry; and an Indonesian hot dog for mains as well as fun takes on classic desserts like a sundae topped with sesame caramel, mango sauce and peanuts.