Ka Pao

South East Asian·
Bronze Award
Glasgow, , G12 8BE ·Website·Call0141 483 6990

SquareMeal Review of Ka Pao

Bronze Award

Situated in what is the oldest surviving motor garage in Glasgow, Ka Pao has found its home in the basement of the expansive space which once serviced the city’s grandest vehicles.

With Ka Pao’s chefs now firmly in the driving seat, the restaurant serves up a selection of South East Asian sharing plates in a similar style to those found at the site’s sister restaurant, the Ox & Finch (which is just down the road in Finnieston). The hearty sharing portions are a tried-and-tested formula which have proved popular with locals, and loyalists of the mini restaurant group have ensured this new space has been packed every night since opening.

Split into various ‘zones’, the interiors are vast and buzzing, with excited chatter from the wall-to-wall guests seated among the foliage-filled industrial style decor. Despite the screens, partitions and booth seating cutting up the room, the noise levels are at some points excessive, so definitely a place to enjoy a meal with mates rather than that special someone you’re trying to impress. Cocktails flow here too, with the dedicated bar shaking up Insta-worthy sips that are fun and fruity, if a little sweet at times.

Despite seeming well meaning, the service is inconsistent, with no one member of staff employed to serve a single space or table, which leads to confusion and a slow pace at times.

When it does come, a snack-size plate of crab and coconut on a crispy rice cracker is fragrant and satisfying. Elsewhere salt-and-pepper oyster mushrooms bring that intense savoury hit of the crowd-pleasing Chinese classic. This plant-based iteration is pleasingly meaty in texture and tongue-tingling from the addition of Szechuan pepper.

Elsewhere, messy prawns with tamarind and palm sugar are a little lacklustre, as is the spicy caramel fried chicken, which is sweet and vinegary but needs more deep heat or savoury richness.

Corn ‘ribs’ make corn on the cob more appealing than your typical veg side and bone marrow rice is wonderfully rich and one of the best things we ate on our visit. So good in fact, that we nearly wished we had ordered a bowl of the stuff all to ourselves.

Good to know

Average Price
££££ - £30 - £49
South East Asian
Cool, Fun, Lively
Food Occasions
Dinner, Lunch
Special Features
Vegan options, Vegetarian options
Perfect for
Birthdays, Dates


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.


Botanic Gardens Garage , 26 Vinicombe Street, Glasgow, G12 8BE

0141 483 6990 0141 483 6990


Opening Times

All day
Mon 12:00-00:00
Tue 12:00-00:00
Wed 12:00-00:00
Thu 12:00-00:00
Fri 12:00-00:00
Sat 12:00-00:00
Sun 12:00-00:00


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0141 483 6990 0141 483 6990

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