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When Alfie Foodwala was a wee nipper, and we used to go on our annual summer trip to the ranch in deepest darkest Punjab, one of the treats we used to look forward to was the trips to restaurants with our grandparents, the highlight of our trip to Faislabad and Lahore was the when we used to go out for a Chinese, much the way going out for an “Indian” is in blighty.
We used to go to restaurants with exotic names as Dynasty, Nam Wa and the most exclusive of them all was the China Town, The China Town was with a resplendent seven-foot doorman (when you are wee they all look like giants) china man dressed like a Han warrior, how he handled the heat was beyond me.
We would sit in hushed silence as the server would bring steaming platters of Chinese sounding delicacies like Sweet and Hot chicken, Kung Pao Chicken, Peking mutton. Sichuan Shrimp and the and the old favourite, Chicken Corn Soup.
We used to dig into the delights of the Orient and imagine we were eating a banquet in the court of Ghengis Khan (I know wrong era and nationality, but humour me) and we loved the different flavours and textures, but what I remembered the most was how spicy the food was.
After that, it was hard-wired into my pre-adolescent brain that Chinese food was decadent and flavoursome and Spicy.
Now fast forward a few years when I actually visit China, we went for a meal in Hong Kong, we went into a typical Chinese restaurant in the Central Hong Kong next to the Mandarin Oriantal where we were staying.
I was absolutely famished due to travelling and flight delays, we walked into the nearest restaurant and much to my surprise the menu was in Cantonese, so after a few pointing at dishes being eaten by other diners we got our food, I was expecting the spice-laden Chinese food of China Town, but much to my confusion the food was bland, soupy and full of ingredients i definitely did not recognise.
I found out the hard way that the Chinese food we had in Pakistan and Mumbai was actually Indian food with Oriental names!!!!
This brings me to my visit to the newly opened Manasan, it is an Oriental Tapas Brasserie (possible identity confusion?)
It is an Instagram friendly Chinese/Thai restaurant housed in a bankrupt Steak restaurant, most of the “Industrial” style
fittings from the steak restaurant is still these with some Instagram friendly flowers added to the decor.
I kicked off the proceedings with some Cod and Haddock spring rolls. The spring rolls were delicious, the crispy pastry case held the generous fish filling, the filling was slightly spicy yet could still taste the delicate Cod and smoked Haddock.
Next up was the delightful nut and wasabi crusted Korean fried chicken, The thighs of chicken were fabulous, the crispy nutty batter gave a satisfying crunch as I bit down
into the succulent chicken thigh. proper delicious.
The Thai crab cakes were beautifully presented, however, it was more style over substance, the cakes were a little under seasoned and the light flavoured crab failed to shine through, but the lemongrass sauce and the oriental coleslaw was a lovely touch.
The Thai Green Monkfish Tail and Tiger Prawn was again presented artistically, the lemongrass-infused jus was punchy and flavoursome, the prawns were grilled on point,
however the Monkfish was cold in the centre, possibly they had pre-cooked it or did not cook it long enough, a slight disappointment in otherwise an excellent, fun effort.
Mamasan is an Oriental Thai Brasserie using some excellent Scottish produce, the menu was imaginative and delicious, If you are expecting some authentic Chinese food then this is definitely NOT
your cup of tea, It has been finessed for the Scottish palate
The decor was a little industrial, with some Instagram friendly lighting and foliage.
The Service was friendly and efficient, possibly they were a wee bit busy thus forgot some instructions and items, overall a good effort.
The Star of the Meal?
Definitely a close run between the Cod and Haddock Spring Rolls and the Korean Fried Chicken.
The miss of the Meal?
Not exactly a miss, but the Monkfish tail could have done with a little more attention, especially if you are paying £18.
So how did Mamasan compare with its Hybrid Oriental peers?
Bamboo Union and Gaia in Lahore definitely up there with the best, If not better due to there location and environment.
Buddha-Bar was amazing due to the brilliant food and Music
Mamasan is a brilliant addition to the Glasgow restaurant scene. brought to you by the veterans of Bar Soba.
The Chicken is confirmed Halal
Alcohol is served on the Premises
Pork is served but segregated.