Ka Pao Edinburgh, review

Visit to St James Quarter branch of this Glasgow restaurant

Within the St James Quarter, along from Bonnie & Wild is the Edinburgh branch of Ka Pao. The original Ka Pao can be found on Vinnicombe Street in Hillhead, Glasgow (and has been awarded a Bib Gourmand in the Michelin Guide 2022).

The shopping centre location can’t be changed, but inside the decor is inviting. The bar area at the front beckons a further visit just to sit and people watch. Delving further into Ka Pao, all thoughts of the shopping centre are removed as we sit at a table looking out into the Edinburgh night. Not the fanciest of views, but there is the sky and not shopfronts.

The menu at Ka Pao Edinburgh

Full menu

Lunch menu

Specials

What we ate and drank

A lemongrass negroni and a chilli passionfruit fizz (both £9 each). Both were a refreshing start to the meal. Again, I could easily see myself returning here for a cocktail or two.

The small plates menu means that the dishes come out as and when they are cooked. This also means trying to remember what you ordered when it comes out!

Arbroath smokie miang, galangal, spinach leaves and peanuts. The spice level in this one crept up on me, a moreish dish with each mouthful adding more spice. Mr C wasn’t so keen on the peanuts, but I liked the crunch.

Padron peppers with tamarind and soy. Will padron peppers ever go back to their original roulette? It seems like what is sold now although tasty, doesn’t have that change of a spicy one. These padrons, although not spicy, we smothered in umami goodness. One of those dishes you could easily sit and order bowl after bowl of.

Pork and bone. marrow chipolatas, coriander and shallots. These little guys pack a meaty punch, dip some into the padron sauce, do it!

fried chicken, fish sauce caramel and pickled banana chillis. Mr C was smitten. Moist chicken and crisp skin covered in a sweet and sour sauce. You’ll be wanting two portions of this.

Corn ribs, salted coconut, shrimp and lime. The corn ribs at Kao Pao have long been a fave of ours.

Fried brussels sprouts, soybean dressing. If you haven’t tried roasted or fried sprouts, do it. I couldn’t convince Mr C to try, his hatred of sprouts is that deep, however, that did mean they were all for me! Crispy, crunchy, salty and far too easy to munch.

Scallops, pomegranate, shredded cabbage, lime leaf and lemongrass. Seared scallops with a ceviche like dressing to the slaw. A refreshing palate cleanser amongst the sweet and salty dishes.

Cucumber salad, prik name pla and peanuts. A refreshing salad coated with Thai dipping sauce a balance of salt, sweet, sour and spicy.

Verdict

Thumbs up from both of us and Mr C is still talking about that chicken now.

Once you get away from the eating in a shopping centre feeling, then you’ll slip into the Ka Pao vibe. Cocktails and sharing plates for a relaxing evening. It’s a versatile venue, one that suits date nights, catch-ups and meetings

Hands on food in relaxed but suitably polished surroundings. Service was quick and friendly. Remember to get the chicken and the corn ribs.

Where

Ka Pao, Floor 4, St James Quarter, Edinburgh EH1 3AE

Book a table

Click here to book online

Emma

Emma

Hello!

I am Emma and with my husband Mark write Foodie Explorers, which is a food and travel website.

I am a member of the Guild of Food Writers and British Guild of Travel Writers.

We have a wide range of judging experience covering products, hotels and have judged, for example, for Great Taste Awards and Scottish Baker of the Year.

Along the way Mark gained WSET Level 2 in Wine and I have WSET Level 2 in Spirits as well as picking up an award with The Scotsman Food and Drink Awards.    

Usually I can be found sleeping beside a cat.

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