Full of South-East Asian promise
Mamasan has opened on Ingram St filling the void left by steak restaurant Cau. It’s from the same people behind Bar Soba, where myself and Mrs Foodie had many a lunchtime date back in the day (there was also a Mamasan on Bath St years ago, although I don’t think we ever visited it).
This new restaurant can be thought of like Bar Soba so again Scottish-Asian fusion but this time levelled up. It’s an impressively roomy restaurant with a huge gantry behind the bar.
Mamasan. So what does it mean? I’m sure we all know the Japanese suffix ‘san’ – a sort of catch-all Mr, Mrs, Miss and Ms title and term of respect. While ‘mama’ does actually mean ‘mum’ in China and loads of other languages (go down the linguistics rabbit hole here).
So a mama-san is a woman in charge of a business or household. In Southeast Asia specifically, a mamasan is responsible for the running of bars. The term will have spread across Asia thanks to American soldiers stationed there in World War 2.
Comical portraits of Pon-Su-San AKA Chinese Girl AKA The Green Lady (you’ll know the painting when you see it) adorn the back left wall of the restaurant: blowing gum; with rollers in her hair; and stuffing her face with a doughnut.
Mamasan was also our first meal after lockdown so we were a bit apprehensive about how things would be but everything was surprisingly normal. Everyone seemed relaxed, we arrived, took our seats, ordered our food, devoured it then went up the road happy. But before that…
The menu begins with nibbles, nuts, edamame and oysters followed by a large selection of starters and mains.
Not listed on the menu but crunchy prawn crackers with a chilli dip were delivered to our table shortly after arriving and these were happily munched.
With such an impressive bar it made sense to start with a couple of cocktails, and with choices such as pistachio aviation, smoked popcorn and salted watermelon mojito it was a difficult choice.
And this is what we plumped for in the end:
Prosecco bubbles (£9)
Like bubble bath in a martini glass, this drink was made up of citrus vodka, elderflower, cranberry bitters and passionfruit with a spoonful of ‘Cointreau caviar’ on the side.
Coconut Old Fashioned (£10)
If you love whisky and coconut then here is your ideal drink, complete with a slice of dark chocolate bounty and made using chocolate bitters.
We had a bottle of house wine. There’s a selection, all priced between £19 – 25. The Archères Vermentino 2019 at £21 came recommended by staff. We weren’t familiar with this particular grape variety but can now confirm, after finishing a bottle, that it was very good. Peachy aroma. Citrus taste. Crisp and refreshing.
We shared our first couple of plates, which were…
Thai fried chicken (£7.50)
Sticky fried chicken. A crisp outer coating with moist chicken and a perfect balance of sweet and spicy. Big enough to share so this was wolfed down by both of us.
Northern Thai sausage bao bun (£7)
Thai sausage is pork mixed with things like galangal, turmeric, kaffir lime leaves and lemongrass, and these spiced slices of sausage were encased in two soft buns – so again ideal for sharing – with a crunchy and colourful pickled cabbage, warming sriracha and lime mayo.
Green curry of monkfish tail and tiger prawns (£18)
Thai Green chicken curry was my go-to dish in Bar Soba being my favourite place for the dish in Glasgow but this time Mrs Foodie ordered it. This was an excellent mix of our favourite Thai flavours with, for something new, meaty monkfish. We are big fans of curried fish and something we specifically seek out on Indian and South East Asian restaurant menus.
Red curry of roasted confit leg of duck (£16)
I do love confit, there is a confit duck parcels starter but I held off for the main course featuring confit duck leg and it did not disappoint. Meat falling off the bone and a warming red curry with fresh chillies and bok choy and baby corn for crunch.
Course sizes were large than expected so by this point we were both pretty full, but there’s always room for pudding and so…
Mango & papaya parfait (£8)
The Mrs had the smooth parfait with fresh fruit pieces and crunchy granola and puffed black rice. Creamy and light but with lots of granola on top and around the parfait so actually still a lot of eating if you devoured the lot. Despite the fresh fruit, the mango and papaya taste could have been stronger in the actual parfait.
Thai spiced chocolate cremaux (£7)
While I had the smooth cremaux. I always find that chocolate and acidic fruit goes well together. Here, burnt orange segments with served alongside a pineapple & passionfruit compote and peanuts for crunch so another smooth yet textured dessert, and plenty of it.
We have been fans of Bar Soba for well over a decade so it is perhaps no surprise that we enjoyed Mamasan too. Surprisingly large portions, all of the food was to our liking, making good use of spices to create fragrant, aromatic dishes rather than overly spicy dishes. Suppliers include Ramsay’s of Carluke for pork and John Vallance for fish & seafood. Service was excellent, especially for the wine suggestion and toilets were clean. We are planning on returning soon.
+ Unusual selection of cocktails
+ Great house wine and well-priced
+ Big portions (you won’t go home hungry)
+ Tasty, flavoursome food
– No obvious flaws
222 Ingram St,
The main restaurant is at ground level and all toilets are on the first floor but there is a lift.
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