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All packed for taste of paradise; South-east Asian restaurant takes stressed-out Anna on exotic adventure.

Byline: Anna Burnside

It was a dreich Saturday evening. I had spent the whole day packing up my kitchen. Every available surface, corner, corridor and chair was covered with boxes, bags, appliances and stuff.

I was stiff, grimy, grumpy and starving.

Shower, new dress, lipstick and Uber later, I was in a corner table at Nonya, a new south-east Asian restaurant and cocktail bar at the eastern fringe of the Finnieston strip. Lovely kind people brought me epic vodka and tangerine cocktails and popped by to check I was OK.

Sinorita called to say she was lost and only had one per cent left on her phone. As I got up to wave in the street, the manageress persuaded another guest to lend me an umbrella while two other women having a jolly dinner drooled over my frock. It's that kind of place.

A bowl of fried cashews with lime leaves and chillis arrived and, almost as quickly, were gone. They should probably be illegal. The first part of the menu is called "bar snacks". Some are obviously designed to keep a cocktail company - the dangerous nuts, chicken wings, dumplings, skewered chicken hearts with satay sauce.

We ordered the house pickles and a celery and peanut salad, both of which would be a bit slobbery for nibbling from a high stool but they merged seamlessly and happily with our larger dishes.

Anyone who has been to Thailand, Malaysia or Singapore will get all nostalgic at the sight of Nonya's menu. One mouthful of green papaya salad and I'm 21 and waiting on a bus to Bangkok. Its tart, salty pleasures are best enjoyed in high humidity and the fug of tuktuk exhausts but this worked pretty well on a dreary Glasgow night.

For the full Golden Triangle experience, the papaya salad should be eaten with laab and sticky rice. This was not possible when I was a young vegetarian. As an old omnivore in a restaurant with a bottomless rice policy, I made up for lost time.

Laab is minced meat, poached in broth, served with raw cabbage and fresh herbs. The meat here, ox heart, was on the chewy side. A bigger issue was the badly chopped herbs. Mint is an aggressive piece of greenery and, if left in big chunks, it dominates a dish. This was as loud and overbearing as Christine in Two Doors Down.

Sinorita wanted to try the aubergine with boiled egg, on the basis that everyone in London is putting aubergines with miso, fish sauce or obscure chilli paste. These ones arrived hiding behind even more of the scarcely-chopped mint. It was a chewy distraction from the slithery, salty aubergines and threw off the balance of the dish. She also fancied the rare onglet with lemongrass, chilli and herbs. Here, the kitchen was on firmer ground. The coriander and mint could still have been finer but there was less of it and the steak, caramelised onions and chilli rings, mounted a brave fightback.

The steak went particularly well with the pickled carrot, cucumber and peanut in a sweet, oily sauce from the bar snacks menu. We kept the crunchy celery and boiled peanuts as a mouth-cooler between the more aggressively heated dishes.

Such as the chicken curry, a home-style dish of fat hunks of thigh meat in a runny, denselyspiced sauce. It saturated the jasmine rice and was thankfully free of clumpy foliage. It went surprisingly well with a cocktail.

When the tangerine dream was finished I requested a gin-based conction be made with vodka instead. Immediately an anxious young man whizzed over to explain there was no direct substitute for their own lemongrass-infused gin. Would I be prepared to try it with the curry leaf vodka instead? Well, if you insist.

There is a lot to love in Nonya.

The chef is a woman, as are most of the staff. As well as talking knowledgeably about obscure green veg, they are kind and welcoming. At no point did I feel awkward for arriving early and drinking gin because my kitchen was a guddle. When it looked as if I was in for a long wait, she sent over a plate of cashews.

It looks lovely, styled with Asian references that are not red tassels or brass Buddhas. The back room is beautiful, with a ceiling covered in different bamboo light fittings.

The niggles should be easy to fix.

Fine tune the laab (possibly with a more pliable meat). Get a coffee machine and that bonkers red bean fudge they make for dessert in Thailand (We had to make do with a pot of tea and more drinks). And chop the fecking herbs.

Tel: 0141 221 6200. Disabled access: Yes.

Opening hours: 12 noon-3pm, 5pm-10.30pm Bill for two: PS71.50. Food: 6/10 - Concept strong, delivery needs just a few adjustments.

Looks great. Service: 4/5 - Delightful. Toilets: 4/5 - Thoughtfully and tastefully done. Value for money: 3/5 - Food well priced. Easy to go nuts with the drinks.

Anna's Hot Plate leaders' table .BABA 24/30 130 George Street, Edinburgh EH2 4JZ .Gather 23/30 66 Hyndland Street, Glasgow G11 5PT .mon adh kitchen 23/30 19 New Kirk Road, Glasgow, G61 3SJ .leiper's att ic 21/30 93-95 Hyndland Street, Glasgow G1 5PU .BASTA PIZZA 21/30 561 Dumbarton Road, Glasgow G11 6HU .NICK'S PIZZA BAR & CAFE 20/30 15 Back Wynd,Aberdeen AB10 1JN . Brod ies 20/30 1-2 Altrive Place, Holm St, Moffat DG10 9EB . Bistro Deluxe 20/30 81 Holyrood Road Edinburgh EH8 8AU .NICK'S PIZZA BAR & CAFE 20/30 15 Back Wynd,Aberdeen AB10 1JN .Pizz a East 20/30 575 Duke Street, Glasgow, G31 3PY .Sabot eur 20/30 19-20 Teviot Place Edinburgh EH1 2QZ . The Citizen 19/30 24 St Vincent Place, Glasgow . The BacH 19/30 31 Meadowside, Dundee DD1 3DE . HARMONIUM 19/30 60 Henderson Street, Leith EH6 6DE . Finsb ay18/30 44 Main Street, Milngavie, Glasgow . Black Iv y18/30 4 Alvanley Terrace Edinburgh EH9 1DU . The Iv y On The Square18/30 6-8 St Andrews Square, Edinburgh EH2 2BD . MEZZIDAKIA18/30 73 St Vincent Street, Glasgow G2 5TF . Pie & Brew 19/30 129 Bath Street, Glasgow G2 2SZ . NAM TUK 18/30 2 Partickbridge Street, Glasgow, G11 6PL . VAPIANO 14/30 235 Buchanan Street Glasgow G1 2NG

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THAI-LIGHTS Anna and friend enoyed papaya salad, chicken curry and cocktails galore at Nonya
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Title Annotation:Features
Publication:Daily Record (Glasgow, Scotland)
Article Type:Restaurant review
Geographic Code:4EUUK
Date:Apr 21, 2018
Words:1072
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