Nonya is latest addition to Finnieston dining scene to raise Glasgow restaurant game
- Rory McGinley
- 3 July 2018
The east rises in the west
If the Finnieston revolution has reached its peak (surely the claims of 'up and coming' can now be firmly laid to rest), Nonya is perhaps its first postmodernist incarnation. Its culinary underpinning is rooted in Thai, Malay and Chinese cuisine, a disparate mix that finds settlement in the fact Nonya achieves a sense of cohesion in its bold, imaginative and creative food.
The conversion of the building, formerly the Scullery, took around six months – testament to the substantial renovation and the owners' wish to have an open-plan kitchen. Nonya's ownership tells its own story: head chef Gina Hopkins has a strong grounding in some of London's top restaurants, front-of-house is headed by Andy Kelly, formerly of, among others, Stravaigin, while the third operator is John Burns, owner of Bloc+ – a formidable triumvirate indeed.
Menu design is refreshing in its simplicity, separated into bar snacks and small or large plates, with clipped descriptions that belie the serious consideration given to dish creation. Red braised pork belly is a bowl of sticky goodness that speaks of a kitchen that knows how to properly impart flavour to a frequently over-used cut. The ingredient profile includes star anise, bay leaf, chilli, cinnamon, ginger and Shaoxing rice wine – all coming through to make for a stand-out dish. Equally impressive is Lao sausage, where minced pork shoulder with a decent fat content is seasoned with lemongrass, chilli and lime, while otak otak hake, of Indonesian origin, is wrapped in charred bamboo leaf and steamed, sealing in the distinctive flavour of the spiced fish.
Nonya is indicative of trends in Glasgow's restaurant scene, as the city begins to fully realise the merits and joys of South-east Asian food. It comes close behind another popular outfit, Malaysian-focused Julie's Kopitiam, with similar success in converting the region's street-food culture to an informal and welcoming restaurant setting. It also illustrates the city's growing culinary status – Nonya and another newcomer, Gather by Zique, are fronted by chefs who established their respective reputations in London. These twinned features show Glasgow pushing and transcending its culinary boundaries, and Nonya, with its celebration of South-east Asian cuisine in all its hybridity, can surely think of itself at the forefront of this movement.
+ Innovative, forward-thinking food bursting with flavour
- Asparagus and bamboo shoot dumplings are a little heavy
Mon–Fri noon–3pm, 5–10.30pm; Sat/Sun noon–10.30pm. Average cost of two-course lunch/dinner: £20