Street food bursts out from its exotic enclave in Glasgow and Edinburgh

Enjoy casual pan-Asian dining at restaurants including Bar Soba, Tuk Tuk and The Hanoi Bike Shop

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Street food bursts out from its exotic enclave in Glasgow and Edinburgh

From the crowded streets of Cambodia to the hustling alleys of Singapore, street food is an everyday occurrence for millions of people. Something that’s so mundane (to them) as a pandan pudding in Kuala Lumpur or a kimbap in Seoul suddenly becomes trendy and exciting when introduced to a set of new palates and perceptions on the other side of the globe.

The concept in the UK has taken a slight detour in terms of presentation. Instead of hurried street vendors hawking their wares, the realities of climate and eating habits means these foods are brought inside, whether to supplement an existing restaurant menu, liven up a takeaway menu or to spark up a bar snacks offer. In urban Scotland, Bar Soba is one example of a venue that has latched onto the appealing combination of beer and pan-Asian street food, developing the concept over a decade ago in the centre of Glasgow, and more recently in outlets in Glasgow’s West End and Edinburgh’s New Town, mixing the energy of humid South-East Asian streetlife with the popularity of casual, small-plate eating and the rise of the indie bar.

It is common for food to follow people, as has been marked over the decades with well established Chinese and Indian cuisines in many parts of the world. Yet these genres, as well as some of the more traditional Thai styles, are becoming hackneyed in comparison to less formal expressions of their cuisine, as testified by the popularity of casual eateries such as Ting Thai Caravan or Tuk Tuk. In addition, lesser-known nationalities have pushed their way forward, even from relatively small bases in terms of immigrant populations. Koreans and Malaysians have achieved a dynamic local foothold in restaurants such as Edinburgh’s Kampung Ali Malaysian Delight – now making a bigger deal of its street food offer, and Ong Gie in Tollcross with its table-top grills. Likewise, Scots themselves are bringing back the flavours they’ve experienced while abroad: The Hanoi Bike Shop in Glasgow’s Ruthven Lane or Saiko Kitchen in Marchmont in Edinburgh being two of the more impressive local examples.

Informal eating opportunities, lively flavours, open-minded diners: the stage is set for pan-Asian street food to grow and grow. It’s just a shame our often cold, wet streets aren’t playing their part.

Bar Soba

104 Hanover Street, Edinburgh, EH2 1DR

Pan-Asian street food in a club-like environment with dedicated vegetarian and gluten-free menus.

Bar Soba

116–122 Byres Road, Glasgow, G12 8TB

A buzzing West End bar-diner serving inventive Pan-Asian food in a relaxed setting, with a genuine eye to the needs of diners.

Bar Soba

11 Mitchell Lane, Glasgow, G1 3NU

Great value Pan-Asian street food, beers and cocktails, all served in a design-conscious hangout with live DJs four nights a week.

The Hanoi Bike Shop

8 Ruthven Lane, Glasgow, G12 9BG

Down a lane off Byres Road, the only dedicated Vietnamese restaurant in town offers taste-crammed food with a creative and individual twist.

Kampung Ali Malaysian Delight

97–101 Fountainbridge, Edinburgh, EH3 9QG

Located just off Lothian Road, a fun and friendly spot to enjoy good quality Malaysian cuisine Takeaway review Takeaway is available from both branches of the Kampung mini-empire on Clerk Street and Fountainbridge, so if Malaysian floats your boat (and…

Ong Gie

22a Brougham Place, Edinburgh, EH3 9JU

Friendly indoor Korean barbecue in ethnic cuisine hotspot of Tollcross.

Saiko Kitchen

15 Roseneath Street, Edinburgh, EH9 1JH

Bright, breezy, funky joint serving wholesome and vibrantly flavoured pan-Asian street foods at reasonable prices.

Ting Thai Caravan

8–9 Teviot Place, Edinburgh, EH1 2QZ

Delicious, no-frills, street-food style Thai restaurant that’s easy on your budget but big on fun and flavour.

Tuk Tuk

1 Leven Street, Edinburgh, EH3 9LH

Quirky and casual Indian street food restaurant, serving small plates tapas-style with a Bollywood twist to the décor.

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