GaGa Glasgow, Restaurant Review – Scotsman Food and Drink

GaGa Glasgow, Restaurant Review – Scotsman Food and Drink

It’s that time of year again where we reflect and start over with new decisions, whether it’s starting a new hobby, trying vegan or simply taking more time for yourself.

This state of change and flux may also apply to Glasgow’s Dumbarton Road, located at the western end of the city.

Traditional pubs, hardware stores, tailors and barbers sit next to coffee shops, brunch places and health food cafés.

The last almost two years have been a challenge, and there are a few companies that have unfortunately bitten into the dust, while others have thrived and grown. One of these is GaGa, which opened on Dumbarton Road in late 2021.

GaGa is a collaboration between Julie’s Kopitiam owner Julie Lin, and Marc Ferrier and Ken Hamilton of the nearby institution The Thornwood plus Ken’s son Fraser Hamilton, who ran the Sweet Liberty cocktail bar in Miami Beach, which was voted one of the world’s 50 best bars in 2018.

GaGa started life as GaGa Chicken, a pop-up street food offering at Ronnie’s Bar and Bike Shop, which opened in Galvaniser’s Yard at SWG3 in the summer of 2020 in response to the covid restrictions at the time.

Julie also ran a pop-up by Kopitiam at the Acid Bar on the venue, so a permanent move west would have come as a welcome message to those who love the original south-facing restaurant.

Located on the site of Six Degrees North, which closed in May, GaGa promises innovative cocktails created by Fraser and an exciting Southeast Asian-inspired menu created by Julie, which draws on her in-depth knowledge of Asian cooking from her Malaysian mother.

We book for a cold and wet Friday in mid-December, and despite the ongoing talk of further covid restrictions, we find the place busy enough to feel almost normal (but with decent social distancing for those affected ).

Photo: John Devlin

GaGa is a much larger and spacious place than the cozy Kopitiam, and has a bar and seating area on one side and cabins on the other, with floor-to-ceiling doors and windows in front, which I suspect will be fully opened in the summer months.

The menu includes small and larger portions of plates, as well as side dishes and desserts along with an extensive selection of cocktails arranged in flavors such as juicy, effervescent, straight up tumor and coffee.

To toast the evening, we opted for a banana-sesame sour and ole-fashioned – a twist on the classic, featuring Cuban rum and Spanish brandy instead of whiskey. It was smooth with enough spice and sweetness to reflect the season.

The banana sesame acid is another update on a classic with, as you could imagine, banana and sesame oil, which gives an exciting taste of summer in the middle of winter.

On to the food, which arrives as it is ready. We started with shrimp toast with Kewpie mayo (£ 9) – a mini-fried sandwich filled with Japanese mayonnaise and shrimp, topped with chili oil.

Despite the fact that it looks saturated with oil, the bread is crispy and balances well with the creamy filling. The chili oil is sprinkled with peanuts that provide texture and the bite comes from a spread of spring onions.


Next up was a larger dish of pork belly with basil and peppercorns (£ 12).

Usually I’m a little wary of pork belly as I tend to think it’s a little fat, but I thought this dish has more meat than fat.

The lively curry sauce in turmeric was rich in sweet coconut with a freshness from basil. The hint of spice is reminiscent of a Sri Lankan massaman curry rather than a treat from chippy Saturday night. A side of steamed jasmine rice (£ 2) helped soak up the moreish sauce.

Pork belly and chaat and chili chips

For those who miss GaGa chicken, then the crispy cchicken sandwich, served with sambal and cucumbers (£ 10) will not disappoint.

The chicken is encased in a very crispy dough that sits inside a soft brioche bun. There is a real chili pick from the sambal, but the cucumber slices add crunch and coolness.

We enjoy this along with a side of chaat and chili crinkle sliced ​​french fries (£ 2.50). These are a bit like the ones you used to be able to cook in the microwave, but are crispy, airy and spotted with spices.

The last head was hak suey aubergine (£ 11.50). Large pieces of eggplant, pepper, cucumber and tassels of kale float in a sauce of salt soy, which is dotted with chili.

hak suey aubergine

This feels like a meal that would ward off all ills, and as my dinner buddy exclaimed, if you could bottle it, it would be handy for the next hangover.

Now it seems like a good time to admit to being something of an addict when it comes to mango sticky rice, a sweet dish I discovered years ago while on vacation in Thailand.

I’ve never been able to find it in Glasgow until now. As soon as I saw GaGa’s menu, I clocked the dessert off sticky rice, mango and sesame (£ 7) and knew I had to try it. It did not disappoint me.

chicken sandwich

A bunch of rice porridge-type rice topped with sweet mango chunks and sauce is bound together with creamy coconut milk, while sesame brings texture and nutty depth.

It’s great to see a new restaurant rise like a Phoenix from what has been a tough time with restrictions and closures, and GaGa offers tasty comforting food with an excellent selection of drinks, making it an ideal place to stop by for a casual dinner or lunch.

While it remains to be seen if they will have to adopt GaGa to go, I’m sure this will remain part of the structure in one of Glasgow’s most diverse areas.

Price for two: £ 92 including drinks

566 Dumbarton Rd, Partick, Glasgow G11 6RH

0141 334 9407

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