Glasgow is well known for its deep fried cuisine – everything from mars bars, cream eggs and pizza to ice-cream – its haggis, neeps and tatties, and its chips with cheese. Yet, this is a city where a visitor can find food from anywhere in the world, cooked authentically. In a series that will explore Indian, Italian, and Spanish restaurants in Glasgow, I will start with a review of the best sushi places. Here’s our top-five list, in reverse order:
5. Nanakusa is strategically placed among the popular clubs and bars of Sauchiehall Street, and represents a much more interesting and healthy alternative to late night snacking than the take-away places that surround it. Located in an old bank building, its decor is curious, slightly out of place, but works. The food is correct, nothing outstanding but not bad either.
4. On the east side of Ingram Street, visitors can find Sapporo Teppanyaki, a classy Japanese restaurant located in the Merchant City. Their fish sushi is excellent, with a wide variety offering clever pieces such as the Glasgow roll: haddock, cucumber, carrot and asparagus. Yet, I think it lacks the gourmet approach of Wudon (see below). Apart from excellent sushi, sashimi included, customers can order teppanyaki food, that is, iron grilled by an experienced chef in front of you. It is perfect for parties. They also have a grilled Sunday brunch, for a different take on a classic. Their wine, champagne and liqueur selection is impressive but, be warned, what they call cocktails is just a drink with mixer. No cosmopolitans here!
3. Ichiban is a Glasgow institution and its name (here’s a useful quiz fact) means the art of flower arranging. Ichiban has two restaurants, one in the West End’s Byres Road and one in the City Centre (Queen Street). This is a very nice place, quirky in places – it often has Japanese Manga cartoons playing on the television in the corner – offering the fare you expect together with some more adventurous dishes such as eel.
2. Oko Express is next to Ichiban on Queen Street. I find it cuter, more intimate and a little less noisy than its neighbour. Its sushi selection is great but lacks inventiveness. Yet, what they do they do very well and it is good value for money. They also offer other dishes blending Thai, Korean and Japanese foods and their Katsu curry hits the spot on a cold night. Staff are very helpful and the restaurant is very well located for any amenities, from the Cineworld cinema and City Centre theatres, to clubs.
1. Opposite the excellent cheese mongers, Melis on the Botanical Gardens area of Great Western Road, Wudon has everything one could hope for in a Japanese sushi restaurant. Great, attentive, knowledgeable service, a touch of luxury (which you may only get in Sapporo and, perhaps Bar Soba), and adventurous sushi. Try their Chicken Katsu Curry and their tempura sushi and you will not be disappointed. Their grill, wok, noodle and snack menu is splendid. The one think missing for me was, perhaps, a selection of sashimi, but I must remember I am in Glasgow, not Japan.
There is more to sushi in Glasgow, though! Here’s the best of the rest, in no particular order. Bar Soba is a classy place in Mitchell Lane (off Buchanan Street). It is elegant, making it a superb place for an intimate dinner or a celebration. It is not to be confused with the more relaxed and trendy Bar Miso, in West Regent Street, where you can go for a bite, create your own cocktail at an inexpensive price and listen to the latest DJs.
If you are a comfort person and want to get what you know works for you, Glasgow also has franchises of Yo Sushi and Wagamama, which you can find on the ground floor of the department store House of Fraser in Buchanan Street, and in West George Street, respectively.
Before you ask for the bill (the night is young and there is plenty to do in Glasgow, from comedy to burlesque or salsa) don’t forget to round off your nice meal with a bottle of warm sake. Perfect!