Mala Project, Church Street, Glasgow: Review by Ron Mackenna


So THE dry pot, I say to the greeter, after we’ve walked up and down the open fridges, looking at the ingredients, the spices, the skewers, and I’ve asked countless questions about… well, damn it, like that then does everything work?

“And,” I add, picking up one of the giant clear plastic bowls I was directed to, “I’ll grab a couple of these skewers.” In go two raw shrimp skewers, £1 each, some raw beef, a couple of these in Tofu skin wrapped cilantro stuff, a filamentous mushroom tofu, whatever, an undercooked breaded chicken, a stuffed animal (yes, old joke).

And we go to the counter where the lady weighs my skewer bowl, calculates the price, adds the £13.80 dry pot dish and then waits patiently when I suddenly realize that this restaurant on Church Street – Glasgow’s West End, which you rarely find driving down – opens up to another huge room that I hadn’t even seen before.

“Wow, what is that?” I call out to the friendly greeter, gazing enviously at the immaculate rows of faux leather shacks stretching enticingly to the horizon.

“That,” he says, “is our hot pot section, not open yet as we’re waiting for special machines from China.”

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Special machines from China, I murmur, glancing at the invisible four people sitting in the unopened, no longer secret compartment. And I deal with the student dudes in the Formica canteen area out front, after skipping shovels and trimmings and pig feet and chicken feet and finally – shamefully lazy you’ll think – ordering at the we-pick-the -ingredients” tourist menu.

My goodness, I groan as I slide into a seat not far from the please put your umbrella here sign, ask the cleaning lady to wipe the table again, and stare at my fellow guests: all students from China, I would guess .

Of course, I still have to pick myself up and head to the condiment area to fill a bowl with chopped peanuts, chopped cilantro and onion, chili, sesame oil, tahini oil, and other gooey stuff to pour over my tourist dish when it arrives from the kitchen there rear.

Full disclosure: I only do the spice conga after realizing everyone else is doing it, and when I come back my dry pot, spicy pot, and seafood combo lands.

Those tofu skewers on the side — filled with now-wilted cilantro in the fryer, drenched in a sweet, gooey, tangy Moreish sauce — are here too.

HeraldScotland: Mala Projectmala project (image: free)

And there are the beef skewers. These are rolled in some dry spice with some real flavor, maybe ground Szechuan pepper, maybe some dried fruit too. They are moist and meaty, with a slight crunch.

I like that. I’m not so fond of the seafood casserole – a thing of real beauty when it’s in front of me. It’s all dark colors, vibrant herbs, shrimp, squid, other seafood, mushrooms, corn on the cob, lotus roots, cauliflower, celery, sliced ​​potatoes, fish tofu of all things – and all clearly tossed in a flaming wok of deliciousness.

That dark chili sauce – does it have black beans in it? — and a salty, savory, savory aftertaste that will see me scooping the flavorful leftovers from an otherwise empty bowl in about 12 minutes.

This was light yet bold in flavor, freshly seasoned and simply a treat to consume. I was not expecting that. To be honest, I didn’t expect the tofu skin gubbins—crunchy and golden out of the fryer, those enoki mushrooms that are polished yet juicy, that cilantro that’s a huge flavor hit—to be so interesting either. And yes, good.

CONTINUE READING: “I don’t know how to eat this” – Ron Mackenna’s restaurant review

I polish the beef, the now-crispy chicken skewers, the big, fat, green chili, and all that livened up with that gooey, salty dressing.

Who knew Chinese students could eat so well? Well, I should have, because this triangle around Glasgow’s Dumbarton Road is packed with restaurants catering to the university’s huge student population.

But has a fabulous new Chinatown sprung – and we didn’t even realize it? I think it has.

mala project

Church Street 7


07858 568888

Menu: It’s Chinese food, but not as we know it. Dry pots, hot pots, choose your own ingredients to be weighed and cooked in the kitchen. Have fun. 4/5

The atmosphere: We could be in China, that’s how strong the mood is, up front, although it’s a simple, clean and efficient mood. If you like it different, it’s a hit. 4/5

service: The experience was greatly enhanced by the friendly young greeter who guided me through the whole process. Employees want to help. 5/5

Price: Food is picked, weighed and priced per scoop unless you opt for the £13.80 choice menu like I did. Worth a try. 4/5

Eat: You choose what is cooked, so the emphasis is on freshness. Seasoning magic turned the seafood pot into a triumph. skewers good too. 8/10

Overall 25/30 Mala Project, Church Street, Glasgow: Review by Ron Mackenna

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