In the fight for my favourite Chinese in Glasgow, Ka Ka Lok is always a front runner. With so many Chinese restaurants across the city to choose from, there is something charming and authentic about Ka Ka Lok’s simple décor and straightforward service.
On previous visits, I’ve always been offered two different menus: a more traditional Chinese one, and an English menu more centred around the dishes you would usually see on your average takeaway menu. Last week, however, the two menus had been combined into one large menu, combining both the classic dishes we all know and love with the slightly more weird and wonderful, like eel, jellyfish and more.
The décor in the restaurant is simple but effective, with pale, off-white walls and dark furniture providing a striking contrast. There is something to admire here as there are no gimmicks, no attempts to create a particular look or ambience, just a simple design that means the focus is truly on the plates of food firing out of the kitchen doors.
We were seated at a table right next to the air conditioning – thank god as it was crazy hot last Friday – and left to look over the menus. At 7.30pm on a Friday evening, despite the beautiful sunshine outside, the restaurant was already pretty packed, but the BYOB option means there’s no waiting for drinks, as long as you make sure to ask for glasses straight away. To keep the hunger pangs at bay while you decide, a basket of prawn crackers and dips are quickly placed on your table, and ours were very quickly devoured.
For my starter, I decided to opt for the Salt & Chilli Squid, which is one of my favourite dishes here, and it didn’t disappoint. The squid was crispy and perfectly soft, with plenty of salt, onion and chilli adding flavour and heat. Sarah opted for the dumplings, which had a delicious filling and lovely soft dough fried on one side to add a little texture and crunch, while Alan opted for the chicken satay, which had a beautifully rich and salty peanut sauce.
We decided to share our mains of Char Siu Pork, Shredded Chilli Chicken, and Alans choice of Beef Fillet on a sizzling skillet with black bean sauce, along with a couple of portions of fried rice. All three dishes were brilliant, but my favourite was my choice of Char Siu pork, which was perfectly tender with that slightly sweet flavour perfectly balanced against the natural saltiness of the pork. The beef was tender and the sauce peppery and rich, while the chilli chicken had a beautifully bright, sticky chilli glaze. We noticed in the chilli chicken there were large, black-ish vegetables and couldn’t figure out what they were. I reckoned some sort of mushroom while Alan thought maybe seaweed, so we asked the waiter, who explained they were a rare Chinese mushroom that they order direct from China to the restaurant, so you know they’re using authentic ingredients!
By the time we finished everything, and yes, we licked those plates clean, we were ready to be rolled home, and all that was left to do was settle our bill. For the three of us to have two courses each, the bill came to just under £60, which, considering the mountain of food we had between us, is a bargain in my opinion! The refreshing thing about KaKa Lok is it relies almost entirely on word-of-mouth, with no website, and no social media channels other than a simple Facebook page that is basically just a place for customers to post their pictures.
It’s no wonder the restaurant flourishes despite having two other Asian restaurants next door, because one visit to this authentic establishment, and you’ll be raving about it to everyone you know too. Simple, efficient service, reasonable prices, and incredible food make Ka Ka Lok one of the best Chinese restaurants in town.