Ho Lee Fook, Glasgow
The latest street food addition to Glasgow's East End brings an impressive mix of East Asian flavours to the Barras
We’ll let you in on a little secret – these food and drink pages aren't the super-smooth operation you might imagine. Our quest to find new, interesting places is often foiled by issues like ‘getting the opening times wrong’, or ‘turning up and finding all the food's been eaten’.
But sometimes blundering about has its advantages, like stepping out of the Barras on a Sunday afternoon to the sight of an enormous neon in a tiny hole-in-the-wall, with delicious smells wafting into the Gallowgate and a mid-sized scrum of people outside. What we’re looking at is Ho Lee Fook; on our visit, it’s six days old. Our initial plan was to go to the other end of town but we are *right here*... so this month we’re talking about Ho Lee Fook.
It’s the new project from Lee and Johnny Chung, a husband-and-wife team from Glasgow, both of whom were born to Hong Kong parents (the name roughly translates to ‘wealth and good luck’ in Cantonese). The place itself juts out from a side street by the Barrowlands like a jet-black iceberg. There are full tables on the pavement full of new fans having their lunch; the queue keeps nearly accidentally walking into the road; the neon is incredibly bright but mostly occluded by the team, so when it does cut through it really gets you.
Behind the counter, it’s controlled chaos, judging by the sheer number of arms moving about. “I can never find anything back here,” Lee tells us while seemingly rooting around in two different places and looking in a third. That chaotic energy extends to the menu, with dishes from Taiwan, Japan, Korea and Hong Kong all running side-by-side. But here’s the thing – chaos is sometimes loads of fun.
Ho Lee Fook. Credit: Julia Sundermeyer
That’s how we end up in the little park down from the Barras (having forgotten Glasgow Green exists – organisation!), diving into an enormous box of Biang Biang noodles (£7). It’s a chewy, savoury, umami-packed treat, loaded with pickled cabbage and spring onions and coated in an excellent in-house garlic chilli oil. The further you get, the spicier it becomes, you’re trying not to dribble on your trousers, it’s a fun time.
The chicken karaage (£6) is also great – in a past life, Lee and Johnny ran a fish and chip shop, and you can tell. This stuff is nicely seasoned, hotter than the sun, and the classic combo of crispy on the outside and soft in the middle. The spring rolls (£5.50) are… Well, it’s a ‘rotating specials’ situation, and today they’re cheesy ramen spring rolls. This, admittedly, sounds a bit wild but it totally works. You end up with a fried cross between a summer roll and a mozzarella stick; those are both good things, and when you put them together the result is a piping hot bit of salty, spicy gooey oddness. The Hong Kong egg custard tart or dan tat (£2.50) is enormous, possibly a touch under-baked, but impressively wobbly so we’ll let it off.
The Barras has always been a bit chaotic, but a trip around the Market sees us bumping into new sustainable fashion stores and artist-run spaces as well as the impressively-stocked button stall. [Side note: in the queue for the Death Grips gig later in the week, we spotted the same button stall-holder nipping in and out with her triple-A pass on. Chaos.] It’s in this spirit that Ho Lee Fook comes to us – a bit wild, slightly unpredictable, and a bit chaotic, but well worth a visit.
1/3 McFarlane Street, Glasgow, G4 0TL
Thu 12-2.30pm, Fri-Sun 12-3.30pm and 5-7.30pm
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