Go Sangatsu @ Acid Bar, SWG3, Glasgow
Five March’s Japanese-inspired pop-up at SWG3 presents some interesting dishes and large dollops of excellent mayonnaise
After past residencies from Ka Pao and Julie’s Kopitiam, it’s the turn of West End restaurant Five March to take on SWG3’s bar and restaurant, nestled between the train tracks and an all-night trance music festival that’s kicking off as we arrive. Their pitch – Go Sangatsu, a pop-up inspired by the cuisines and techniques of Japan, but with some inspirations from further afield and ingredients from closer to home.
First up, ramen eggs (£4)! We like an egg here in the food section, and these are great. They’re creamy, jammy, salty, and come topped with some excellent kewpie-style Japanese mayo. Throw on some tiny bits of impressively flavourful coriander and a bit of puffed rice to remind us to chew, and it’s a delightfully fatty start.
There’s more great mayonnaise up next, on the potatoes with miso aioli (£6). A transplant from the main Five March spot, these are brilliant. Crispy, gnarly and surprisingly spiky potatoes covered in a spicy, umami seasoning and then thrown overboard into a sea of creamy, savoury aioli. The shiitake and eggplant mapo tofu (£8) is also excellent. It’s a bit light on the tofu (in that there’s hardly any tofu) but what you definitely will find are the fermented, spicy, rich flavours that you want from this kind of dish.
That tofu situation is one of a few times where Go Sangatsu’s proportions go a bit haywire. A pile of green beans in a tantanmen dressing (£5) are stacked up like kindling, but it's enough kindling to start a pretty decent fire. Was this dish designed to pair up with something we didn’t order, or for a larger group to share? Possibly. Would we have complained if it was half the size? Absolutely not.
Away from the creamy end of the scale, our piece of skate (£9) with charred corn in a soy and ginger broth looks brilliant, and shows off a good balance of most of its key elements. It’s soft where you want it to be, crunchy when you need it, and while the soy is a bit dominant in the broth it’s still a very nice piece of fish.
If that soy was a little overwhelming, dessert – a black sesame purin, or custard pudding (£5) – is subtle to the point of underwhelming. It’s refreshing and palate-cleansing, and makes an impressive jiggle when you nudge the table, but after a meal loaded with fairly assertive flavours it takes a while to get your head around.
All told, Go Sangatsu is pretty good, but we’re struggling a bit to work out who it’s for. There’s an impressive lack of clout-chasing on the menu, but there’s no killer dish that leaps off the page and demands to be eaten, or calls for an immediate return trip. The Acid Bar space, the staff, and the decor are lovely, but they’re all at the end of a long drawl away from a buzzing main road. Yet on its own terms and away from the vagaries of hyperlocal geography, Five March’s pop-up is a success, powered by some tasty dishes, high-quality cooking, and some of the best mayonnaise this side of the Pacific.
Go Sangatsu, SWG3, 100 Eastvale Pl, Glasgow, G3 8QG; Thu and Fri 12-3pm and 5-10pm, Sat 12-10pm