The Not-so-Far East: The best world food in Scotland

Your winners in this year’s International Food category hail from across Asia – grab your culinary passports as we take a closer look at each

Feature by Peter Simpson | 07 Jan 2015

Mother India’s Cafe

A mainstay of the food scenes in both Edinburgh and Glasgow, the tapas style of Mother India’s Cafe combines the flavours of India with the communal vibes of Spain. Sure, that results in the occasional ‘heated debate’ around the dinner table when stand-out dishes like the spiced haddock emerge and everyone else decides that they want to share after all, but it’s a small problem to have. The menu is full of well-prepared and beautifully balanced dishes for both veggies and carnivores alike, and the format means that – providing you can work as a team – a single meal can contain a huge range of flavours and styles. Just play nice and you’ll be fine.

The Hanoi Bike Shop

Step in the door at Hanoi Bike Shop in Glasgow’s West End and you’re immediately transported to a Vietnamese cafe. Not literally of course, that would be pretty inconvenient, but the exciting dishes and omnipresent odour of fish sauce certainly make an immediate impression. The stars of the show are the Bike Shop’s bowls of pho, packed with flavour and served with a garden’s worth of herbs and leaves to customise your noodle soup to your liking, while the lunchtime Banh Mi sandwiches are a great way to convince more skeptical friends to get on board with Vietnamese cuisine.

Ting Thai Caravan

Forget travelling around the world, Edinburgh residents entering Ting Thai Caravan must think they’ve stepped into a magical portal to Glasgow. Exciting, modern food in a stripped-back setting with great prices and a cool atmosphere? West coast witchcraft, surely. Judging by the constant flow of satisfied diners through its doors at all times of day and night, the people of the capital are keen to keep the Caravan in situ, and you can’t blame them – expect exciting seafood, fragrant curries, and an incredible drinks list including a surprisingly sharp Thai rum daiquiri and a super-syrupy lemongrass and ginger juice.


The many forms and facets that make up Japanese cuisine each get a solid airing at Nanakusa in the heart of Glasgow, starting with the interior. The austere but stylish decor echoes the traditional sushi bar look, and the food goes a long way to obscuring the fact that we’re still in Scotland. A huge range of sushi, noodles, tempura, bento and much more are on offer, so whichever taste of Japan it is that you desire, Nanakusa should be able to help.

Babu Bombay Street Kitchen

The second of our winners to fly the flag for Indian cuisine, Babu are keen to see their food go as far and wide as possible. Their regular appearances at farmers’ markets in both Glasgow and Edinburgh see Babu dishing out their street food take on Indian classics come rain or… well, probably more rain, while their West Regent Street space is an option at any time of day thanks to their takeaway tiffin boxes and brilliant range of breakfast and lunch wraps. How they can be in so many places at once is beyond us, but we’re impressed.

The Skinny Food and Drink Survey 2015:

• Your favourites in Edinburgh and Glasgow in full

• A Brave New World: Your top new food venues from 2014 give their tips on getting started