Two years ago this week I was exploring the food scene in Hong Kong, ordering xiaolongbao soup dumplings and braised fish, served on bustling street corners. I was thinking of the flavours I discovered back in the days when travel was possible as I waited for my order at Salt & Chilli Oriental, the new pop-up from chef Jimmy Lee and his team at the well established Lychee Oriental.

He has set up at 911 Dumbarton Road. The socially distancing queue I saw suggests they have immediately found a receptive audience for the new menu. The concept is “comforting Chinese classics alongside curious fusion concoctions”, mixing conventional Hong Kong street food with a dose of modern Glasgow attitude”.

Glasgow Times:

The biggest draw on the menu is the salt and chilli box, an idea that couldn’t be more suited to Glasgow’s takeaway tastes. I had the king prawn version, served with a scattering of chips and a selection of dips. The batter was light with a pinch of spice and the prawns themselves were plump with a pleasant, distinctive flavour. You can also choose chicken, ribs, crab or tofu.

Curry hawker fish balls and bao buns are straight out of the Hong Kong playbook providing interesting new dishes to try. I enjoyed the General Tso chicken, a tangy, sweet, fiery dish that was first created by chef Peng Chang-kuei in his New York restaurant in the 70s. It’s a menu item that I hope to see in more local restaurants. For now, enjoy Jimmy’s refined version.

Glasgow Times:

The lack of a dessert menu feels like a missed opportunity and they could be more creative with their side dishes but this is a strong debut.

Right now, the menu feels a bit safe and I’d suggest turning the volume up on some of the dishes, embracing the heat of chillies and taking more risks on flavour combinations.

It’s billed as a pop-up but Salt and Chilli Oriental feels like something that could earn itself a permanent home. Glasgow is ready for this food trend and more quality food to go, despite the reopening of dining rooms looming in the distance.  

In fact, if they play things right I wouldn’t be surprised to see a fleet of these takeaways appearing across the city and beyond.