With blue Monday behind us and, what feels like, one of the longest months of the year (thanks in part to another lockdown) almost behind us, a celebration of the small things seems in order.
With days all running into one just now, I’ve taken to harking back to a childhood tradition of sorts, and making a takeaway the highlight of my weekend. The joy of lockdown baking has been replaced with browsing the online menus and waiting impatiently for the buzzer to go.
One of the newest additions to the Glasgow dining scene is Mamasan - a South Asian inspired restaurant and bar that opened in 2020 and has since had to adapt to the current and ongoing restrictions.
Mamasan was founded by Scottish entrepreneur and Edinburgh-born Brad Stevens (who also founded Bar Soba and Pizza Punks) and is located in a sleek glass fronted building close to Royal Exchange Square in the city centre.
I’ve driven past a few times and can only imagine the buzz of the new eatery - the sounds of cocktails being shaken as guests chatter at the bar and enjoy the relaxed atmosphere of a weekend dinner with friends or a loved one.
Until these times come again, and here’s hoping that is this side of this year, we have to soldier on with our own cooking, favourite takeaways and Zoom drinks with friends.
Since the latest restrictions came into place in Scotland, I am not too keen to stand outside in the freezing weather waiting on my dinner, so I am glad to see that Mamasan have an easy ordering system on their website, with delivery available that night.
The extensive menu, which consists of ‘traditional’ takeaway dishes of pad thai, dumplings and curries, also includes much more complex offerings - the types of dishes I can imagine would be on their menu in the restaurant.
It’s hard to overlook these, so we opted for starters of Thai fried chicken, wasabi sriracha and caramel and charred sweetcorn patties with chilli salted coconut with tamarind and lime.
These were to be followed by smoked beef brisket and bone marrow massaman curry, sweet and sticky pork belly, roast salted pumpkin, crackling, crispy shallots with sides of Jasmine rice and Asian greens. To really try and transport myself to Mamasan’s bar, I also ordered a pre-dinner snack of Thai spiced cashews and peanuts.
As we plated up the starters I tucked into the spiced nuts which were delicious little bites of flavour, that had a slight kick and a smidge of coconut in there too.
I’m a big believer in sweet and spice being the perfect combination for fried chicken, similar to how it is often paired with hot honey in America. The batter on the Thai fried chicken was light and crispy, with the heat from the wasabi and sriracha balancing really well with the sweetness of the caramel and the slight saltiness of the batter.
The sweetcorn patties too were well balanced, with the sweetness of the corn standing up to the sour lime and tamarind.
On to the mains, starting with the sweet and sticky pork belly, which was in bite sized chunks floating in fragrant broth punctuated with bright, soft pumpkin and shallots. This was a real comforting dish - something I wasn’t expecting from the description but very welcome.
The lumps of crackling were crisp enough for some bite but not so solid that you crack your teeth. A strong flavour, which added saltiness to the dish when softened in the broth.
The bone marrow with the curry makes for a statement dish normally not expected with a takeaway, especially as the bone comes packed up in its own takeaway box, ready to have the marrow scraped out. Massaman is a great example of a curry that delivers with its depth rather than the heat it brings. It lends itself well to a soft meat like this, with each bit of beef jam packed with the warming spices like cinnamon and cloves.
The Asian greens of Pak Choi and broccoli added some colour to the dishes and were soft and fresh - ideally slurped from the bowl.
After becoming slightly obsessed with the dessert of mango sticky rice during a trip to Thailand, I am a bit disappointed that there are no dessert options available but, given how much we have ordered, that’s maybe no bad thing.
While Mamasan offers a perfectly pleasant takeaway, I get the feeling that their food may shine in the surroundings of which it was intended for - and I am looking forward to finding out when they finally can reopen their restaurant.
As well as takeaway, Mamasan also offers cook at home kits, with delivery now available to Edinburgh.
Mamasan, 222 Ingram Street, Glasgow G1 3BX on 0141 739 1550, www.mamasan.uk
£44.37 for two