It gives you a new perspective on a restaurant when you’re eating with someone who has Type 1 diabetes. How much carb is in each dish? That’s what she needs to know, so she can balance it with insulin. My interest is less life and death, but having gravitated to the low-carb side of the Great Nutrition Debate, I’m interested to hear what Ka Pao, this new south-east Asian centric outfit, has to say for itself. Most restaurants would struggle, but this is a fluent, informative reply.

After a quick consultation with the chef, our waiter, hyper-pleasant, and seemingly interested in the response, directs us to the very few carb-heavy dishes on the menu. Jasmine rice apart, Ka Pao offers carb-lite, and from my point of view, healthy eating. And here’s another plus point: nothing apart from the banana fritter is deep-fried, so we can largely steer clear of those suspect cooking oils too.

By the time we leave, we’ve reached that bliss point where our appetites are sated, our tastebuds exercised, yet the food sits light in our stomachs.

We are all sure that we’ll come back.

It’s the ‘crab, coconut, calamansi and crispy rice’ that sets the tone. What appear to be prawn crackers, brimming over with fresh white crab meat that’s electrified with the sour, lime-like citrus presence of calamansi juice, and topped with toasted coconut and puffed rice.

They grow our appetites, as do the ‘chilli and lime leaf cashews and peanuts’. For £3.50, I’m expecting mainly peanuts, but it’s the other way around. I could hardly buy cashews for this price, and then you’d have the problem of how to so thoroughly impregnate them with the addictive smell of citrus hystrix, Kaffir lime leaf.

Then there’s this classic Thai grilled beef salad, the acme of freshness. I can see myself coming to Ka Pao to eat only this for lunch, these pink curls of beef, not a plodding lean cut, something more interesting, possibly hanger or feather steak, in a pile-up of coriander, mint, dill, paper thin fresh shallot, minutely minced lemongrass, tossed in a dressing that reeks of fish sauce and lime juice, finished off with a dusting a crispy fried shallot.

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Mind you, there’s this bowl of star anise and ginger-scented amber broth, wherein slow-cooked pork cheeks sit like treacherous rocks amidst slippery shiitake mushrooms. The sheer strength of the ginger lends the liquor an expectorant effect, an almost medicinal effect, and there’s a salty-vinegary sourness that reminds me of Chinese hot and sour soup. This is what I want when I’m ill.

I’m intrigued to see how skate wing stands up to an Asian treatment. Golden-fried, its sticky, firm flesh very evidently fresh, its extremities peep out under a rich, lime leaf-fragrant sauce that owes its thickness to cashews and water chestnut, and a sweetness that comes, perhaps, from palm sugar.

The plate is too small for the fish, so visually, the presentation isn’t as eye-catching as other dishes.

Roast duck leg in long pepper red curry certainly earns the two chilli symbols that annotate its menu entry. Its pungency intensifies until you absolutely must have a few mouthfuls of rice or that cooling, crunchy, sweet-pickled herb salad that flanks it.

And after a sinus-clearing dish such as this, the cool, shredded cabbage and crispy rice salad, shot through with thin, pink-fringed slices of astringent forced rhubarb, moistened with lime and fish sauce, broken up with leafy coriander, is just the job.

As is this icy ‘soft serve’ coconut and pandan leaf ice cream and mango and calamansi sorbet that’s spewed out in a stripy minaret. Even Mr Whippy can be successfully reinvented.

Ka Pao inhabits a roomy semi-basement in an old Art Deco garage. Noisy, lively, it has youth appeal on looks alone. But there’s no makeweight plate-dressing at Ka Pao, the ingredients are high quality, the cooking is intelligent. An intoxicating mix.

Joanna Blythman

Guild of Food Writers Food Writer of the Year 2018

Ka Pao, 26 Vinicombe Street, Glasgow 0141 483 6990

Food: 9/10

Atmosphere: 9/10

Service: 10/10

Value for money: 10/10

Joanna Blythman

Guild of Food Writers Food Writer of the Year 2018