Eat - Masala Jak's

  • The List
  • 28 February 2007


Take a journey from the Indian subcontinent to the American frontier at the latest and most unusual offering from Glasgow’s Harlequin restaurant chain.

Back in the great American goldrush of 1849, as thousands of prospectors flocked west in search of their fortune, one man stood out among them, albeit for panhandling skills of a different kind. His name was Jagir Singh - aka ‘Masala Jak’ - a man who, despite having travelled all the way from Punjab only to fail in his search for gold, wasn’t to give up on fame and fortune easily. Instead, he found it by introducing the delights of Indian cuisine to the great US of A. And a legend was born.

How that legend spawned a curry house in Govan, named in Jak’s honour and situated somewhere between an Odeon multiplex and a branch of Ben and Jerry’s, isn’t quite clear. It’s all part of the fun though, at this latest, and most unusual, branch of the Harlequin chain’s ever growing Glasgow Indian eating empire, which opened at the end of last year, overlooking the River Clyde.

Based on the slightly odd principle of a traditional curry house embellished with a wild west-style flourish, Jak’s is, in many ways, far from your average Indian eatery - and, in others, not. The mahogany and red brick interior initially resembles a slightly tacky American diner, with rows of four seater booths running up the middle, parallel to a service hatch which reveals the bustling kitchen behind. The walls, however, are adorned with much of the usual (and somehow reassuring) décor typical of British curry houses: stylised pictures of Indian royalty, tablas, sitars and the like.

The menu strikes a similar balance, the food comprising standard Indian dishes given some stateside twists. Starters range from pakora and samosas to tasty masala potato wedges and hot and sour wings - all of which arrive on a platter for two amid a jungle of fresh, colourful salad. Mains include the usual flurry of bhoonas, chasnis and kormas as part of a simple ‘curry and rice’ selection, while the pioneering spirit is embraced through steaming bowls of straight up campfireside-style mash. There’s also a ‘desi style traditional’ selection, which consists of chicken or lamb on the bone in rich, thick sauces. These are wonderfully messy, indulgent eats that should come served with a toothpick.

Service certainly has more than a hint of Americanised ‘have a nice day’ custom - with waiting staff stopping by to ensure all is well just a little too regularly. Manager Shailly’s cheery visits to give a knowing grin and thumbs up as you tuck in are a welcome touch, however, nicely embodying the fun and unassuming spirit of a restaurant given plenty of character by one distant, peculiar vestige of the American dream. Jak would certainly be proud.

The Quay, Springfield Quay, Glasgow
0141 429 4492, Mon - Sun noon - 11pm
Standard Indian dishes are given an American twist. Friendly service and a relaxed, diner-style atmosphere

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