Take a look inside Ka Pao Edinburgh


Scoop Restaurants opened Ka Pao number two in Edinburgh’s St James Quarter last month and already it is a runaway success.

Whereas the original Ka Pao (which means Holy Basil in Thai) is situated in the historic Botanic Gardens Garage in Glasgow’s Vinicombe Street, with a discreet entrance and stairs that takes you downstairs into a large basement,  Ka Pao Edinburgh is the very juxtaposition. It is perched at the top of an impressive set of stairs, in a new-build building – with lots of glass and great views over the city.

But although completely different in structure the designers have brought many similar elements to the original Ka Pao. It is also the same designers – Mosaic.

Says Ka Pao owner Jonathan MacDonald, “Stuart Black at Mosaic, helped us create Ka Pao Glasgow and has also done Ka Pao Edinburgh. He has great vision – not just for the space, and the aesthetics but the operational side too.”

He continues, “I love the design aspect of the business.  I love seeing things go from an idea on paper. I enjoy procuring and getting the contractors in and the problem solving.

“Although we used the main contractor who did the St James Quarter, because it made sense to do so because it was a paperwork heavy development, there were many things that were not part of the contract. We went to London and picked the terrazzo table tops, and Stuart did a lot of bespoke design, and then our metal work contractor Andy Macdonald at Retro Metals fabricated it. For instance the curved bar, the waiter stations and such like.”

There are many similarities with Ka Pao Glasgow including the exposed ducting, feature lighting, the use of birch ply and the plant walls, the open kitchen, the grey screed used on the floors and the same red tiles, and the blue leather upholstery in the bar stools and chairs.

Jonathan points out, “In Glasgow our tables got really stained with tumeric, so in Edinburgh we have used black tables and introduced yellow splodges.”

One new feature is the curved bar which has an impressive hanging gantry, and it is one of Jonathan’s favourite elements of the design. He says, “I love the way it turned out and I like the fact that when you sit on the fixed bar stools you can see down the whole restaurant. The stools are fixed, and I like that because you don’t have to keep putting them back in place.”

As in Ka Pao Glasgow the new restaurant has an open kitchen. RH Morton, who were involved in Glasgow, provided the equipment and also helped with layout. Jonathan explains, “Chefs always say when designers do the kitchen it is either too small or over complicated. And although we have a good idea what we need Mark Roden of RH Morton was a great help. He has a great knowledge of the equipment and what works when it comes to layout and he made a lot of valuable suggestions.”

Ka Pao Edinburgh has 74 covers and Jonathan believes this is a “nice size.” He says, “Ox and Finch has 60 covers, and Glasgow more than 100 – I think this may be the optimum size – half way between the two.”

The furnishings are not fussy    navy birch seats, upholstered by JC Upholstery, fixed seating in the same colour and in the main body of the restaurant  the old bus seats, as used in Ox and Finch, make an appearance and upholstered in a rich brown.

Colour comes in the shape of the large oval table, the private dining table, which no doubt will be the most in demand – perched as it is in a great window position. The seating is curved around the table and has been upholstered in mustard – it is a great position and adds a real pop of colour.

There is also plenty of greenery, which brings the outside in.  The photos really show Ka Pao Edinburgh in all its glory, but as they say the proof is in the pudding, so why not pay a visit yourself?

Category: Design, Restaurant
Tags: Edinburgh, Jonathan MacDonald, Ka Pao, RH Morton