THERE’S a field of broken restaurant dreams out there. You just can't see it. That’s because whenever someone nosedives into the cash flow chasm of restaurant life and is crawling away from the blazing wreckage there’s inevitably a queue pleading with a landlord to be allowed to take her out for a spin. Right now. And off they go, even if they have never flown before.

Frankly? I blame that Jamie Oliver and all those telly chefs. Making running a restaurant look easy.

I mention this because as soon as I walk into the Kowloon Kitchen here, whoosh, the ghosts of restaurants past come flooding from the walls.

Loading article content

Over there where those tables and chairs are now? Wasn’t that the open kitchen for the upmarket Italian place? It got at least one super-enthusiastic review, though not from me, but neither the prices, nor the food, ever seemed quite right.

I used to come in for coffee – there were always free tables – and a stagnant specials board hung right up there, like an albatross.

Then there was The Salisbury. I kind of liked that. They had a better idea about pricing. Dunno what happened with that one either though.

That’s the thing about us fat food critics, we’re here for the birth but never the death. Perhaps it was a consistency problem with The Salisbury. The never-spoken truth is this: a restaurant is better off being straight-out bad, than being inconsistent. That’s because a surprised customer tells 10 times more people than someone who simply gets what they kind-of expected.

Now, see where I’m sitting? With the bar uncomfortably behind my head, life-size photo wallpaper of, er, bamboo to my left? Wasn’t this a booth before? Or was the booth over where that untidy-looking storeroom lies open? Where the staff kinda hang out. I forget.

Somehow I kind of expected the Kowloon to be a new take on an old favourite. Like the zing-aling-along west end Glasgow vibe that’s going on with Dumpling Monkey and places like that coming south. Or is it goes south? We’ll see.

I can exclusively anyway reveal this is not an exciting new take on an old favourite. I know this because the first thing I do is scour the menu looking for something interesting to eat. Nada. Niente. It’s like being taken back to a 1970s Chinese restaurant with a little bit of the 1990s thrown in.

Sweet and Sour chicken or lemon chicken anyone? Didn’t think so. Prawn cocktail? Salt n’chill chicken wings? How about duck spring rolls? Maybe, but they’re small, bland and tasting of thick fried pastry and not much else.

Moving on. How about some Yuk Sung? Remember this one? A pile of fresh, springy, lettuce leaves, a bowl of minced pork on the side for the filling-the-leaves-with. Utterly tasteless, though you could possibly find the faintest trace of soy sauce in there if you were to go in with a map and compass. I don’t. Char Sui Fried Rice? Chicken Breast Curry? Hmmm.

Mooshu chicken catches my eye. It's a type of mushroom the waitress tells me. It is, in fact, a type of mushroom that looks and tastes like I imagine a purple human ear would look and taste. It’s rubbery and served up in a grey, gruel-like sauce.

The same grey, gruel-like sauce that comes with the broccoli. This broccoli is billed as a vegetarian dish, though it’s a staple of and often the best thing on the menu of just about every decent Chinese-Scottish restaurant these days. That grey sauce now has garlic chopped through it. It still doesn’t improve it. It’s still very bad.

The Kowloon does achieve one astonishing thing. It’s only been open a few weeks and already it looks completely tired out and woefully dingy.

Hey, but at least it’s very cheap. Never, ever underestimate how important that is in turning the most unlikely of restaurants into a success.

Kowloon Bar and Kitchen

72 Nithsdale Road, Glasgow (0141 423 0999)

Menu: Everything you thought you knew about a 1970s Chinese restaurant menu is on here. Plus some dim-sum. 2/5

Atmosphere: I’ve never been to Kowloon but surely it doesn’t look like this. Cheap decor, dingy and very, very tired. 2/5

Price: Starters around £4 to £4.50, mains £6.50 to £8.50. It’s rock-bottom cheap which is pretty much all it's got going for it. 4/5

Service: Nothing wrong here, you order the food and they bring it to you in a pleasant fashion. 4/5

Food: There isn’t much that’s going to give any old school Chinese restaurant anything to worry about. Food is either bland or bad. 2/10

Total: 14/20