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Edinburgh restaurant is best Asian start

Restaurant boss Mohammad Abbas has come up with the perfect starter. His tiny central Edinburgh restaurant has been judged the best Asian food newcomer in Scotland. The 20 seat restaurant Cilantro on Leith Walk, opened in June, took the prize at the Asian Restaurant Awards at the Sheraton Grand Hotel and Spa in the city on 1 November.

Read our review of Cilantro here In another accolade his first and even smaller restaurant, Bo’ness Spice in West Lothian, which was shortlisted in those Awards, was named as a finalist in the Outstanding Indian Restaurant of the Year category in the Scottish Asian Food Awards. These will be presented at the Marriott Hotel in Glasgow on Monday 28 November. “I’m overjoyed to have Cilantro rated as the best new Asian restaurant in the country, especially considering the extremely tough competition from far larger establishments,” Mohammad commented. His restaurant is named after the coriander plant. “It’s due to the hard work of my team and their commitment to total quality in everything they do,” he added. Our policy is to use only authentic flavoursome ingredients, cook them in authentic ways and serve them with care - and a smile! This award demonstrates that we’re meeting the high standards we set ourselves.”

The team at the opening of Cilantro earlier this year

However, Mohammad added a note of caution on the current state of the hospitality industry. “The rising cost of ingredients and energy is casting a shadow over the entire restaurant business as well as the overall economy,” he said. “Businesses and consumers are all facing massive increases in the prices of food and utilities. There has never been a greater need for restaurants to provide high quality meals and the best possible value for money.” Last May Mohammad opened up the first Indian-style eatery in Bo’ness, with only 14 seats. Speaking of Bo’ness Spice’s place on the shortlist, a spokesperson for The Scottish Asian Food Awards said: “All finalists should feel proud to be recognised for their talent and hard work.

Lamb tikka Kebab at Bo'ness Spice

“They bring much joy and entertainment through delicious food which represents Scotland’s rich culture and heritage. These awards honour those who give their all to deliver outstanding service and open the doors to Asia’s kitchen.” Neither restaurant is licensed but diners can bring their own alcoholic drinks with a small corkage charge added.

During the Covid pandemic Bo’ness Spice provided free meals to front line workers including ambulance crews and ran a fund raising event for Ukrainian refugees. Before opening it Mohammad was front of house manager at a multi award-winning restaurant in Midlothian.

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