Edinburgh’s Indian restaurant battles with sister West Lothian for Scotland’s best newcomer

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Last May, Mohammad Abbas opened the first Indian-style restaurant in Bo’ness, and followed it 13 months later by unveiling Cilantro in Leith Walk.

Both are among four restaurants shortlisted for Newcomer to the Asian Restaurant Awards, which will be announced at a presentation dinner at the Sheraton Grand Hotel and Spa in Edinburgh on November 1.

Abba said: “It is a great and perhaps unique honor to have my restaurants named as two of the best newcomers to the Asian restaurant scene in Scotland.

Last May, Mohammad Abbas opened the first Indian-style restaurant in Bo’ness, and followed it 13 months later by unveiling Cilantro in Leith Walk, Edinburgh.

“Bo’ness Spice and Cilantro are small but our teams believe in quality over size.

“Both have already proven to be very popular, but that didn’t surprise us as our menu features only the finest Indo-Bangladeshi dishes, freshly prepared with authentic spices.”

During the Covid pandemic, his first restaurant provided free meals to frontline workers, including paramedics, and held a fundraising event for Ukrainian refugees.

Before opening it, Mohammad was house manager at a multi-award winning restaurant in Midlothian.

Bo’ness Spice has only 14 seats and Cilantro (named after the leaves of the coriander plant) has 20.

Neither restaurant is licensed, but diners can bring their own alcoholic beverages with a small corkage fee added.

Yawar Khan, president of the Asian Restaurant Federation which organizes the awards, said the finalists “featured some of the best catering establishments from across the country”.

According to the ACF, Asian restaurants contribute £5 billion a year to the UK economy and employ over 100,000 people.

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