TWO popular restaurants located next door to each other in Helensburgh have been hailed at a national event.

Mandarin and Annaya's, both on West Princes Street, scooped two trophies at the fifth annual Spice Awards on Monday evening.

While Mandarin has been nominated in the past, this is the first time owners Amie and Kenny Hew have returned to Helensburgh with prizes.

Husband and wife duo Amie and Kenny set up the business more than 12 years ago with the aim of sharing their favourite cuisines from Malaysia and Hong Kong with Helensburgh residents.

Amie told the Advertiser how honoured they feel after being highly commended in both the Best Asian Restaurant and Best Asian Takeaway categories.

"It feels like all the hard work has paid off," she said. 

"We have been running the business for quite a while now and this is the icing on the cake.

"We were honestly not expecting to come away with anything. I am still in complete shock.

"We have always been a great team and we treat the community like they are our friends. We have known some of our customers since they were young and have even been serving their children too. "

Helensburgh Advertiser: Amie Hew holding her awards at the Spice Awards 2023Amie Hew holding her awards at the Spice Awards 2023 (Image: Amie Hew)

However, there is no slowing down for the couple when asked about their future for the business.

Amie, 55, added: "We are going to just keep working hard and hopefully win some more awards along the way.

"We have such amazing staff who were are lucky to have. They also play a big part in our awards.

"We have such a wonderful community in Helensburgh. It is not an easy industry as we have to sacrifice quite a large part of our social life to run our business, but our customers will always make it worth it.

"We would also like to thank our families, especially my sister Christina, who has supported us throughout. We couldn't have done it without them."

And the award-winning Annaya's Indian restaurant was also highly commended - in their case for Rocky Aziz in the 'best restaurant manager' category.

Helensburgh Advertiser: Rocky Aziz has also been awarded at the national eventRocky Aziz has also been awarded at the national event (Image: Newsquest)

Rocky, 60, said: "The way I see it is that your customers are coming in blind. They don't know what to order and as I have been a chef for years and studied food, so my job is to recommend our dishes based on their dishes. People always want to try something different that other restaurants don't have.

"It is always doing your upmost best to make sure that the customer comes back and doing all you can for them. I always make sure that they are royalty and family to us. 

"We have a great front-of-house staff and sing off the same tune. Annaya's is one of those places that we want to come to work for every day. It makes me so happy making people happy before they leave.

"I do want to thank Nav, Trent, Rafiq, Brian and Tarak for everything they have done. I couldn't have done it without their support. I also want to thank everyone in the community for standing by me all those years. I wouldn't be where I am without them truly."

We previously told how the restaurant was given a highly commended title in the ‘Best Restaurant’ category at the Scotland-wide Entertainment and Hospitality Awards in May.

The restaurant is no stranger to prizes - it won a trio of accolades at the 2019 Spice Awards, and was named overall winner of the Five Star Indian Restaurant of the Year gong at the inaugural Scottish Asian Food Awards in 2018.

Speaking on behalf of Rocky, head chef Zak Haiver said: "The people in Helensburgh would tell you that Rocky is amazing and we are so lucky to have him. He is one of a kind and is a massive part of not only the restaurant but also the community.

"He is very passionate about Annaya's restaurant being an exceptional stand-out establishment. And the fact that he has been listed in this category at the Spice Awards in 2019, 2020 and last year speaks volumes.

"We will always be grateful for the work that Rocky does."