Wednesday, 13 March 2019

Food: Wing Wah

Food and drink were complimentary for review purposes.

Wing Wah: previously situated in Nechells and now in the heart of China Town. The new restaurant is massive, with a dining room and several themed private dining rooms and karaoke rooms.

I visited to sample the menu. The chef had been working hard preparing many dishes, which had been set out for us so we could take pictures and see how beautiful the food is.

A variety of steamed dim sum, made to look like mushrooms, cute little faces and corn.

Believe it or not, these are cakes!

Look at the lovely fruit and vegetable carvings- they have a chef whose job it is to carve these beauties every day! He gave us a demonstration, making it look very easy. As I left, I was given a recipe book, which contained instructions for carving fruit. I'll give it a go but I'm not expecting much!

Downstairs, we had a look round the themed karaoke rooms, which can also be used as private dining rooms.

We sat around a large round table, with a spinny bit in the middle so the food could be passed around easily. Over the next couple of hours, we sampled many dim sum, main meals and sides, including some things I've never tried before.

Above, you can see some beautiful, delicate Chinese pastries, filled with warm Char Sui meat.

Roast meats were beautifully cooked, with crispy skin and tender meat. I particularly enjoyed the roast chicken.

Scallops cooked in a broth and served with rice noodles to soak it all up.

Chinese turnip (which I think is Daikon, a type of radish) brought some welcome crunch, as did the broccoli. I loved the broccoli; vibrant green, crunchy and packed with garlic flavour. Amazing how good a simple vegetable can taste.

To accompany all the delicious dishes, I also had some spoonfuls of yuzu fried rice- what a good idea. I really enjoyed my feast at Wing Wah and can't wait to return for more roast meats, dim sum and fantastic vegetables.

Wing Wah Wrottesly St, China Town, Birmingham

Thanks to Paul Fulford for the invite.

Photos my own

Wednesday, 20 February 2019

Food: Chung Ying Central

Food and drink were complimentary to celebrate Chung Ying Central's new menu. 

Style: Chinese    Price: ££ (Order loads of Dim Sum for around £4 a plate but mains vary)    
Location: Colmore Row

Chung Ying is a group of Cantonese restaurants in central Birmingham. I've been a fan for some years now, especially of Chung Ying Central. Chung Ying Central is on Colmore Row, has a slightly smaller menu than the rest of the group and has a focus on cocktails alongside 'small plates' such as dim sum. There's also crowd-pleasers such as Sweet and Sour and they're always trying to add in something less western!

 So, they've just launched a new menu, which is very clear and easy to follow, with small plates at its heart. I was invited along to try dishes from the new menu alongside some fellow bloggers, food writers and so on.

The food was matched with wines by Connolly's wine shop. It doesn't always have to be a beer with your Chinese food! I never consider having wine with Chinese. I particularly enjoyed the red wines; something I'll remember in future.

First up: a couple of Bao. These are small steamed buns, filled with something tasty. Originally from Taiwan, they've gradually sneaked in to Birmingham and I'm really glad to have somewhere else to get them (other than the incredible Tiger Bites Pig).

I tried the sweet potato katsu  and Beijing duck (both £5). You can also get the Bao filled with crispy pork, fried chicken or soft shell crab, all of which sound lovely. These are a perfect bite to start your meal. A perfect mixture of soft and crunchy textures, sweet and savoury flavours.

Next, a plate of spicy goodness! Please note that these are sample sizes, so not the amount you would receive if you ordered the dish. In the spoon you can see a kimchi dumpling (£4) which was absolutely beautiful. A squidgy outer casing was filled with deliciously spicy kimchi. One of my favourites of the evening.

The giant prawn on the plate is a Typhoon Prawn (£20 and absolutely worth it). Giant prawns in a beautiful mix of garlic and chilli. Don't think that head was just for show: there's plenty more meat within.

The group were then treated to a variety of mains. They were on sharing plates so I didn't get many photos. Below you can the Stewed Pork Belly, but we also tried black pepper beef, fried rice, Buddha's Delight (a tasty mix of veg and tofu skin) salted egg lobster, which was beautiful and finally... crispy pork intestines. If you're not squeamish I'd recommend giving it a go. It's just crunchy and fatty really so if you like things like pork scratchings you'll like it!

Finally time for dessert. I don't always think of pudding at a Chinese restaurant but I'm missing a trick as the Lava Buns (£4) are delicious. It's just a simple bun, filled with a salted egg yolk but often that's all you need. Next to it is the Sesame Red Bean Ball (£4) which is filled with a red bean paste, also a nice little morsel.

Chung Ying Central

Photos by myself

Food and drink were complimentary

Sunday, 20 January 2019

Food: Fiesta Del Asado, Shirley

Style: Steakhouse    Price: ££ (Steaks around £20, others between £15 and £20)      Location: Shirley

The location

You may know Fiesta Del Asado from its sister site in Edgbaston. A hugely popular steak restaurant, it also caters for people like me who prefer fish, chicken or lamb. While I'm not advising vegetarians to rush along, don't be put off if you don't like steak.

Opening a branch in Shirley was a great idea. Shirley High Street has some good chain restaurants but not many independents and there's so many people in the area. The building used to be a Marks and Spencer but clever design has made it into a warm and intimate space. Lots of greenery, soft lighting and some curves make for a pleasant  place to spend a couple of hours.

As you walk in, there's plenty of seating if you'd just like a drink and some nibbles; something I could see myself doing. There's a cocktail menu and range of wines, spirits and beers available. I was driving so I chose to have a soda water with lime. I was impressed with how my freebie soft drink was presented carefully in a cut glass tumbler, with a sweet circle of lime perched on top.

Later I chose a gin and tonic. They've got a short and sweet gin list including classics such as Tanqueray, which I had, and Nordes, a Spanish gin. Perfect while tucking into olives (£3.49) and padron peppers (£4.49).

The food

As I said, they're known for steak.  Argentinian steak, cooked over fire. This gives their steak a delicious crust on the outside, while the meat stays tender. So whenever I visit Fiesta Del Asado, I do enjoy a bite of someone else's steak, but I find a whole one too rich.

The joy of the flame-grilled restaurant is that they can grill other things on there. Such as chicken, which is what I chose. I absolutely love a half roast chicken. The crispy skin, the different cuts of chicken all together, the garlicky marinade. It seems simple but it's actually quite a challenge to balance all those things. I've had a over-cooked, dry half chicken on many occasions, or one with soggy skin, or an insipid sauce.

Happily, Fiesta Del Asado's Chicken Parilla (£15.99) ticks all of my chicken boxes. It was clearly a very good quality chicken, the meat was moist and the skin perfectly charred. It had been marinaded in garlic and thyme, which certainly came across. It came with a chimichurri, which could have had a tad more acidity for me. Alongside it was a lovely tomato and onion salad. The menu mentioned capers but I missed them.

Another sign of a good steak restaurant is its sides. I picked my main quite easily (although prawns and orzo pasta is on my list for next time) but I stared at the sides for a while. I knew I wanted some vegetables and I was pleased to see several possible dishes; not just chips and generic veg mix! A cucumber and chilli salad, butter beans in pesto and honey glazed carrots all sounded amazing.

Paul picked some chips (£1.99), Alev chose creamed spinach and roast potatoes and I went for roast peppers and butternut squash tossed in butter and we all shared. I loved the decadent spinach. My veg dish was deliciously oily which probably made it less healthy than I'd imagined when I ordered it! But life is for living. Chips and potatoes both added a tasty bit of carb to proceedings.

After all that, I couldn't eat another thing. I fancied Pannacotta but I definitely would have been far too full. One for another time.

If you like the original Fiesta Del Asado you'll like it here just as much. A win for anyone living on this side of the city who enjoys their meal. Thank you Paul Fulford and Fiesta Del Asado for the invite: I can tell it's going to be very successful here.  

Fiesta Del Asado, Shirley High Street

Photos by me except for the first two, which are courtesy of Fiesta Del Asado.

Food and drink were complimentary for review purposes.