Chi Kitchen is a food journey through South East Asia. A Pan Asian Fusion restaurant, the menu has dishes inspired by China and Japan, Korea, Malasyia and Thailand and is a complete culinary taste experience. I was invited along to the Birmingham Branch, which can be found in Debenhams in the Bullring, and found myself eating some of the best food I have ever eaten. This is definitely a restaurant that I could return to again and again.
The restaurant itself is located within Debenhams, but get rid of any ideas that this is a department store food court, the restaurant is stylish and sophisticated, with a large bar and open kitchen, and you totally forget that you are in a store at all. However, the location does make it ideal for long, leisurely lunches and a dinner reservation after shopping.
We started our lunch with a Champagne cocktail, my Kir Royal was deliciously fruity, whilst my mom opted for a champagne fizz which was dry and crisp.
We were well looked after by the assistant manager Farhan Muzaffar. His knowledge and passion for the menu, which has been created by Masterchef winner Ping Coombs, is both illuminating and infectious – you really want to try the dishes that he suggests, and Farhan was able to answer pretty much any question about the dishes and the menu. With his recommendations, we were able to create a dining experience that covered all bases – including many different meat and fish dishes, elements of spice and heat, and lots of creamy Asian flavours which would suit those who prefer their flavours without heat.
We started with a selection from sharing platters and Dim Sum and Sashimi menus. The Barbecue starter platter is a Summer special that is only available until the end of the month, combining barbecue chicken wings, fish balls, beef skewers and the most delicious, melt in your mouth Sea bass. Everything was cooked to perfection, and offered lots of different taste sensations. Popcorn shrimp was amazing, with the Wasabi mayonnaise offering a kick that totally had the thumbs up from our party. Another revelation was the Salt and Pepper Baby Squid. I have never been a fan of squid, but this was awesome – full of delicious flavour, but not chewy or rubbery, as I usually find it.
Farhan also helped us create a menu of main courses that showed the diversity of the menu. The Sea bass with chilli and lime had been marinated in garlic and lemongrass, so was already exquisite in its flavours, but when combined with a lime and seafood sauce it was totally delectable. The Korean Steak is another fabulous dish, especially when teamed with creamy chive mash, whilst the Udang Harimau was a success with my mom, due to the creamy coconut sauce. This is very coconut – covered in desiccated flakes, so this is perfect if you love juicy prawns with a milder flavour.
The rice dishes offered by Chi Kitchen are a meal in themselves. Huge portions of Nasi Goreng, complete with the customary fried egg and the fruity pineapple flavour was very popular, but I also loved the Special fried rice that was packed with chicken, duck and prawns.
One of my favourite dishes on the menu is also one of the cheapest. The Roti that is served with a Malaysian curry sauce is street food at its best – just £4.95 per portion and a really popular choice on the menu. I loved this, real finger food with the roti designed to be dipped in the curry and wiped around the bowl. When I return to Chi Kitchen this will be on my food list for sure.
Even though we were all totally stuffed to bursting by this point, we had to try the beautiful desserts which are all created by a French chef on site. The white chocolate ice cream was sublime, it really tasted like a melted milky bar, whilst the mango cheesecake was both creamy and rich in flavour. The presentation of the desserts was, as with all dishes, simply beautiful.
Chi Kitchen offers food of the highest quality combined with service that is helpful, knowledgeable and efficient. If your taste is for the culinary delights of South East Asia, Chi Kitchen is a place you really need to try…and soon.
Chi Kitchen, Level 3, Upper Mall West, Bullring, Birmingham, B5 4BL | Tel: 0121 796 5888