Review – Chi Kitchen Birmingham

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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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

Pizza and Cider at The Stable, Birmingham

The sun was shining on the hottest day of the year, so what better time to take part in a special blogger event at one of Birmingham’s newest food destinations?  The Stable specialises in pizza and pies, all of which contain local produce as much as possible, and have fabulous, locally inspired names. The Stable group also serve a great array of ciders to accompany your food, making dining a delicious rustic experience.

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The Stable is a cool, industrial style venue, with benches and neon signs (my favourite proclaiming that this is Birmingham’s Cathedral to Cider). The menu is unusual and fun, with dishes like ‘The Bournville Bantam’ and ‘TheLonghorn Jim’ all giving a nod to the history and culture of Birmingham. There is also seating outside, perfect for enjoying any one of the 80 Cider’s (Yes that does say 80!) that The Stable offers on beautiful, sunny days.

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We started the day with a really interesting talk and taste session with Alan from Hogan’s Cider. There were lots of opportunity to taste a variety of flavours that ranged from very strong Scrumpy types (a bit of an acquired taste), to bottled fizzy varieties and even a cider brandy that would be just gorgeous on a cold Winter’s night. The ciders had weird and wonderful names like ‘Hazy Daisy’ and ‘French Revelation’ and showed the range and depth in flavour you can find if you steer clear of the flavoured brands on offer in supermarkets and many pubs and bars.

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After drinking far too much Cider on an almost empty stomach, it was time to indulge in the other passion of The Stable – Pizza. But, this being a bloggers event, there was an actual chance to get into the kitchen and prepare our own. The base and sauce was thankfully done so we then chose our own toppings and had a go at getting the base into the huge ovens (not as easy as it sounds when the base is so thin – just the way I like my pizzas.)

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I chose cheese, peppers, roasted onions and spinach for my pizza, which, after just 3 minutes in the oven, was ready and tasted absolutely delicious (even if I say so myself).  There were so many choices of cheese that could be added to the pizza, along with all the other toppings I literally was spoilt for choice, but loved the pizza I made – I had to rush off so scoffed it on the train!

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The Stable is a great addition to the Birmingham food scene, and one which I will be trying again very soon. The chilled atmosphere and great food makes it a must visit next time you’re in the city.

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Lasan – A jewel in Birmingham’s food crown

It makes me totally ashamed, as a foodie, to admit that, until yesterday, I had never tried the fragrant delights of Lasan, the restaurant judged by Gordon Ramsey to be the best local restaurant in the UK. Well, it is safe to say that although this was my first visit, it will most definitely not be my last. The food, service and setting were all, quite simply, perfection.

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Lasan is situated just off Birmingham’s St Paul’s Square. The restaurant has a cool, contemporary decor with large picture windows helping the light to flood in. There are a selection of tables of varying sizes, certainly making this a wonderful place to choose for a large family occasion. I was dining with my sister so a small table was sufficient, but this was roomy enough for all of the food and drink that we ordered.

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We visited the restaurant at lunchtime and so soft drinks and hot coffee were the beverages of choice, particularly as the weather was so horrendous, with the snow pouring down during our stay. The service was brisk but very friendly, the waiter and Maitre D were chatty and also helpful in helping us make our food choices, asking about our taste and palette for spice and flavours.

We started with a pre-starter selection of poppadoms, dips and a gorgeous Amuse Bouche that consisted of a poppadom style shell filled with chick peas and tomato masala, tamarind and a mint style sauce. This was just delicious, the flavours came through the sauce with a surprise kick at the end. I loved this so much I used my poppadom to mop up the excess sauce that had dropped onto my plate.

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My sister and I are both spinach lovers, and often go for the vegetarian option on a menu, we were also keen to try paneer, so we opted to share a vegetarian platter which consisted of sweetcorn fritters, Onion bhajis, Potato cakes, marinated Paneer cubes and, our personal favourite, a spinach pakora. All were delicious, the paneer had been marinated in a tomato sauce and had a slightly toasty taste that I loved. The Potato tikki was also exquisite, with a taste of spice that was flavoursome rather than overpowering. Everything had me smiling and nodding in delight, there was nothing that made me reach for the water.

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For our main meals, we both opted for chicken dishes. I like my curries to be full of flavour but slightly milder in terms of spice, so the Kukkar Makhani was perfect for me, with its blend of honey and cashew nuts and yoghurt. I expected this dish to be sweet, but it was perfectly balanced, with the smokiness of the tandoor roasted meat blending in perfectly with the sauce. With soft and fluffy pilau rice, this was a really pleasing dish, with a sauce that I couldn’t resist mopping up with a selection of breads from the bread basket.

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My sister Jodie chose a different chicken dish, the Dopiaza Murgh, which consisted of free range Cotswold white chicken cooked two ways, slow braised leg and roasted supreme marinated in chilli and pomegranate seed. This was s served with caramelised shallots, wilted onion shoots and, most exciting, a classic Kolkata style dopiaza gravy. The presentation was amazing, and the tastes certainly lived up to the appearance, with the chicken soft and tender and packed with flavour, particularly the slow braised leg. The Dopiaza sauce was a delight, with the taste of tomato and onions a real treat for the palette. We’d been advised that one rice would be plenty for two, and this was proved when we couldn’t actually finish it. The term pleasantly stuffed has never been more aptly used.

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Lasan is a jewel in Birmingham’s proud jewel crown, with food of the highest standard that is complimented by the knowledgeable staff who add to your experience with their advice and information about the dishes on offer. I left Lasan feeling like I had been truly blessed in the gastronomic stakes by a meal it will take a long time to forget.

 

Lasan Restaurant, 3-4 Dakota Buildings | James Street | St Paul’s Square | BIRMINGHAM B3 1SD | TEL: 0121 212 3664 | 0121 247 8570

To visit the Lasan Website, click here.

*We received a complimentary meal in exchange for a honest review.