Chung Ying Central on Colmore Row is one of Birmingham’s premier destinations for modern dim sum, traditional chinese dishes and quality cocktails. The restaurant has primarily been a destination for business clients and workers from the surrounding offices, but Chung Ying are gradually making updates to their menu to bring in some more traditional dishes, in line with their other branches. As diners move away from sticking with the ‘safe’ Katsu curry or chicken chow mein, allowing Ching Ying Central to get a little more creative. Myself and a selection of other bloggers were invited along to Bloggers Bites to test out the new menu items.
We were greeted with a Shanghai Rose cocktail (lychee, rose syrup, vodka), which was incredibly drinkable, as evidenced by the array of empty glasses by the end of the night. It was sweet, and reminded me of turkish delight.
First up to taste was the Szechuan “Dan Dan” Noodle, wheat noodles in broth with minced pork and prawns. Once we’d figured out how to get the noodles onto our plates without dropping them all over the table, general agreement was that these noodles are delicious. The chili oil added to them gives a pleasant background heat without being overpowering. I hear they’re also a favourite with one of Chung Ying’s owners, so you know they’re good.
Deep Fried Chicken Karaage with Honey and Garlic offers a twist on the ubiquitous fried chicken. Made used chicken thighs and deep fried in tempura batter, the chicken was packed with flavour. The sweet flavour of the honey was unexpected, but worked perfectly with the richer meat. With limited heat, this could be an excellent choice for kids, or for anyone in the party a bit suspicious of more traditional dishes. The chicken was a firm favourite with all the bloggers.
Next, we tried Pei Par Tofu. Be aware, despite the tofu, this is not a vegetarian dish. The tofus is combined with prawn and pork, and then deep fried, before serving with mushrooms and spring onion. The tofu is perfectly silken, with added crunch from the deep frying. Not convinced by tofu? Order this, and be converted. The tofu’s texture is pleasant, and soaks up so much flavour from the other ingredients.
Pan Fried Pork and Vegetable Steamed Bao are sweet buns filled with, surprise, pan fried fork and vegetables. The filling was delicious, with the saltiness contrasting nicely with the sticky sweet bun. Personally, I felt there was a little too much bun to filling ratio, but it wasn’t too stodgy despite this. The sweet bun was a little divisive, but those salt-sweet flavours are a Dim Sum classic.
Perhaps the most controversial dish of the night came next. Stuffed Pork Intestines in Salt and Chilli. Now, before turning your nose up, it’s worth remembering that most good quality sausages are made with intestines too; we just don’t name the product after that fact in the UK! For some, the idea of it was too much, but I found these really tasty. Anything with salt and chilli is a winner for me, and these were crisp and tasty. Almost like pork belly in texture, the flavour was rich and intense. Be brave and give these a try.
Last on the savoury side was X.O. Lap Cheong Fried Rice. Lap Cheong, or Chinese Sausage, is essentially the Chinese equivalent of Chorizo. It added plenty of flavour to the fried rice, which would be a great accompaniment to a main dish to share between a few of you.
As if we haven’t eaten enough, a selection of desserts hit the table. Chung Ying Central has a portion of it’s desserts supplied by Mrs Mills Makes Cakes. I am one of those odd people that can find things ‘too chocolatey’, so I skipped the Triple Chocolate Brownie, but judging from appreciative noises from Brummie Gourmand next to me, if you’re a chocolate fiend, this is an excellent choice. Instead, I dived into the Salted Caramel Brownie. Anything involving caramel is alright in my book, and this was excellent. Gooey, sweet, indulgent, and with plenty of caramel.
On the more traditional side of things, we also tried a Steamed Caramel Bun. The sweet bun had a filling of egg yolk and sugar to make a rich, caramel custard. I had expected this to be more oozy, whereas when I cut into it, it reminded me an over cooked poached egg in appearance. It was tasty though, but I don’t think I’d want the stodgy bun after a large meal. Lastly, we sampled Pan Fried Water Chestnut Paste. To me, this looked more like jelly than paste. Some of the bloggers loved this, finding it a refreshing palette cleanser, but for me, I couldn’t get my head round it. I wasn’t prepared for it to be warm, for some reason, and I found the chunks of water chestnut a weird texture against the soft jelly. It doesn’t taste of much either. Not for me.
Finally, as if I hadn’t drunk enough, there was Changyu Golden Diamond Vidal Ice Wine. Ice wine is made with grapes that have been frozen while still on the vine. This creates a sweeter, more concentrated wine. The wine had notes of lychee and honey, and was delicious, if syrupy and strong tasting. Definitely a dessert wine to be drunk sparingly!
I was a guest of Chung Ying Central and East Village PR. All words and opinions are entirely honest and my own.