Taster Evening at the Ginga Ninja’s Noodle Shack

A new pop-up arriving on the scene in Birmingham is always exciting. We like our food here in Brum, and we like it even more if it’s got an air of being a secret.

The newest pop-up on the scene is The Ginga Ninja’s Noodle ShackIn fact, it’s so new, it’s still having taster evenings. The first taster was an intimate affair held at the home of the Ginga Ninja himself. For a second trial run, the small team took over the kitchen at Digbeth’s Mockingbird Cinema and Kitchen.

Ginga Ninja's Noodle Shack

Mike from the Ginga Ninja is actually a friend of mine, so when he asked for willing volunteers to come along, taste some noodles and give some feedback, there was no way I was missing out. Dave and I arrived to find Mockingbird full of people, but after a battle to the death for a table, we were ready to get our noodle on.

In these early stages, there are only two options; pork or tofu. We went for pork and two steaming bowls of ramen arrived.

Noodle pop-up

I was immediately struck by how colourful it looked in the bowl, with bright strips of the different vegetables, resting in a pile of gorgeous hand-made noodles and home-made broth. The pork looked delicious, in beautiful big pieces. Armed with my chopsticks, I tucked in.

Ramen pop-up

It tasted as good as it looked, with gorgeous deep flavour from the broth. The pork was juicy, and full of flavour. It was a great texture too; firm enough to grip in the chopsticks, but soft enough to get a clean bite through it, without struggling between sticks and teeth! All the veg was in a great size for chopstick eating too, even for the chopstick challenged like me. The egg was soft, and very slightly runny, just how I like it.

Ramen and Noodles

All in all, I was very impressed. With a bowl full of comforting noodles, rich broth and fresh flavours, how could I not be? Personally, I’d have liked just a dash more soy sauce, and maybe some chilli, but Mike assures me that next time, there’ll be a sauce station available so you can add in as much soy sauce as you like and enough hot sauce to melt your face off.

For a first public outing, The Ginga Ninja’s Noodle Shack is already knocking the socks off plenty of well established noodle houses. Currently they are only on Facebook, so make sure you give them a like so you’re in the know for their next appearance. I hear rumour that next time there may be dumplings…

As stated in the post, Mike of Ginga Ninja’s Noodle Shack is a friend of mine, but I was asked for my honest opinion. The evening was ‘pay what you feel’, and we did pay. I was not obliged to write a blog post. All pictures, words and opinions are honest and my own. 

Launch Party at Las Iguanas, Temple Street

A new member of the Las Iguanas family opened earlier this month, joining  The Botanist on Temple Street. Taking over a previously empty space, the new restaurant offers the same Latin American flavours as the rest of the famous chain.

Cocktail Bar

Las Iguanas

The newest venue is deceptively huge, with a brightly coloured bar area, with funky booths, for drinks and tapas. Carry on past the bar, and you find the main restaurant, where you can order from the full menu.

I headed along to the launch party, and was immediately greeted with a real taste of carnival, with these fabulous show girls awaiting us.

Cocktail masterclass

Caipirinha

Soon after arriving, I joined up with Bite Your BrumThe Owlet, and Devina May. We were whisked off for a mini cocktail masterclass, where we got to have a bash at making our own Caipirinha using Cachaça, which is a little like rum, but is made from fermented sugarcane juice. We muddled limes, we sloshed Cachaça about and stirred sugar, and some of us (cough, Bite Your Brum, cough) knocked entire jugs of ice over the table. We finished up with a pretty decent drink each.

Las Iguanas is famous for it’s Happy Hour, which last all day every day. You can choose any two cocktails from a selected list (they must be two the same) and get them two for one! They also offer a list of monthly specials which are also two for one.

Laura and I decided to share our choices. We started with the Watermelon Margarita which combines Olmeca Tequila, watermelon and lime. This looked impressive with it’s huge slice of watermelon, but it wasn’t really for me. It was tasty, but too sweet, and not terribly margarita like. I preferred the Ginger and Tequila Smash (Olmeco Reposado Tequila, vanilla, mint, ginger and chocolate bitters) which had a little more kick and nice warmth from the ginger.

Calamari

For a starter, I chose Calamares (£6.25) which is deep fried squid in crisp cayenne and cassava crumb with aioli. The squid was well cooked and not at all rubbery, with a good crispy, lightly spicy coating.

Sea Bass

For main, I ordered Sea Bass A Lo Macho (£14.95). A fillet of sea bass is served with mussels, crayfish and prawns in a white wine, spinach, paprika and cream sauce with spring onion rice. This was delicious, with flaky fish, and lots of the other seafood. The sauce was rich, and tasty, and I made short work of this dish.

Cocktails

Struggling to choose our next round of drinks, we turned to our waitress, telling her we both prefer our cocktails short and strong tasting. She suggested the Vanilla Mai Tai which is Havana Club Especial Rum, Absolut Vanilia Vodka, lime, almond and bitters. It was very tasty, but I wouldn’t have said it was strong tasting, instead leaning more to the sweet vanilla flavours. We also had a classic Cuba Libre (Havana Club 3 Year Old Rum, Coke and lime).

Las Iguanas on Temple Street is in a great spot for after work drinks, and with Happy Hour and great deals on tapas, a drink and a few nibbles would be the best way to use this new venue. The main menu is well put together, and from what I ate, very tasty, but with Bodega in the next street, and with slightly better prices, I do wonder if this Las Iguanas will be more popular for drinks, and not dining. We had an excellent time at the launch party though, and after watching them dance the Macarena, I ca vouch for the fun-loving nature of the staff.

I was invited to attend the launch party, where my food and drinks were complementary. I was not obliged to write a review. All pictures, words and opinions are my own, and entirely honest. 

Tom’s Kitchen, Birmingham

Fresh back from our incredible American adventure, and with a new engagement to celebrate, I wanted to book something a bit different to our usual choices for a special dinner. We’d visited Tom’s Kitchen on their launch night, and both liked it very much, so when I spotted a good deal for it on Book a Table, I went for it.

Tom's Kitchen

The deal I found offered 3 courses and a glass of Prosecco for £25 per person. We later realised the menu available with this deal is the same menu offered on the express lunch and pre-theatre offers (except with added prosecco), which is also a bit of a bargain. The options aren’t extensive, but there’s enough choices for everyone, I think.

The restaurant itself is lovely inside; all warm leather and references to the produce used in the food.

Tom's Kitchen

The bar seemed quite full, but the restaurant was actually empty when we arrived, so we had our pick of tables. I chose one by the kitchen, as I find being able to see in and watch the food being prepared is really interesting. Well chosen music and friendly staff stopped the empty restaurant from feeling void of all atmosphere, and other diners soon started arriving.

Prosecco

Chicken Rillettes

Tom's Kitchen starters

For starters, we both ordered Chicken Rillettes which come served with a fruit puree and pea shoots, on toast. If I was being fussy, I’d say my toast was a little over done, which made it hard to cut into, and I have to admit, I am fed up of being served things sitting on paper on boards. Any pressure from your knife, and the paper slides about and you have to work hard to cut your food instead of flinging it across the table by mistake. My desire for a plate aside, this was excellent. The pea shoots added lovely freshness, and the chicken was salty and flavoursome.

Pork Escalope

For a main course, I chose the Pork Escalope which comes with a niçoise salad and a soft boiled egg. Light and fresh, this dish was perfectly seasoned, with a well-dressed salad. The pork was still tender, and full of moisture. A perfect summer evening dish.

Grilled Mackerel Fillets

Dave’s Grilled Mackerel Fillets came with a herb crust, crushed tarragon potatoes and gribiche sauce. It looked very tempting on the plate, and the piece of fish I stole was flaky and perfectly cooked. Dave reported that the fish was beautifully seasoned and the potatoes were soft and fluffy.

Truffle fries

We decided to split a portion of Triple Cooked Chips with the addition of truffle, which were honestly the absolute highlight of the meal. The chips were huge, and fluffy inside, and crispy outside. The added truffle brought so much extra flavour, and like everything else we ate at Tom’s, the seasoning was perfection. These were easily the best chips I’ve ever eaten.

Raspberry Parfait

For dessert, we both chose the Iced Raspberry Parfait which come with honeycomb, meringue, pistachio and mango sorbet. Almost too pretty to eat, this dish was colourful and summery on the plate. The parfait was creamy, and perfectly paired with the tangier sorbet.

We had an excellent evening at Tom’s Kitchen, and with the deal, a very reasonably priced one! I’ve seen this deal on Book A Table a lot, so it’s worth checking what offers are on there if you are thinking of booking a table at Tom’s Kitchen. I promise I’m not affiliated with them at all; I just love their deals, and book most of our restaurant meals through them.

Our meal was paid for in full by ourselves, aside from an extra glass of fizz as a congratulations from our waitress on our engagement. All opinions are honest and my own, or extracted from Dave. They didn’t know I was a blogger.