Yakinori, Birmingham

On Saturday, Dave and I both had super hectic days. I spent my day at a toy shop in Coventry dressed as a Disney Princess (cosplay life!) and Dave was with the Geeky Brummie team, working at a convention. I had booked a cheap deal at Las Iguanas, but we got there and found we’d been seated in the bar area instead of the restaurant next to a shrieking table pf drunk teenagers and what had sounded like a really good deal turned out to be a pitifully small selection of the menu, so we left. Hungry and grumpy, we decided to just head to Grand Central and eat at one of the chainy places. And then I remembered Yakinori.

Yakinori, Birmingham

Yakinori is the sister company to Woktastic, with a focus on traditional noodles and sushi, fusion dishes and bento boxes. I’ve eaten their excellent takeaway bento boxes a couple of times, but I’ve never eaten in the restaurant. The branch in Grand Central is small, with only a few tables, and some counter seating. Despite the fact it was a Saturday, we got a table immediately and were served quickly by a friendly server.

We decided to order sushi, and were presented with a selection of soy sauce, wasabi and a huge tub of pickled ginger to accompany it, and some little dishes to put all these extras in.

Sushi Rolls Birmingham

The Soft Shell Crab Roll (£3) was so full of flavour. The crab meat was rich and tasty, and perfectly offset by the creamy avocado. The Chicken Katsu Roll (£2.50) is so rammed full of chicken it was almost difficult to keep hold of (although maybe that’s me and my chopstick skills). There was plenty of katsu sauce which had somehow avoided making the rice soggy. Again, very tasty.

Sashimi Birmingham

We also ordered the Yakinori Sashimi platter (£14.99), which has salmon, seared coriander and sesame tuna, hokkigai, ama-ebi, seared scallops and octopus. I love sashimi and this beautifully presented. It looked so pretty on the plate. I did find the octopus was absolute rubber and I had to give up on attempting to chew it, but Dave fared much better with the piece he tried, so I may have just been unlucky. The Hokkigai (or ‘surf clam’) was a new one for me. It tasted excellent, but the texture was a little chewy for my taste. Everything else on the plate was beautiful though. It was delicately flavoured and so good. Tuna sashimi is one of my absolute favourites, and the addition of the sesame went perfectly with the strong tuna flavour. The light searing was a nice touch too.

All in all, we were very impressed. The service was fast and friendly, and we could see our server happily explaining the menu to other diners and making suggestions, including for changes to the dishes, so it’s obviously a good pick if you’re new to this kind of food, or have any dietary requirements. It was incredibly good value for money too. For two of us, including soft drinks, we paid just under £25. Bargain. We will definitely be back.

We paid in full at Yakinori. All opinions are honest and my own. Yakinori didn’t know I was a blogger. 

An Evening at Sabai Sabai, Harborne

As a blogger, I find myself at all sorts of events, and sometimes get invited somewhere alongside press, PRs and general important types, which is obviously very different from your standard blogger event.

Sabai Sabai in Harborne (they also have a branch in Moseley) invited a selection of friends, bloggers, PRs, press and foodie types to celebrate the launch of their new menu.

Sabai Sabai

Sabai Sabai offer modern Thai cuisine, and I’ve actually being meaning to go and try it out for a while. I adore Thai food, and we live very near the Harborne restaurant. It’s one I’ve walked past and looked at longingly on many an occasion…

The restaurant itself is lovely inside, with huge windows letting the sunshine pour in. I arrived straight from work, hot, flustered and very ready for a drink. The restaurant manager appeared almost instantly, and welcomed me to Sabai Sabai. At this point, I still hadn’t realised it wasn’t all bloggers, so after I’d made a bit of a tit myself by answering  the “Where are you from?: question with where I lived, and not the fact I was a blogger, the nice man took pity on me and guided me to the bar.

Golden Bags at Sabai Sabai

As it was more of a networking style event, I found myself juggling bag, jacket, phone, drink and camera, so I didn’t actually photograph anything except canapes. Blogger problems…

I started with a cocktail I didn’t learn the name of, but I think was a twist on a Bellini, with what tasted like Lychee. Whatever it was, it was light and cool, and hit the spot coming in from the hot bus!

Thai food in Birmingham

I tracked down Charlotte from LilMissChickas, and Helen from Positive Fridays. We set up a bloggers’ corner, near the door, and promptly made a pile of bags and cameras, so we had enough hands to attack the passing trays of canapes.

It’s always hard to get a real of a menu from canapes, and from speaking to the staff, it seemed Sabai Sabai had made some changes to main menu dishes to make them canape friendly.

Canapes Sabai Sabai

Everybody bearing a tray laden with food was excellent. They were all very patient with us awkward bloggers making them hold things at photogenic angles, and happily talked us through each canape and the ingredients. Unfortunately, I have a memory like a sieve but I can tell you that the Golden Bags (fried parcels stuffed with marinated prawns and chicken) were the stand out. They were full to bursting with lightly spicy prawns, with just enough heat. The Thai Calamari was excellent too, though not for the faint of heart, as this dish was much spicier.

Sabai Sabai Birmingham

Larger portions of wings, fish and drunken noodles began to appear, all perfectly cooked and delicious.

I always find it hard to write up events like this, as of course, it is not the typical experience for a regular visitor to the restaurant. I still don’t really feel I’ve ‘tried’ Sabai Sabai, but my experience has pushed it further up my list to make sure I do go and eat there properly.

Everything we ate was excellent and the surroundings lovely, but what really stood out was the staff. Squeezing through a crowd with a tray of canapés is not easy, but they were all welcoming, friendly and knowledgeable. I would love to go back and review Sabai Sabai properly, as I get the feeling it would be a fantastic evening.

Have you been to Sabai Sabai? What did you think?

I was a guest of Sabai Sabai and Delicious PR. All opinions are honest and my own. 

 

 

Summer Menu Tasting at Marmalade, Birmingham

An invite to a Bitters N Twisted venue should always be accepted. You can guarantee good company, tasty food and lashings of booze. When Marmalade asked if I’d like to try out the new summer menu, I of course said YES.

Marmalade, Birmingham

Based in the Rep Theatre, Marmalade has a decor that reminds you of a cross between a stage set, a cool bar and your nan’s living room. Trust me, it works.

We were welcomed with a new cocktail. As usual, I have forgotten the name of this, and I can’t find it on the drinks menu, but it was kaffir lime liquer and tonic. It was very, very tasty. Light, refreshing, and perfect for summer evenings. Very drinkable!

Marmalade menu

Fish in Birmingham

The starters were served buffet style, with sharing platters, and mini versions of the full size starters. Marmalade prides itself on offering vegetarian and fish options that are as good as the meat options, so we started off with a taste of some of the fishy starters.

We tried the Fish Sharing Platter (£14), which serves two. Served on a board, the  platter has tequila cured salmon, potted mackerel, calamari, rollmops, lemon tartare and crispy bread. Despite the fact I like fish, this isn’t something I would order normally, but I definitely will now! Everything on it was delicious. The calamari was perfectly cooked; crisp without a hint of rubberiness. The potted mackerel I could have just eaten the whole jar with a spoon. Flavourful, without being overpoweringly fishy. If you do like fish, I highly recommend this.

The fish starters were accompanied by the Paloma Faith (£7) which is tequila, dry vermouth and agave syrup, topped with grapefruit Ting. If you like your cocktails to actually taste of alcohol, this is a good pick. Pleasingly boozy, but fresh enough to cut through all that fish.

Marmalade Starters

Vegetarian Starters

Cocktails in Birmingham

Next was canape versions of two of the starters. The Rabbit and Ham Hock Terrine (£5.95) was a little rich and gamey for my taste, but seemed to go down a treat with the others. The accompanying orange and vermouth marmalade was excellent though; sweet and sticky.

The Heritage Tomato and Goats Cheese Salad, (£6.25) served with taparnade, is the perfect summer starter. I love tomatos, so this is a great starter for me.

These starters were joined by a Cherry Orchard (£7). This cocktail is vodka, sweet vermouth,  cherry syrup and cranberry juice. It was a little sweet for me, but still tasty. Excellent for those with more of a sweet tooth.

Main courses Marmalade

Flexitarian dishes

Vegetarian dishes

We got to try mini versions of the four new main courses on the summer menu. The Sweet Potato Curry (£11.50) is vegan, and is packed with fresh, tasty veg. I’d have liked a little more heat, but with it’s subtle warmth, this is sure to be a crowd pleaser. My favourite was the Trout and Smoked Haddock Fishcakes (£13.50). Topped with a poached duck egg, the fishcakes are a very generous size, and fried beautifully.  The Free Range Chicken Supreme (£13.75) was almost sweet, with a wholegrain mustard cider sauce. The Teriyaki Salmon (£14.75) would be perfect for a pre-theatre dinner. The dish was simple, served with wild rice, but would be a good filling option to eat, that wouldn’t sit heavy and make you sleepy when the house lights go down.

There was, naturally, another cocktail paired with all this. This time it was Noises Off (£7), which is gin, vermouth and elderflower topped with sparkling apple. This is another great choice for a summer drink. Fruity and refreshing.

Dessert at Marmalade

Negroni

As if all that wasn’t enough, dessert arrived. Afogatto or vanilla ice cream with a shot of espresso to pour over, is the perfect round off to a big meal. The vanilla ice cream was excellent, and I was impressed to see they even had a dairy free ice cream for the dairy free diner with us that night.

To finish us off, (and wow did it), the My Fair Negroni. Be warned, with gin, Suze gentian liquer and vermouth, this is strong. It tastes strong too, and I only drank about half of mine and had to give up. If I hadn’t already drunk several cocktails, I would have managed it, but this is definitely one to buy and drink slowly.

As always, we had an excellent evening at Marmalade. Pop along and try out their new summer menu.

I was a guest of Marmalade, invited to try out the new summer menu in exchange for my thoughts. All opinions are honest and my own.