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. 

Breakfast Al Desko, from Leon

I don’t understand people who can eat immediately after waking up. I need to have been awake a little while before I want anything except coffee. Because of this, I usually end up breakfast al desko, when I get to work. My office provides bread and fruit, and I keep porridge in my locker. Sometimes though, a little treat is in order.

Leon Al Desko

My commute involve walking through New Street Station, so I am tempted by a variety of cafes on the way. For a payday treat, I decided to pick up a something yummy for my breakfast al desko.

Leon is becoming a firm favourite of mine. Their food makes a nice change from your standard coffee shop chain, and there are of options that are pretty good for you, without compromising on taste.

Leon Coffee

I might be ready to eat, but coffee is still my morning priority. I always order a latte, although I am sad Leon don’t offer any of the coffee syrups. Their coffee is always excellent though, so I can forgive it. Being in the station, the branch I go to is always pretty busy, but I always find the service is quick and friendly. My latte was creamy and delicious, with a good strong taste. Leon pride themselves on using organic, fair trade coffee, and I think that pride shows. It’s also worth noting, if you’re taking the coffee away, that the cups are good and sturdy. Your coffee is still warm when you reach your desk, and they don’t use those good awful flimsy lids some places use. You knows the ones, they’ve split round the lip of the cup as soon as you get out the door so you end up with coffee down your jumper.

Healthy breakfast

I chose the Smoked Salmon and Avovado Egg Pot. With smoked salmon, smashed avocado and a free-range poached egg, with some black pepper, this is a light, nurtritious and delicious breakfast. I will eat anything involving a poached egg, a smashed avocado, or smoked salmon, so this is basically a perfect breakfast for me.

This pot makes a great start to the day with a real protein punch and all those healthy fats in the avocado. The portion isn’t huge, but I find it’s about right for me and the protein stops me from getting snacky halfway through the morning.

If you’re taking it away for a desk feast, you want to be sure it’s not going to leak everywhere. The breakfast pots are sturdy, with a decent lid, so you can get to your desk without a mishap. Despite being a poached egg, I also find these aren’t messy to eat. Everything taste excellent for a fast food option, with good ooze from the egg, plenty of black pepper and well flavoured salmon.

I paid in full at Leon. All opinions are honest and my own. They 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.