by Julie Wallis twitter.com/Nicenic63
Visiting Chi Kitchen at Debenhams, Bullring Birmingham
Chi Kitchen is on the third floor of Debenhams at Bullring Birmingham, near the Bullring bridge link. Its a light, bright space, decorated in contemporary tones of blue. It could all be too easily missed or dismissed, as just a department store restaurant, but once you try the delicious food on offer, I’m willing to bet you will return.
Offering an assortment of Asian cuisines from Malaysia, Thailand, China, Japan and Korea, there is something for everyone no matter what your tastes are.
The floor to ceiling windows offer a view of Birmingham Bullring, and you can see all the way down to the pagoda which marks the edge of Birmingham’s Chinatown. The light floods the dining area, with plenty of natural light. This restaurant has an upbeat and friendly vibe, matched by the friendly and knowledgeable staff.
We were a party of 9, here to celebrate Chinese new year. After a warm welcome from the guest chef, Masterchef winner, Ping Coombes and our host and restaurant owner Eddie Lim, our welcome drinks arrived. When all the diners were in attendance, mandarin orange cocktails were served with an explanation of “mandarin juice is golden and gold is considered good luck”
We went to the bustling Bullring indoor market where Ping explained how we could use the various exotic fruits, vegetables, seafood and even pre-packed snacks in our home cooking. This vibrant market is well worth checking out if you’re an adventurous home cook for some excellent additions to your homemade stir fry. We have all used pak choi but how many of us use jackfruit or stinky beans?
Back to the restaurant, and Ping made a traditional New year celebration salad, apparently the higher we tossed the salad, the better our new year would be. Once again explaining the importance of 8 vegetables, as 8 is a lucky number. So chopsticks, at the ready, we soon found out who the best tossers were. Ping then demonstrated how to make moneybags, with spring roll pastry and minced chicken, after which, we all tried our hand at making our own moneybags with a prize for the best. Surprisingly easy, I shall be making these at home.
Ping has a natural charm, a friendly openness and she is clearly in her element once she is in the kitchen. She greeted me, as if I was an old friend, and spent time chatting about her family, her dress choice for the day, her holiday and of course her upcoming book.
Watching her food demonstration, was a real delight, making everything seem so easy she was very encouraging of our efforts at making moneybags. I definitely came away with a few ideas I shall be trying at home and with a little more knowledge of what to buy at the market.
The variety of food we were served was spectacular, aperitifs laid out to look like peacock tails, chicken satay and various sushi rolls. Mains were Salt & pepper baby squid, prawn sesame spring rolls, duck & watermelon salad, nyona chicken curry and roti, udang harimau (prawns in coconut), Chi kitchen special rice. Desserts: lime and lychee cheesecake and apple gyozas with vanilla ice cream. Everything was so tasty, fresh and delicious!
Chi Kitchen owner Eddie proudly told me he uses only the freshest ingredients with no mono-sodium glutamate. Eddie has a genuine passion for his food and his restaurants.
Chi kitchen is yet another jewel in the Crown of Birmingham’s foodie fiesta – don’t let it remain a hidden gem.
Find Chi Kitchen at chikitchen.co.uk
Julie visited Chi Kitchen on behalf of BrumHour and was invited by Big Cat Group. Julie’s view is honestly held and she has not been paid to say lovely things about it.