Sunday, 29 March 2015

Cocktails & Dining at Chung Ying Central

I have spent many a lovely night over the years down in Birmingham’s Chinese Quarter at Chung Ying and Chung Ying Garden Restaurants.  Sometimes marking the occasion of Chinese New Year or just enjoying time with friends over a quality meal.

Although there are many restaurants in the Chinese Quarter, both Chung Ying outlets really do hold court in the area and have earned themselves a well-respected reputation.  Taking the Chung Ying brand half a mile further into the heart of the city centre, owner James Wong has opened Chung Ying Central in the business district on Colmore Row capturing a new clientele.

Upon arrival, warmly welcomed by James and his team, we were shown to our table.  The first thing I noticed was how different it was to the décor of the other Chung Ying restaurants, more contemporary bronze & black with a few hints of oriental symbolism but very discreet, as opposed to the vivid reds & golds in the other restaurants.  Both appeal to me and I liked seeing this style in comparison.

I had been told about the fabulous cocktails at Chung Ying Central, which incidentally are very popular amongst the post-work crowd, and we decided to sample a couple for ourselves.  With a special mixologist on-site, James explained he wants to have that dedicated resource in-situ to manage the cocktail making side of the business.  This allows those with only a short amount of time to pop in, have one of their renowned cocktails, yet still be able to sample the Chung Ying ambience and it does brand itself as a Bar & Restaurant thus capturing the drinkers and the diners.
One of the interesting things that Chung Ying Central has produced is a menu of 12 cocktails that reflects the Chinese Zodiac, with each one embracing the characteristics of the sign it is made for.  The Dragon one has fierier flavours for example.

Year of the Tiger & Year of the Rabbit Cocktails

Dining with My Carnivourous Husband (MCH), he had the Year of the Rabbit cocktail denoting his year of birth and that was called ‘Fluffy Cottontail’ and consisted of Bombay Sapphire, Cointreau, passoa liqueur and egg white.  I had Year of the Tiger which was called a ‘Crouching Tiger Mai Tai’ which consisted of light and dark rum, tropical juices, lime juice and orgeat syrup.  We agreed these were a fabulous idea and a great talking point! 
South China Breeze Cocktail
For my next cocktail, turning to my passion for vodka, I chose a South China Breeze which contained Absolut Mandarin Vodka, pink grapefruit juice, lychee syrup and angostura Bitters.  MCH decided to leave the spirits behind and nurturing his love for all things ale, he had the TsingTao beer which is a beer he has from time to time anyway and so he knew he’d enjoy it.
Chiu Chow Dim Sum
Another reason for the restaurant’s popularity is their Dim Sum menu.   Again, like with the cocktails, dim Sum make for the perfect snack solution for those with a limited timeframe.

Spring Rolls & Fun Gor Dim Sum
So, MCH and I decided to sample a few dim sum as appetisers.  The dim sum menu was split into Meat and Vegetarian choices which made deciphering them a lot easier for us both and our waitress gave us an insight into what each one was as on the menu it named them but without descriptions. We had the Spring Rolls and the Fun Gor and Chiu Chow ones were mixed vegetable based.  All lovely, MCH had the sweet & sour chilli based dipping sauce, but with my chilli allergy, I was given a hoisin sauce instead which offered a sweet aftertaste contrasting with the vegetable fillings.

Talking through my allergies with James and the team, they were very accommodating and said that if customers flag in their allergies, they will do their utmost to work round them and provide a meal that suits.
Vegetarian Yuk Sung
With a good list of starters to choose from, I opted for the Vegetarian Yuk Sung which although wasn’t on the menu, it can be requested.  I’ve written my own yuk sung recipes in the past as I love it and I relish any opportunity to have it made for me.  It came without spices/chilli (as per my wishes) and it had a nice blend of flavours and a nice contrast against the crisp iceberg lettuce leaves.
Salt & Chilli Spare Ribs
MCH had the Salt & Chilli Spare Ribs and he said it was a generous portion, with a plentiful amount of meat on each rib.  The salt & chilli coating was just right both in terms of seasoning and quantity.
King Prawns with Garlic & Fresh Chilli
For the main course, MCH chose King Prawns with Garlic & Fresh Chilli.  He stated that the prawns were tender and delicate and the sweet smelling sauce was flavoured perfectly and was very tasty.
Salt & Pepper Stuffed Aubergines
Steering away from the predictability of choosing chow mein,  (which I tend to do) when I saw my favourite vegetable (aubergines) were on the menu I was delighted and went ahead with ordering it as my main course, especially as I found out  it doesn’t feature on the other Chung Ying menus.  They were Salt & Pepper Stuffed Aubergines.  Sliced, with tofu on top and then cooked with a salt & pepper batter coating.  I ordered mine as a non-spicy portion.  The coating was light, not greasy and the seasoning was just right, enough flavour from both elements without it being overpowering.  The amount of tofu in each slice parcel was just enough as well.  It needed something to go with it, so the suggested sharing portions of egg fried rice and noodles as side dishes were welcomed.
Mango & Lemon Sorbets
The dessert menu didn’t feature any Chinese delicacies from what I could see, but we opted for lemon and mango sorbet respectively to act as palette cleansers which were a refreshing way to end the meal.
We had an early reservation and as our visit drew to an end, the restaurant had filled up with diners replacing those that had finishing dining too.  One thing I noted was James went out of his way to personally bid each person goodbye and to thank them for their custom, which I was impressed with.

Overall a lovely, hospitable restaurant, in an elegant setting with staff who are very knowledgeable and who offer a quick service.  Plenty of choice available, including a wealth of vegetarian options that can be tailored-made if needs be whether you’re having a banquet or just dim sum with cocktails.
Disclosure:    This post has been written following a kind invitation from Chung Ying Central to sample their menu.    This review was conducted honestly without bias and I was not required to produce a positive review.  For further details of my PR policy, please see the Press, PR & Food Writing page of this website. 

No comments:

Post a Comment