for oodles of noodles and delectable dim sum in birmingham, it is essential that you pay a visit to chung ying. with the original chung ying founded over thirty years ago, the family run business now has three bustling restaurants across the city all serving outstanding cantonese cuisine day and night.
i headed to chung ying central, which as the name suggests is set in the heart of the city near to the financial district. as well as an assortment of dim sum and oriental mains, the contemporary restaurant boasts a host of oriental inspired cocktails including one for each sign of the zodiac.
born in 1988, mine would be dragon eye; an explosive drink of goldshlager, chilli, coriander, lime and cranberry juice garnished with lychee. wow, perhaps lucky i was driving. i ordered a flowering green tea cocktail jasmine with love (£3.95), an unexpectedly albeit beautifully presented jasmine green tea with an ornate flower which activated with the boiling water.
my dining companion left me in charge of the starters so i ordered a medley of dim sum and more recognisable chinese appetisers for us to begin. i absolutely love steamed dumplings, siu mai and char siu buns so i opted for the king prawn and chive dumplings (£4.00), pork & king prawn siu mai (£4.00), sesame prawn toast (£6.00) and a ginger & spring onion hand dived steamed scallop (£3.50).
all were happily gobbled up with an abundance of soy sauce. unsurprisingly the king prawn and chive dumplings were my favourite (i often make a similar recipe of king prawn gyozas at home but with a different dumpling style), closely followed by the appetising siu mai. the zesty scallop steeped in ginger was a really treat and a bit of a novelty, but nonetheless delicious. the western favourite of sesame prawn toast was exactly as you'd expect, crunchy, tasty and a little bit salty.
for second course i disregarded my beloved dim sum in favour of sampling their oriental a la carte. i went for crispy pork belly (£9) with steamed rice (£3.00) and sam selected the crispy shredded beef in chilli sauce (£12) with vermicelli singapore style (£4.00).
sam dived into his chilli beef and spice noodles, declaring them the perfect cure for his lingering cold. fresh, colourful and spicy. the crispy pork belly was indulgent, moreish and a joy to eat. and what great value for £9, might i add. i think i could have done with a choice of sauce rather than the chilli and soy, since the accompanying chillies were seriously hot and something sweet and glazed along the lines of hoisin, 5 spice or black bean would have complemented it so well. i know, i know, i'm a wimp. instead a splash of soy sauce was all it needed to add moisture and lift the salty flavours.
one of the brothers who own the group of restaurants said the crispy belly pork was one of his favourite dishes, explaining that a chef has fashioned a special spiky hammer tool which makes around 50-100 holes in the skin for getting the pork so crispy. that may or may not have been confidential information there, but there you go. exclusive pork news.
something i'd spied on the dim sum menu earlier on was the sweet alternative of caramel steamed buns. i asked the waitress about these and she assured me that people actually usually order these along with the other bamboo steamer delights. that just seems bizarre to me as mixing sweet and savoury courses is a sin. instead i saved the sweet treats for dessert, coming in at £4.00.
a loved the soft and almost stick-to-the-roof-of-your-mouth texture of the buns. the inside was very sweet and a lot tastier than it looks, however i was hoping for a more caramel sauce vibe.
overall a fantastic cantonese restaurant for dim sum fanatics and cocktail lovers alike, with a few more recognisable dishes for those who aren't ready to try chicken feet just yet.
what are chung ying and chung ying garden like i hear you ask? well, i'll have to book a table there too, just to check.
find out more about the city with this birmingham city guide.
what is your favourite dim sum dish? do you have a go-to restaurant? if you're more ever leicestershire way, you must try the basin too.
chung ying central
126 colmore row
note: this piece was written as part of a bloggers guide to birmingham city guide and my meal was paid for by millenium hotels.