The Other Side of Brum Chinatown

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Suckling piglet and rice £8.60

Chinese food, you’re probably getting bored of it by now. Takeaway sweet and sour pork comes way down the fast food list after curry, Nandos, KFC and new wave “streetfood”. Going out for a meal? Sesame prawn toast, chow mein, lemon chicken, shredded crispy duck and all the other Anglicised Chinese food is seen as the safe option for a crowd with fussy eaters. But it doesn’t have to be like this. The Chinese food that I know has never been like that anyway. With more and more mainland Chinese folk living in the city, the options are expanding beyond the watered down Cantonese fare we all grew up eating in the UK. Fiery mouth numbing dishes from Sichuan, mutton skewers from the North, hotpots and hand-pulled noodles. Never let them show you the English menu ever again. I’ve written guides about the great mainstream food you can get in Birmingham Chinatown but now here’s a guide to get really under the crispy crackling skin of Chinatown. Continue reading

Sheng Jian Bao 生煎包

Dumplings like

 

I remember the first streetfood experience we had in Taiwan were these Sheng Jian Bao. They are incredible pan fried dumplings filled with juicy pork. It set the tone really for what was an incredible eating holiday. Sheng Jian Bao are a Shanghai speciality related closely to the more famous Xiao Long Bao soup dumplings. The filling is identical, the difference is that the wrapping is a yeasted dough and they’re pan fried with a crispy bottom. Much more robust than XLB. So if you’re rubbish with chopsticks you’re less likely to burst them and lose Chineser points. Continue reading

Beef Dan Dan Mian 牛肉擔擔麵

The nine step plan

Chinese fast food, a bowl of Dan Dan Mian, so simple yet utterly delicious. How fast and simple?

  1. Put sesame sauce, light & dark soy sauce, any chilli oil you like and ground Sichuan pepper into a bowl. All to taste and mix.
  2. Fry minced beef until brown with whole Sichuan pepper, dried chilli, light soy and Tianjian preserved veg (optional). Set aside.
  3. Cook noodles (or make them), add to the bowl, top with the cooked beef. Mix and devour.
  4. For a Nigel Slateresque twist replace beef mince with, er, any other mince you like.

Simples, faster than a takeaway but not as fast as this blog!

Happy new year! 恭禧發財

Birmingham Chinatown Roast Meat Battle II

The window to my soul

I could probably eat a whole Cantonese roast duck by myself as my final meal, I’d slip away happy and content. It’s not an extravagance, all you’d have to do for me is go to any Chinatown and pick one up from a roast meat shop. But imagine if you went to the wrong shop, I’d curse you with my last breath. Real soul food is comfort food unique to oneself, only you know what makes that dish just right and satisfies your soul. So in as much as it’s in my own interests that you buy me the best roast duck you can possibly find on my last day (hopefully not soon) here’s an updated Birmingham Chinatown Roast Meat Battle. You might also find it useful when deciding where to eat the best dish Birmingham has to offer, triple roast rice 三燒飯, which includes crispy belly pork 火腩, char siu pork 叉燒 as well as roast duck 燒鴨.
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Duck Egg Noodles and Chilli Duck Ramen

Duck egg noodles

Homemade duck egg noodles

Ramen, at the moment it’s everybody’s favourite noodle. And why not? Cheap and delicious. An everyday Japanese dish with so much variation and endless refinement there’s something for every taste. For me, a bowl of Hakata style tonkotsu is my favourite ramen. Rich pork stock, marinated egg, sweetly soft slithers of chashu and of course those firm ramen noodles. You can get good tonkotsu in London now so I don’t have to go back to Kyushu for them. Though sadly Birmingham is still sorely lacking any, let alone good, ramen joints.
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