Chi Kitchen Birmingham, Review | FOOD

4 Sep 2016

A couple of weeks ago I was invited to pop along to Chi Kitchen to sample their new Summer menu, being a lover of all things oriental and an avid foodie I accepted their invitation and jumped in the car to the city centre with a hungry belly....
Chi Kitchen is a contemporary pan asian restaurant in Birmingham, it's nestled in the corner of the handbag section on the third floor inside Debenhams in the Bull Ring and is a little bit of a hidden gem.  The eatery can accommodate up to 108 people and has a champagne bar upon entrance (if you just wanted a little tipple!).  
As soon as you head up the escalators from the second floor you can detect chinese spices wafting down the staircase inviting you to come dine with them, I'm a massive lover of all things chinese and pan asian so this was probably one of the most delicious smells you could have put my way.  Upon entry you leave the bright halogen lights of the department store and enter a welcoming and calm space, we were seated at the floor to ceiling window overlooking Birmingham markets and handed a glass of Chi Kitchen fizz.  The speciality cocktail was champagne, mango and amaretto mixed and was incredibly delicious! 

The hostess handed us a menu with a smile and left us to ponder our starters, we decided to try out their sharers, both raw and cooked, and chose the mixed nigiri platter (£9.95) and the fried platter (£19.95).  Both arrived promptly and served on a large slate, presented beautifully and looking tasty.
Starting with the sushi, it was super fresh and delicate - I'd never had caviar on top of my nigiri before and was concerned it may have an overpowering fish taste but it was a perfect addition. The sweet tarte sauce and truffle oil mix bought out the deep flavours on the tuna and salmon.  
Moving onto the fried platter, again served on a slate, which consisted of popcorn prawn pieces, home made duck spring rolls and tempura with a truffle sauce.  Fried starters are my guilty pleasure with this cuisine so this was always going to be a winner for me, but the taste sensations of the duck spring rolls made from scratch were incredible - especially when dipped in the trundle oil sauce.  

Once we'd devoured the starters in their entirety, we struggled to choose from the mains on the menu - the Summer menu had far too many options that looked too good to select just one!  In fear of getting serious food FOMO if we ordered incorrectly, when the waitress offered to bring us a selection of her choice we jumped at the proposal.  I've done this twice before in restaurants and trusted the waitress to a: not rip you off with the most expensive item on the menu and b: bring you items they know sell well and are enjoyed by their customer, it's always worked out really well.  
So, when she came back with a sea bass in lime sauce, sweet and sour chicken, tuna steak in ouzo sauce and a side of egg fried rice we knew we were in for a feast.  
Yet again, the food was beautifully presented and tickled our nostrils with the most delightful smell.  We tucked into our dishes and make occasional 'mmmm' noises as we ate.  The lime sea bass was something I never would have chosen for myself but was a delight, the fish was cooked to fall away at the bone and had a subtle citrus taste to it.  The sweet and sour had enough tang in it to satisfy me and the egg fried rice was smoky and sticky enough with large chunks of egg.  
The only disappointing dish was the tuna, it was cooked medium rare and not to my taste, I found the sauce somewhat bland and was not my favourite on the table.  My companion on the other hand enjoyed it immensely.

Almost full the the brim, our waitress came to clear our plates and advised she had ordered two of her favourite desserts for us to enjoy.  Not being one to turn down a cake, I made room in my 'pudding pocket' for some sweet treats.
We shared a fresh mango cheesecake which was light, creamy and had a great tang of tart mango to accompany the sweet taste of the crumbly biscuit base.  Moving onto a chocolate fondant which was rich and dark, accompanied by a homemade salted caramel ice cream (which was the perfect side).  

We thoroughly enjoyed our meal, though we do feel that you probably don't need three courses to enjoy this restaurant.  My personal favourites were the sushi starter and the mango cheesecake dessert, not to mention the fantastic champagne cocktail when we were selecting our dishes.  
The decor of the restaurant was contemporary and was an incredibly welcoming space, however I do think the location is not ideal.  Had this have been nestled in the city centre or on a high street where the site is accessible after mall opening hours then the restaurant would benefit from a larger customer base, it has the potential of rivalling a lot of chinese and pan Asian restaurants in the area by it's food quality alone, but the area makes it incredibly restricted.  The good news is, the restaurant does open in line with later hours of the shopping centre during Christmas so do pop by here after you pick up your mom's stocking fillers!
In all, do make the effort to come to Chi Kitchen - it's a bit of a hidden gem and totally worth the small walk through the store.  I would thorough recommend coming here, having a sushi starter with caviar and a champagne cocktail like a luxury lady.  

*Thank you to Chi Kitchen for the invite, my meal was provided for review purposes but all opinions are my own.

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