Chi Kitchen is the recently opened restaurant on the 3rd Floor of Debenhams in the Bullring, Birmingham. It serves a diverse all-day dining menu influenced by Thai, Chinese, Malaysian, Japanese, Vietnamese and Korean cuisine. They have enlistedrestaurateur Eddie Lim, owner of Thai institution the Mango Tree in Belgravia to help with the concept too. I’m not always so convinced by places that try to serve so many cuisines but a department store is probably as good a place as any to have something like that due to the mixed tastes of the passing trade.
Laura from Full to the Brum and I were invited along a few days after they opened to sample some of the food and give some feedback on what we thought. With this in mind, we know after speaking to some of the chefs on the night that they are very much still developing and tweaking the menu and are keen to get peoples opinion and feedback on what they enjoyed.
I was quite taken by the decor of the space – light woods mixed with a bright teal colour was right up my street. Teal is the colour that we had as our ‘wedding colours’ so I was smitten! There’s a long bar with an open kitchen at one end and part of the restaurant has a panoramic view out towards Chinatown.
Drinks wise there’s a small list of classic cocktails and a couple of more unusual ones , as well as the usual beer and wine choices. I tried a Hibiscus Fizz whilst Laura had the Bangkok Fizz. I enjoyed mine very much – the sweet hibiscus flower with the dry champagne is a winner for me.
Food wise, as we were there to try out the food we opted to let the chef cook us portions of whatever he felt like from the menu.
From the light bites/starters section:
- Popcorn shrimp – Deep fried tempura shrimp served with wasabi mayonnaise
- Prawn and chive dumplings
- Chicken and prawn siu mai
- California crab roll
- Salmon maki
- Spicy tuna Maki
- Chicken satay – Succulent pieces of chicken skewered and marinated in lemongrass and coriander served with peanut sauce
Out of these the sushi was the standout for me – all very well made and flavoursome and the fish very high quality. The addition of the various little toppings on the sushi and the drizzles took them to a high level. Not quite as good as Sushi Passion for me, but a good deal cheaper! The satay was succulent and nicely spiced with a strong hint of lemongrass. The 2 dim sum were decent but I thought the fillings could have been seasoned more. The popcorn shrimp was a good idea and the prawns well cooked but less of the dressing would have been better for me as it made the whole thing a little soggy.
From the Mains
- Thai green chicken curry – with Thai aubergine, sweet basil leaves and chicken
- King Prawn Pad Thai
- Korean steak – Sirloin steak with Korean Bulgogi sauce served with wasabi mash
Of the few mains we tried I thought the Green Curry was delicious. It was very spicy and I loved the addition the the thai aubergines and thai basil – ingredients that you don’t see enough. The Korean Beef was really well cooked and the sticky sweet sauce lovely, although I could take or leave the wasabi mash. Less successful was the Pad Thai, we both found it overly sweet and didn’t have that salty and sour balance that Thai food should have. The chef totally took this on board and agreed it needed tweaking.
With so much food there was no way we could contemplate dessert, probably as a good job as unbeknownst to us, we were the last in the restaurant, and the store, as on walking out we realised that all the shutters were down and locked!! Feeling slightly like criminals we found a security guard to lead us out down the back stairs and onto the street. So, a note to shoppers – if you’re dining there in the evening – beware of the closing time!
Overall it’s promising place that would be great for a break from a day of retail therapy with a wide range of options to suit all the family.
Disclosure: Our food at Chi was free of charge. Opinions as always are honest and defiantly not influenced by almost having to spend the night in the Debenhams home department!