Chung Ying Garden | Cantonese | Southside
(Chung Ying Garden owner James Wong indulges his musical side)
Happy Chinese New Year! As the Year of the Snake came onto the horizon, we visited one of Birmingham’s oldest Chinese restaurants to tuck into some traditional food from the modern superpower.
[by Ahmed Ahmed]
Don’t expect anything fancy. Chung Ying Garden’s regulars presumably head there because of the menu, rather than the decor, which is a bit plain and harsh. The music is more interesting – Chinese pop songs play in the background, while on our visit the restaurant was full of Chinese people as well, always a good sign pointing to authenticity.
Claiming to serve ‘the largest selection of dim sum in the country’, Chung Ying Garden certainly has a generous menu, with a dizzyingly long list of a la carte options. The dim sum (small starters intended for sampling and sharing) are even the topic of manager James Wong’s hilarious Psy-inspired viral music video, Oppan Dim Sum Style (watch above).
We ended up having deep-fried prawn balls thai style which went brilliantly with sweet and sour sauce, crispy and satisfying Vietnamese spring rolls and steamed king prawn and chive dumplings. The dumplings I have to admit were a strange experience – the gooey white packages made from rice flour weren’t my thing at all, but you may disagree.
The set menus will save you from spending half the night trying to choose. Our Deluxe A choice included sizzling fillet of beef in black pepper sauce, which I found somewhat lacking in flavour while my guest loved it, and fried sliced chicken in bird’s nest, which both of us agreed was disappointing although the steamed green beans were a great touch. The fried sea bass steak thai style added some much needed zing and interesting flavours, while the yeung chow fried rice was a lovely and satisfying accompaniment.
Chinese food can make you quite thirsty, so we were advised to wash it all down with bottles of Tsing Tao, a Chinese beer that appears on the drinks list along with Tiger. Wines, spirits and soft drinks are of course also served.
Cost of individual dishes varies, but set menus include:
Deluxe A menu for 2 (two dim sum starters, four mains) = £36 in total, or £18 per head.
Deluxe B menu for 3 (three assorted starters, five mains) = £60, or £20 per head.
A pleasant experience and definitely a satisfying one – both the list of options and the portions are generous. As someone who doesn’t eat Oriental food very often, the sweet flavours and unusual textures always make an interesting change from European cuisine. The service is far from polished, but the waiters are friendly and prompt, which makes all the difference.
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