I have a confession: before the Blogger Banquet event recently I hadn’t actually eaten at Chung Ying Garden. I’ve walked past it a million times over the years as I’ve trundled through China Town, (usually on my way to Nightingales after too many adult lemonades) but had never made it through the bright red doors. That all changed at the end of July when I was invited, along with a handful of other bloggers, to try 100 of Chung Ying’s famous Dim Sum dishes.
Opened in 1987 (and just a stone’s throw from The Hippodrome) Chung’s is an enormous restaurant boasting 420 covers with various spaces for dining, including private banquet rooms. Priding itself on offering authentic Cantonese recipes, not to mention the ‘largest dim sum selection in the UK,’ Chung Ying Garden offers both savoury and sweet bites. All Dim Sum come under one of three prices (£3.50, £4.00, £5.00) found on a colour coded menu, and the choices include favourites such as Steamed King Prawn Dumplings, Vegtable Spring Rolls, and Chilli Squid. There’s also some more unusual options for those that like to delve into the lesser known, including Black Bean Chicken Feet, Satay Ox Tripe and, wait for it, Pan Fried Turnip Paste. Yup… that old chestnut.
Having had a fairly stressful day, I arrived at 6pm quite desperate for a glass of something strong and thankfully was immediate presented with a gin and tonic before taking a seat at the round table. Upstairs in the banqueting suite, rather than in the restaurant itself, two long tables were gradually lined with Dim Sum for us to try. Labelled for ease and with the Chung team on hand to talk is through the dishes available, a real feast was laid on for us to dig into, including a seriously impressive array of steamed and fried dumplings.
James Wong, the managing director of the Chung Ying Restaurant Group, welcomed guests and encouraged us to try new flavours and ingredients. From popular noodle dishes – using every single variety of noodle you can imagine – to steamed Lotus buns (my new favourite thing on earth), there were plates and bowls as far as the eye could see.
I decided to step out of my comfort zone (in between plates of noodles, obviously) and try the steamed tripe with ginger and spring onion; whilst I liked the fresh flavours I couldn’t quite get on board with the texture, but it was interesting to have a new experience. I wasn’t a big fan of the chicken feet either – too much faff for little reward – but the black bean sauce covering them was rich and flavourful.
My surprise highlight of the banquet was the fried turnip paste which tasted both earthy and sweet; I’ve never had anything like that before and would definitely order it next time I visit. The Lotus buns – part of the smaller sweet section also on offer – were also just gorgeous. I’ve no idea how or why they tasted so much like peanut butter but I’m sold.. so much so that I double high fived the man who encouraged me to try them. Speaking of which the team at CYG are lovely; truly nice, knowledgeable and enthusiastic about the food they offer. James took the time to speak to all of us around the table and it was great to hear about his background and how much he loves food – and Birmingham! You can see a few photos from the event below.
I enjoyed meeting the team and trying the taster bites provided, and will be back for more. I think next time I’ll check out the sister venue, Chung Ying Central, on Colmore Row; I’m told the same good food and service awaits me there too. There’s also a main menu and soups available at all CY venues (if Dim Sum isn’t your bag) and there’s various food and drink offers on during the week.
Chung Ying Garden, 17 Thorp Street, Birmingham, B5 4AT
*Disclosure: I was kindly invited to the Bloggers Banquet by East Village PR and the food/drink was complimentary. Opinions, photos and inability to stop eating steamed buns remain my own*