With just 18 seats, WokChi is tiny.
Its menu, too, is commendably short – a welcome change from the lengthy tomes usually encountered at Chinese restaurants.
The decor is unfancy – lots of light wood, simple grey floor tiles, a few understated adornments in shelves fashioned out of bamboo steamers.
It’s not unlike the simple Oriental cafes in Chinatown – except that Wok Chi is far smatter because it’s in Harborne, a suburb whose stolidly middle class inhabitants find it inconceivable to shop anywhere other than Waitrose and M&S.
But WokChi, despite its simplicity, is far more to my liking than a lot of places with far grander interiors and much higher prices.
Its website boasts that it’s family-run and seeks out fresh, natural and if possible organic ingredients.
It might add that the open plan kitchen treats those ingredients with respect and skill.
Starters, in particular, were very good.
Steamed Vietnamese rolls emerged first from the kitchen – three parcels of chopped prawn, minced pork, vermicelli, the dried fungus muk yee, radish, carrot, spring onion, garlic and shallot delivering a tremendous umami hit inside translucent rice pastry.
Tofu cubes came crisp-coated and gently spicy with fresh chilli, garlic, onion and dried shallot that added a deeply savoury edge.
Delicate wontons came stuffed with pork, diced prawn, water chestnuts, muk yee, ginger and onion.
All three starters came with distinctive and well-balanced dipping sauces.
They were plated nicely, too, in a rustic sort of way.
My main course was good but didn’t quite hit the same heights.
Slivers of shredded beef were beautifully crisp and flavoursome and came in a yellow bean and hoi sin sauce that was a touch too sweet for my palate but nevertheless enjoyable.
Rice alongside was perfectly steamed and there was a good fresh garnish of salad.
But my companions’ dishes – a seafood udon bowl and a chicken dish – were both said to be a little bland.
A shame because this is a restaurant that cares and has embraced a welcome simplicity.
Service throughout reflected this approach and a steady stream of customers proves that it’s attracting a following.
Need to know
Expect to pay around £15 a head for starters and main courses with a drink.
There’s a small range of beers and plenty of soft drinks and teas.
WokChi serves takeaways.
There are vegetarian options.
Book a table – we almost didn’t get in.
135 High Street, Harborne, Birmingham B17 9NP. 0121 427 2820.