Chung Ying: don’t be dim, go for sum

Dim sum remains a bit of a forgotten pleasure in Birmingham, which seems to me strange when tapas and smaller plates are so fashionable.

A great pity, too, because, well done, these flavoursome and varied mouthfuls are an absolute delight and perfect for lunchtime or a straight-after-work dinner.
An impromptu early evening visit to Chung Ying, that veteran of Chinatown, was a reminder both of the allure of dim sum and the general quality of the restaurant.

The decor

This large imposing place is one of the landmarks of Chinatown. It’s been around for more than 30 years.
And, in all honesty, that’s starting to show in the scruffy red, beige and wood-panelled decor, which is in need of a bit of an update.
But it’s cosy – surprising in such a big space – and comfortable and, at busy times, has a fantastic buzz.

The service

Remember that cliche about Chinese waiters being aloof? Visit Chung Ying to have that myth well and truly dispelled.
Here the staff are friendly, charming, courteous and efficient.
Dishes came out promptly and empties were swiftly cleared away.

The food

Chung Ying claims to have the largest dim sum menu in the country and, looking at the huge list of steamed and fried delights, I wouldn’t argue.
We sampled six and paid just under £32, including a glass of wine and pint of Tiger lager, a fairly ghastly drink, the popularity of which baffles me.
But beery regrets were forgotten after the first bite of the evening’s star – a pan-fried slab of roughly mashed turnip studded with small dice of meaty Chinese sausage.
This dish – a sort of Oriental bubble and squeak – is the apotheosis of the turnip: moist, deeply savoury, packed with earthy flavour.
Cha siu bao – those filled steamed dumplings – also hit the target, the sweet snowy white dough contrasting gorgeously with the rich, dark pork in sauce.
Deep-fried won ton with a smear of sweet sauce added crunchy contrast to these two dishes.
A serving of shredded duck in a sort of soft pastry was packed with umami power.
Delicate prawn and crab dumplings were, like me, refined little things, with a generous amount of precisely-cooked zingy seafood
The bruiser of the ensemble were the preserved Chinese sausages in dough similar to that used for the cha is bao.
The bangers themselves were dense and meaty with an almost funky flavour reined in by the sweetness of the dough.
That nothing of anything remained uneaten – despite the filling nature of the food and my dainty figure – speaks volumes.

Need to know

Expect to pay around £15 a head for a generous number of dim sum with a drink.
Chung Ying offers 20% off dim sum between 12pm and 5pm.
The place is child friendly.
There are vegetarian options and plenty of seafood.
Car parks nearby.

Chung Ying
16 – 18 Wrottesley Street, Birmingham B5 4RT. 0121 622 5669.