Here’s another hidden gem…


Lack of knowledge? Laziness? Gross stupidity?

Something must explain why the city centre’s chain eateries are packed with people gorging on desperately awful mass-produced fodder when far better food is available just a few minutes’ walk away in Chinatown.
Such as at Home Town China, situated opposite the entrance to the Arcadian car park.
It can’t be price.
I paid a tenner for an incredibly hearty and flavoursome bowl of food and a Tsingtao beer during a lunchtime visit when I had time to kill before a business meeting with a bookie.
Thrift before any sort of encounter with a bookie is a good thing, in my experience.

The place

It’s a cafe rather than a fancy restaurant.
The interior is pretty bare, but light and airy with one or two splashes of colour.
The functionality of the furniture doesn’t make it feel cold or unwelcoming.

Still less because the waitress who served me was charm personified.
A few Chinese students sat at other tables scoffing slowly and a couple of Chinese guys popped in, ate their meals and disappeared swiftly, presumably back to work.
I suspect this is a place primarily aimed at the Chinese community, especially since the sign outside is dominated by what I imagine if the Chinese version of its name – 家香味.

The food

The thrust of the menu is Mandarin, I believe.
It boasts that the food is authentic… whatever that means.
It’s a long list with a street food section, starters, noodles both in soups and in drier dishes, plus stir-fries and other things.
There are the usual Chinese (to us) oddities such as pork ear, tripe, pork bones and duck tongue.
But there are also enough mainstream ingredients that even cautious diners would be spoiled for choice.

The large bowl of minced pork, cubes of aubergine and noodles was was lovely thing.
The home-made noodles rather resembled tagliatelle plumped up with a bit of botox and was the star of the dish.
The pork and aubergine added plenty of savoury depth, as did a dark sauce given umami oomph by soy and a bit of fire by lots of black pepper.
The combo was perked up by lots of chopped fresh coriander and a sprinkling of sliced spring onions.

The bowl was empty by the time I left, regretful that I hadn’t the time to try more of the dishes.

A plea

These are the sorts of independent restaurants that Birmingham needs to support if it’s to have a truly vibrant and varied food scene.
One of the joys of having this website is finding gems such as Home Town’s neighbour Min Min Noodle Bar, the Korean restaurant Modu and the Italian cafe Gustami and helping to highlight them.
Home Town China has joined my list of hidden gems that we should support and frequent.

Need to know

The place is cheap.
It’s open Monday-Saturday from 12 noon to 10.30pm.
It’s child friendly.
There’s a huge car park opposite.
It’s licensed.

Home Town China
Unit 3, The Latitude, Bromsgrove St, Birmingham B5 6AB. 0121 692 1999.