The world outside may have been tucking into brätwurst, schnitzel and stollen at Birmingham’s dreadful German market, but I refuse to believe that any were as flavoursome or as good value as the noodle soup that I ate.
The bowl of Sichuan ‘dan dan’ noodles had real depth of flavour, with lots of different notes – salty, sweet, sour, savoury and, of course, fiery.
A rich stock was spiked with an audacious amount of chilli oil and Sichuan pepper, but not enough to mask the minced pork, prawns, preserved vegetables, spring onions and thin noodles that lay in the liquid.
This was a hearty and satisfying lunch – and a bargain, I think.
I visited Chung Ying Central this week to try out recently-launched new lunchtime menu.
The deal is simple: £7.95 buys you a main course, £9.95 a main course plus a side dish and £10.95 a main course, side dish and drink.
Main courses include noodle soups or a mix-and-match dish, with customers deciding on the type of rice or noodles they want, the meat or vegetables to accompany it and the sauce they’d like.
I sampled four different noodle soups and though the Sichuan dish was, for me, the star, I also thoroughly relished the others.
Vietnamese beef brisket pho was massively enlivened by a squeeze of lime and fresh chopped red chilli, Singapore laksa was comforting through the addition of coconut milk and the plump soft udon noodles in a Japanese katsu soup were a delight.
This being the festive season, I also sipped a £5 Cinnamon Crunch cocktail from the winter specials list – an indulgent combo of Jack Daniels Tennessee Fire, Malibu, chocolate and cream.
Then, when I left, took a sharp right to avoid the misguided crowds at the festive market.
Chung Ying Central
126 Colmore Row, Birmingham B3 3AP. 0121 400 0888.
I’m working with the Chung Ying group as a freelance consultant.