Wednesday, 29 January 2014

New Sum Ye, Birmingham

Tempted by a review by Jay Rayner - who himself was inspired by Brum-based blog Smoke and Umami - I knew a visit New Sum Ye, with its 'bronze- lacquered duck with skin that should occupy a place between shattering glass and melting caramel', would be in order at some point during our trip to Birmingham. 

Fortuitously, we were staying right on the edge of Chinatown, meaning it made the perfect choice for a late night Sunday supper after day three of our tour of the 'best holsteries in the Second City'. (Not very) eagle-eyed viewers may have picked up a rather inebriated theme to these last posts....

Found on the corner of Hurst street - a narrow, pedestrianised alley of Chinese cafes, bakeries and restaurants that lead to the Arcacian centre. The first thing you notice, as soon as your eyes have adjusted to the garish lighting above each shop front, is the aforementioned piles of glistening poultry. Both crispy duck and burnished soya chicken nestle temptingly against the glass on our arrival.

I chose the triple meat with boiled rice. For an extra 50p you can upgrade to egg fried rice, but I think the oleaginous and salty protein benefits from the foil of plain starch.

The meat was pretty peerless; scarlet-edged char siu (my pick of the trio), imbued with the gentle liquorice note of five spice; wobbly roasted belly, topped with a crisp layer of crackling; and the sweet bronzed duck, cleaved straight through the bone and draped with a few obligatory leaves of garlicky pak choi , a concession to our prescribed 5-a-day.

The bowls of chilli sauce provided on on each table - sweet and thick with dried shrimp and preserved beans - were both addictive and held a fearsome chilli punch. A great compliment to the swathes of sticky and aromatic meat which, despite my best intentions to share, were quickly dispatched.

Not to feel too much sympathy for the Ewing missing out though; as well a a few snatched chunks of my char sui and pork belly, she had her own meal of roast duck with (for a extra 50p) noodles and soup to contend with.

The soup was imbued with a umami depth and was thick with with bouncy coils of egg noodle, spring onion chunks and, slightly bizarrely, leaves of what appeared to be iceberg lettuce.  The duck- this time a prized leg portion - again yielded without protest from its bones.

The price for this duo of delights? Just £6.50. Although, as you can see from this surreptitiously snapped photo, the joy it gave the Ewing was without monetary value. The slurping, and chomping bringing an unbridled reward after our long walk across town.

New Sum Ye on Urbanspoon

They do have pudding at New Sum Ye - a short list of gelatine-based things, both sweet and salty, which sounded eminently miss-able - but we chose to go next door to Caffe Chino, for a bubble tea to finish the evening.

The choice of 'boba'  flavours - a drink first originating in Taiwan, and being distinguished by the tapioca 'pearls' that bob around in it - at Chino is vast. Not only do they have fruit and tea based bubble teas, but also milkshakes, fruit slushes and drinks to which you can add a choice of seven different flavours of jelly pieces.

Being boring we stuck to the simple HK tea, a mix of black tea and condensed milk (fans of a sweeter drink can choose the Vietnamese tea, with a higher ratio of dairy to tea) mixed with ice and finished with a handful of the chewy black orbs.

Caffe Chino on Urbanspoon


A great dinner, followed by delicious drink next door, and change left from a twenty? The perfect double bubble.

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