Luckily for the residents of Harborne, and those willing to hop on a number 22, 23, 24, 29 etc. or take a short Uber from the city to Harbs (yes, that’s right, Harbs, it’s a thing, deal with it), a new eatery has taken its place. Alfie and Linda Choi with the support of their two young sons, Ollie and Joshie, have opened Wok Chi Oriental Kitchen and takeaway in the middle of the bustling High Street. They’ve completely gutted the old premises and the very thorough refit has resulted in a comfortable modern restaurant with fresh funky lighting.
We had heard great things about Wok Chi so on a random Tuesday night we decided to pop along with two friends and see what the fuss was all about. We had tried before but had not managed to get a table as whenever we passed the venue it seemed to be packed. We got lucky on that Tuesday and with no more than a two minute wait we quickly bagged a seat.
Alfie & Linda stress how passionate and conscientious they are about their food and take a great deal of care and pride in how they source, prepare and present it. The couple strive to use fresh, natural, and wherever possible organic ingredients, to produce delicious, authentic and modern adaptations of all your favourite Chinese and South East Asian dishes. This confidence in their cooking is born out by the presence of an open kitchen so you can watch your chosen dishes being prepared and cooked behind the counter.
Alfie appeared with a bowl of crunchy Thai prawn crackers with sweet chilli dip as we browsed the menu over some chilled Sapporo lagers. We devoured the lot whilst chatting about the day’s ridiculous charity shop finds (you’re following @CharityShopWTF on Twitter, right?) and the cake we’d scoffed at Forty-One earlier in the day.
For starters we decided to share a few plates and opted first up for the vegetarian spring rolls which were hot and crisp, accompanied with a sweet salty soy dip. We also chose the salt & chilli squid which arrived with a light and crisp batter surrounding perfectly tender rings of squid on a bed of wok fried veg with Asian spices and fresh chilli, garlic, and dried shallots. One of our diners had gone veggie for lent, so we also added a portion of the crispy salt & chilli tofu which came in the same light and crisp batter as the squid. We’d not had tofu served this way before and we were impressed with the zingy flavour the crisp cubes offered.
Onto the main event and a big test for any venue as one of us ordered a firm favourite of crispy shredded beef . We had this with a crushed yellow bean and hoi sin sauce with fresh chillies. This was my personal stand out dish of the visit with the beef having a perfect crunch, which seems impossible to get from a takeaway (I suspect due to time the dish sits in a container). Next up came a classic traditional Chinese chicken curry, cooked with garlic, ginger, onions, mushrooms, mixed pepper, carrot and garden peas which hit the spot for me. The curry was tongue tingling and the sauce thick, clinging to the tender chicken and egg fried rice.
We also tried the Wok Chi special which comprised stir fried chicken, beef, char sui pork, king prawns and seasonal vegetables in an oyster soy sauce. Also, we took the vegetarian satay stir fry. Both of these dishes went down well with our fellow diners, although possibly the satay could of done with a few more peanuts (which I am sure would’ve been supplied had we have requested).
With starters ranging from £2.25 to £6.95 and mains from £8.45 to £9.45 which includes your choice of rice or chow mein, this is not an expensive meal out. Go here expecting fresh food with a friendly neighbourhood vibe, and the hubbub of chatting and noises from the kitchen, and you’ll leave impressed.
Tel: 0121 427 2820