Saturday, 7 July 2007

Wagamama @ Birmingham

This is a bit old story.

Dim and I went to the Birmigham brunch of Wagamama restaurant. For those who are not British, Wagamama is a very popular restaurant franchise that offers pseudo Japanese style foreign food (bit complicated, I know, but I will explain later).

I knew that it was very popular, but I never brought myself to eat there, because 1) I don't know even 1 Japanese who like Wagamama, 2) it is not so cheap that I can forget about the bad food.

But one day a colleague of mine spoked about it enthusiastically and even gave me a 2 for 1 discount ticket, I decided to give it a go.

The Birmingham outlet is in Bullring with the entrance facing to St. Martin's. There almost always is a buzz, and also that night, it was near full.

This is what I ate: seafood ramen. "Ramen" is originally a Chinese style noodle dish, but it transformed into something different in Japan and you cannot find the same thing in China.

The soup did have something reminded me of Japanese food, but it was a sort of the thing I did not tasted in Japanese ramen. Above all, the noodles were real trush: there was nothing similar to Japanese noodles used for ramen. Absolutely disappointed. I would get 10 times better noodle dishes in nearby Chinese restaurants for less.

This is Dim's seafood rice. Stir-fried food in gooey sauce poured over rice is the kind of dish you can find in Chinese restaurant in Japan. Again, the soup had something wrong about it, and had an unpleasant burnt taste. Although the rice itself was ok, it was a bit mean and not satisfactly. Again, better at nearby Chinese restaurants.

We, or at least I, went out completely mystified. Why the British people like Wagamama so much remained a mystery to me. Paying a bit less than 10 pounds, I felt ripped off. I would rather go to any of the Chinese restaurants in the area, and pay 15 pounds.

Only thing that impressed me was the service. It was very quick and the waiting girls were all smily (smily waiters are rarity in Chinese restaurants).

We won't return.

Thursday, 5 July 2007

Khazana (Vegetarian Indian Buffet)

9 May 2007 Dim and I went to this Indian-Chinese Vegetarian Buffet restaurant in Handsworth area.

Interior (Khazana)

This is interior. It made us forget to be in Handsworth (for those who doesn't know Birmingham, Handsworth is not a particularly good area where gun crimes and even a riot happened recently).

We went for the weekend buffet for £9.99/head. For this price we could have about 30 kinds of starters, main courses, soups and sweets. There was a plenty to choose from.

There was also a la carte menu, but it seemed a bit over priced.

This is my starter.

My starter
There were good things and bad things. Chapatti and square gram flour cake were good, but the rest were so and so. The orange rice was rather insipid and cold. Dhosa was ok, but I think I don't like Dhosa from the start.

Below is Dim's dish. The noodles at the centre of dish were particularly disgusting: they tasted as if they were burnt even if they were not. Also the white stuff was very strang: something savoury with sweet yogurt with it.


This is my main dish. Different from the starters, there two curries were quite nice: one is muttar panir and the other was curry with sticky potato. Unfortunately rice was bit dry and devoid of fragrance. I would have faired better with chapatti.

Main Dish

But the best things I ate here were these soups: left is mixed beans soup and right is sambar. They both very spicy and flavoursome.

For desserts there were carrot halwa and this mango soup, which was soothing and enjoyable.

Mango Dessert

In total, it was interesting experience, but not entirely positive. There were very nice things, but also some less than average food. I might want to return, but I would choose more carefully what I will eat.

For those who interested, you can find all the necessary information on their website.

Wednesday, 4 July 2007

Mango Yogurt @ EAT.


This food franchise called "EAT." is making a fair success in Birmingham. In a short period of time, 3 outlets opened and all doing fairly well. In the photo above is an outlet in Bullring.

Their main menu is sandwich, soups and salads, just as in another big franchise Pret-a-manger.

I have been a bit curious but I am not that keen to pay £3 to £4 for a sandwich. For the same price, I would rather go to eat fish and chips or kebab on naan. These give me more satisfaction.

On the other day, however, we had a chance to try something from there. It was Yogurt with Mango puree.

Yogurt with Mango puree

It cost £1.10. If we had eaten in, it would have costed £1.25 or so. It was Greek style thick yogort with pureed mango with little sugar. It was ok, but cost less if I just buy a yogurt from Tesco.

Monday, 2 July 2007

Moroccan Cafe "Atlas"

After a delicious dim sum lunch, we looked for a place to get some coffee. Avoiding our usual haunts, we decided to go to a recently discovered Moroccan cafe.

We have seen it for long time through the bus window, but we guessed it was Greek, because of its name "Atlas", and of the use of colours (blue and white being two colours used on Greek national flag).

We only recently discovered it is in reality a Moroccan, so we went there to investigate.

Moroccan tea
We had one coffee (£1), one Moroccan tea (£2) and one baklava (£1). The coffee was freshly made with an Italian style coffee maschine, and it was quite nice. Tea was served in a traditional small tea pot, on a metal tray, which make it appear very attractive. Baklava tasted different from the Greek one being drier and having different flavour. I sensed a yeast-ish smell, although yeast should not be used to make phylo pastry. Strange.

Moroccan Min Tea

In the tea pot, there were some mint sprigs as well as dried mint leaves. It contained sugar from the start, and quite sweet.

As food, we saw hummous and other paste and meat on skewers. On the black board, it was written "ask for today's special", so there might have been other stuff, too. Next time we will try the food.

Sunday, 1 July 2007

Kashmir Cottage, Bearwood, Birmingham

30/06/2007 (Sat.) We went to Kashmir Cottage on Bearwood Rd. This is one of the closest restaurants from our house, and for me this was the third visit. Three times are not numerous for average people, but for me who often want to visit new to me restaurants, 3 times are many.

This is how it looks from out side. There used to be a big banner saying "Monday Tuesday Buffet £7.95". Fortunately it is now gone, although the same buffet still is still on offer.

The place is very small. There are about 40 covers. It you want to make sure to be able to get in, reservation is recommended, especially for Fridays and Saturdays. At all three occasions, I saw it quite populated or many table already reserved.

First, Popadoms. They charge for these. I think I payed about £1.5 for 2 popadoms and dips. But, as you see at the end, as the other dishes are so well priced, we end up paying less than at other places. Anyway, you have choice not to order them. I think it is always good to have choices.

Kashmir Cottage, Bearwood, Birmingham

For starter, we shared stuffed chili from their special menu. The green peppers were filled with yellow mashed-potato like, spicy stuffing and deep-fried in chick pea flour batter. Very nice, with fresh heat. Look also this large salad. They cost only £2.50!


Following are the main dishes. First, Chicken shashilik. Big, succulent pieces of chicken and vegetable cooked in tandoori oven. You think some of the vegetable are burnt; they are bit burnt, but give pleasant bitterness. This is my favourite dish, and I ordered it at all the 3 occasions.

Shashilik comes with this salad. Often the tandoori main dishes are accompanied by token salad, but at Kashimir Cottage, it comes in a separate dish in a big heap! All these for £4.95.

Side salad
This is aubergine curry, Baingan Bhartha. Baked aubergine mashed and mixed with onions and spices. This again nice, but it is slightly too salty to my taste. I ordered stuffed paratha to go with, but this dish should have gone better with boiled rice.

Aubergine curry
My stuffed paratha, or, rather, a half of my paratha. I am not sure what was the stuffing. It was a yellow paste. It might be the same as the thing staffed in the peppers. This is the second time that I ate paratha in my life, and I just wanted to try again. I thought it was bit dry, but I don't have clear idea how paratha should be. On the other hand, Dim had cheese naan, his favourite.

Staffed Paratha
The final bill came to £17.65, including Dim's coke. The place is licensed, but we did not have any alcahole. The price we thought was very good and I left £20, to express my satisfaction. Service was very good as it was at the other occasions.

If you live in the area, and you have never tried, I would recommend heartily to do so.

This is their website, with map and menu.


If you are interested in this, you may want to read also about Teknaf Cuisine.