Chung Ying Garden,

17 Thorpe Street,

Birmingham, West Midlands

B5 4AT

Telephone: 0121 666 6622

Established for nearly a quarter of a century, the Chung Ying Gardens’ reputation precedes it - so much so, in fact, that its chairs have offered a soft resting place for many a celebrity bottom over the years.

Not so long before our visit, Aston Villa and England striker Darren Bent had popped in for a bite to eat, though whether he’d contemplated requesting a fortune cookie is anybody’s guess. A striker’s confidence is a fragile enough thing anyway, without taking the risk that it may be further compromised by the reading of a prophecy stating “you will blaze many great goalscoring opportunities over the crossbar”.

If the Chung Ying Gardens were a footballer, blazing goalscoring opportunities over the crossbar simply wouldn’t happen. The popular restaurant is extremely sure-footed in its delivery of ‘the goods’, scoring a hit with its customers in pretty much every way that matters to them, from friendliness and high standards of service to the imaginativeness of the menu and the quality of the cuisine itself.
The menu is extensive, to say the least, boasting a mouth-watering but brain-scrambling four hundred-plus dishes. Luckily, help is always on hand if you’re struggling to know whether it’s fish or fowl that floats your dragon boat. The waiters will happily point you in the direction of something a little different, if you’re looking for a ‘more authentic’ experience of Chinese cuisine. Our own little adventure on that score was a plate of chicken feet; not to my dining companion’s liking at all, but I was more than happy to wolf down not only my portion but his as well!
To be honest, to focus on the particular dishes that we chose seems almost irrelevant. As already mentioned, the choice is so extensive, the quality so impressive that you’re sure to follow your own path from dim sum to main dishes and find the culinary journey every bit as enjoyable as we did. The important point to make is that, as an experience, the Chung Ying Gardens is truly delightful. And the food is reasonably priced too, another of the many factors in favour of making it your Chinese restaurant of choice on a night out in Birmingham City Centre.

If you’re a Chung Ying regular, you’ll know all of this already, of course. If you’ve never been before, get along there as soon as you possibly can - it could well prove to be an experience that changes your understanding of Chinese cuisine forever. Alex Dyle

4 Stars on Tue, 01 Jan 2013