Saturday, 24 January 2009

Oh Wok a Night!

IT'S always a delight to see a new business appearing to flourish. And never more so than in these challenging economic times.
So last night when we ate out at Woktastic in Paradise Forum, it was fantastic not to be the only ones. Far from it in fact - the new sushi and noodle bar was bustling with diners, many of them taking advantage of the all-you-can-eat sushi for £10.
And if that offer doesn't fend off the winter blues then the restaurant's psychedelic interior and Manga-style artwork will.
My other half and I started with a plate of mixed sushi. I'm the first to admit I'm something of a novice when it comes to eating sushi and still find it an acquired taste and texture, but this was exemplary.
I particularly liked the tuna sashimi and the maki rolls filled with tempura prawns and was pleasantly suprised by the octopus nigiri.
It was all washed down with mango and apple juice, which was freshly squeezed, foamy, and a far cry from the processed, syrupy J2O-type drink I'd been expecting. We both agreed it felt like it was doing us some good.
Prawn crackers sprinkled liberally with togarashi followed. They were light and flavorsome and filled the gap between the arrival of our main courses.
I chose the TeppanYaki Soba, a delicious noodle dish with marinated chicken, jumbo prawns, red onion, beansprouts, egg and peppers.
Satisfying and well-balanced I could not have asked for more. I was especially impressed by the texture of the prawns, which were tender, juicy and not at all chewy.
The other side of the table was very quiet as he munched through his Beef chilli soba. He later admitted that the chilli heat was little uncompromising.
"The clue is in the name," I quipped.
I think it was just an excuse to order ice-cream for pudding.
But this was no ordinary ice-cream. Grey in colour, it looked a bit unappealing, but this belied a taste revelation.
Flavored with Japanese black sesame seeds it was creamy, rich and moreish, similar in texture to tahini in Middle Eastern cooking.
By the time we scooted out of the restaurant the place was almost full and the atmosphere lively. I hope this run of good fortune continues for Ali and his team, because they really deserve it.
More details at
Woktastic Noodle and Sushi Bar on Urbanspoon


Mrs Woffington said...

I'm a big fan of this place - the food seems relatively healthy, so if I'm starving on the way back from the gym, I cn eat there with a clear conscience. The Thai-fusion dishes are my favourite, but then I do have quite a high tolerance for chilli. We thought a lot of it was miles better than Wagamama.

Jim said...

That sounds really good Emily, I will make a point of going and eating there. I like the sound of all you can eat for a tenner as well :)

Emily said...

I agree Mrs W. As I tucked into my soba noodles, I said that I thought it was miles better than Wagamamas, seemed much fresher somehow and the quality of ingredients better!

The all-you-can-eat offer is superb. People were literally piling up their empty bowls quicker than staff could collect them. Definitely worth the trip. Think the offer is on until Saturday!

Mrs Woffington said...

We pitched up pretty late one night last year and the owner recognised us and gave us a two-for-one offer on sushi. I'm glad he's succeeding with the business because Birmingham desperately needs more middle-range places that understand the concept of fresh, quality food.

Emily said...

Too true Mrs W. We have far too many chain restaurants in our city centre, which are fine, but only when they are alongside plenty of restaurants unique to Birmingham. It seems especially difficult for infant businesses to get a foot on the ladder. I remember reading a story in the Birmingham Mail about a man trying to set up a restaurant on Broad Street but the rates were astronomical - making it impossible for anyone but a national chain to set up there.

Mrs Woffington said...

Pretty much ditto with the Mailbox. It started out aiming for the high end and now it has Nando's, Zizzi, Ha Ha Bar & Grill, Pizza Express etc. The Council keeps talking about its Big City Plan, but they just don't get the fact that a proper food culture isn't generated by committee - it happens spontaneously.

Emily said...

You're right Mrs W. The Mailbox used to be home to Paris, Fino, Santa Fe and Don Salvo. Now it's just like anywhere else, in any other city, with its Pizza Express and Cafe Rouge and Nandos.
Birmingham has such diverse cultures but I feel not enough is done to celebrate this. Chinatown, for example, looks faded, and more could be made of our Balti Triangle in making it a real food destination.

Neil said...

First, lovely review, found it by way of urban spoon. Must try out the place, as I walk past it twice a day!

Secondly. Birmingham food blogger...wohooo, been hunting for some! Link should be on the name.

Emily said...

Thanks Neil. Glad you found my blog and hope you will continue to do so!

You should definitely give Woktastic a try and if you like what you eat, why not try the fantastic sushi school. It's so good I'm thinking of returning for an advanced class!