It’s taken time for me to warm to Topokki’s humble charms. The basic home-style Korean food was alright, it didn’t really hit the spots for me. But it sneaks onto the Brumfoodmap on the strength of one dish, the Dolsot Bibimbap. A red hot stone bowl filled with rice, finely sliced fresh vegetables and a choice of meat, beef all the way for me. Mix in the Korean magic ingredient gojujang (a smooth sweet, fermented, fiery chilli paste) and bingo! Instant satisfaction. Well not instant as it’s scorching hot but that’s the beauty of it, the heat cooks off the gojujang and aromatises the rice as you eat it. Better still there’a nice crust of browned rice at the end of the bowl. A truly delicious way to eat rice.
The fried chicken nuggets are tasty here if a little unsubstantial but the rest of the menu is a little boring. The kimchi is watery and bland. The room has been extended so it’s a lot more comfortable. Maybe a little too comfortable, everytime I’ve eaten there it’s been full of groups of Chinese yoofs passive aggressively treating the place like a lounge. Getting in the way of the patiently polite Korean staff after they’ve finished picking at their food ages ago. They’re obviously the restaurant’s main clientele and I’m not usually bothered by what other diners are up to, but there’s a line of rudeness that people skate very close to here. I just eat my bibimbap and go!
Unit 1C Hurst Street, Birmingham, West Midlands B5 4TD
Tel:0121 666 7200
Now I know we have steak restaurants in Brum; Andersons, MPW, the marvellous Fiesta Del Asado and the mediocre meatfest Rodizio Rico. But my favourite steak to eat in Brum is the onglet in Le Truc. This classic French bistro cut is the muscle that attaches the diaphragm and separates the lungs from the other organs. It’s got a deep beefy offally flavour and has to be cooked rare or it’s as tough as jerky. I always look forward to ordering it, fries and bernaise on the side, a simple thing done incredibly well.
Let’s not overlook Le Truc’s other charms. Open a couple of years now, it used to be the popular Chez Jules off New St. The spacious room is quintessially French bistro with quirky touches and a whole wall enshrined to Serge Gainsbourg. The menu is French bistro but done without any of the corporate Cafe Rouge cynicism. It’s not all French! They do a terrific Sunday roast beef too but really if you’re in the mood for no nonsense Frenchiness then Le Truc does the trick.
The name of the restaurant might lead you to think it’s not a Cantonese roast meat place at all. But with Chinese chefs this cafe has always served up some decent roasts alongside Malaysian classics like Assam laksa and nasi lemak. If further proof is required then the hanging roast meat display is the most prominent in the whole of Chinatown, facing the main road for all to see. Not usually as much meat on display as Peach Garden or New Sum Ye so you need to get there early for the best cuts. The plate I had was fine indeed. The roast duck is flavourful and juicy with the meat slipping off the bone easily. I’d have liked more as only a drumstick was presented. The roast belly pork was a little tough and the crackling although thin could have been crispier, good flavour meat and well seasoned. Char siu was a great cut of meat, a good ratio of collar collagen for a nice bouncy texture. The flavour was a little sweet for my liking but there was a good char flavour too. Rice was slightly too cold and firm served with a measly amount of pak choi. Typically for a Malaysian cafe the chilli oil had plenty of shrimp flavour and had good heat. Overall portion size was a little on the small side.
Duck 4.5 Pork 3.5 Char siu 4 Other 3 Total 15 £9 (£7.50, £1 dls, 50p tea)
Joint winners! Peach Garden and Ken Ho have the best roast meats in Chinatown. As a single plate of food Ken Ho probably edges it but pricewise Peach Garden is unbeatable. For £7.20 you have a triple roast and a cup of tea and know that you absolutely cannot eat a better meal for the money in Brum.