Chop and Wok Mini Review

After a longer than anticipated break we’re back with two halal food reviews for one. I’ve spent the last month reviewing arts assessments and its good to be back to reviewing food.

Chinese is the new Indian well at least thats the case when it comes to Halal food in Birmingham, we’ve already reviewed Oodles n Noodles and today we review Chop & Wok a fantastic new concept with two outlets in the city. Both Chop & Wok restaurants in Birmingham primarily service takeaway orders, the Suffolk Street branch has very limited seating with the Cannon Street branch having a more dedicated albeit tiny seating area upstairs. For the purpose of this review we’re looking at the Cannon Street branch.

Chop & Wok offers a simple menu concept offering diners a choice of either salads or wraps or a comprehensive range of stir fry options. The dining menu is perfect for lunch times and a post work pick me up!

In terms of decor the Cannon Street outlet is beautifully designed, the concept is fantastic with pod style seating upstairs giving you a bird’s eye view of your stir frys sizzle and cook. My only criticism is that Chop & Wok have picked such a small outlet for their central branch. From a design and aesthetic perspective the branding, colour schemes and urban feel are a super smash hit. The owners have paid real attention to detail and I’d love to see the template used on Cannon Street rolled out to a larger establishment.

Food I hear you cry!

Chop & Wok brings power to the diner and creates a uniquely individual dish to suit the taste of each customer. For the stir fry menu diners are offered a range of options including noodles, rice and vermicelli as bases for the stir fry. This is then complimented by a choice of meaty extras including chicken breast, beef strip steak, tuna, prawns, salmon and duck. Vegetarians are not forgotten with tofu and oriental vegetable options. Next is my favourite part which is adding a unique flavour to your dish drawing inspiration from food capitals of the world including Mumbai, Delhi, Singapore, Kuala Lumpar, Tokyo, Beijing and Hong Kong! The wrap and salad menu follows the same concept with even more varied and rich flavour combinations to choose from!

I chose medium egg noodles, chargrill strip steak cooked in Sweet and Sour Hong Kong sauce. There is a range of extras on the menu which allow you to vary your dish further or add a side accompaniment. It was great to watch the food being prepared in front of me as I sat in a slightly space aged pod seat upstairs. The food itself was amazing. The stir fry is served in a paper box which is great from a recycling perspective but can result in the problem of the rich sauces and flavours seeping through to the bottom creating a mini flood of flavour as you reach the end of your dish! My advice after having eaten at Chop & Wok three times is to constantly work your noodles and ingredients to ensure the flavour and sauce works its magic all the way through! The beauty of the concept is you can mix and match a range of ingredients and flavours making each trip to Chop & Wok a new experience for the tastebuds.

The stir fry is available for a competitive £5.80 and a special lunchtime offer is also available offering a stir fry, drink and prawn crackers for a competitive £6.00.

Service is professional but be warned if you do go in at a busy time be prepared for a wait due to all the dishes being freshly prepared. Chop & Wok also offer a free delivery service for orders over £10 within a two mile radius accessible through a well designed website that can take the stress out of waiting for your fusion of flavours.

I would heartily recommend Chop & Wok to anyone looking for an authentic and tasty stir fry experience!

For more information check out the website at http://www.chopandwok.co.uk/

Food 9/10
Service 7/10 (all good things come to those who wait but it can test the patience of any saint at peak times!)
Space 9/10 (love the concept but I want more table covers!)
Prices 8/10

Overall 8.5/10

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Oodles Noodles Mini Review – Birmingham

Salaams from the Halal Blogosphere.

After what feels like a lifetime I am back to provide a quick mini review of Oodles Noodles in Star City, Birmingham. I’ve been thinking about going to Oodles Noodles for a number of weeks now but have always found a reason or an alternative which has kept it on the radar but off the pages of the Halal Food Review.

This past weekend I finally managed to find the time to head to Oodles Noodles with the family in tow. We arrived mid afternoon after the quickest and most productive shopping trip ever. The restuarant is based in Star City which is great for free parking but there is something about Star City which simply doesn’t inspire me. Living in South Birmingham I can quite easily find any number of reasons not to travel to Star City and its not always the distance!!!!

We arrived to an almost empty restaurant which is always worrying especially during half term in Star City with a car park full of visitors. Its hard to be inspired when there is a lack of buzz or energy in the dining area. The décor is modern and classy, the lighting and colour scheme are well done and as a diner you have a good level of visibility of the kitchen area.

What did strike me was the number of staff who were just standing around in an empty restuarant it took a few moments for me to get the attention of a waiter to come and take our orders. We ordered two chicken dishes in the Desi Wok and Stir Fry variants, in hindsight it might have been good to experiment with a beef or vegetarian second option, both were accompanied by noodles.

The dishes arrived super fast which can only mean most of the food is pre prepared which I’m never sure is a good thing or a bad thing. The Desi Wok was a sweet and mild dish whilst the Stir Fry had enough chillies to make your heart race and set fire to your taste buds! I have to confess both dishes were absolutely first rate, the portion sizes were just right. If you’re used to Abu Zayd portions you will leave hungry but the menu definitely delivers on taste and flavours.

The Oodles Noodles concept is simple but brilliant, I can’t remember the last time I have really enjoyed a lunch meal with the family and what really stood out was the clear flavours in each dish which you can often lose out on in so many halal restaurants.

Whilst the food was great and the décor is of a high standard I thought the service was found a bit wanting. The restaurant also seemed to lack an ambiance due to so few diners in a large dining space. On a personal level I’d love to see something like Oodles Noodles in the city centre, the quality of the food would definitely draw in the punters and you just can’t help feel it would benefit from the energy and intimacy that you so often experience eating at a Wagamama.

Prices are competitive and portions are ample though some readers may disagree but its important to judge food on flavours rather than quantity.

If you are in Star City territory then Oodles Noodles is well worth a visit. Service standards could improve and it would be great to try it out again when there are more diners in the restaurant. Oodles Noodles scores a very positive 7 out of 10