Issue 272
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Crowded round a mobile phone, Chef Hui Liu's drawing Chinese symbols on his screen which Google is translating. Ingredient by ingredient, we're learning what goes into his centuries old recipe for Dezhou braised chicken. There are more than 20 ingredients and smart as it may be, Google can't keep up. This isn't a recipe that you'll find online — the precise proportions are dictated by look, smell, taste and consistency. Hui — who primarily speaks Cantonese — learnt it from his mother, who learnt it from her mother, who learnt it from her mother's moth... you get the idea. And ever so luckily for you, Hui has brought his family's recipe to Chinatown.
The catchily named Dezhou Style Braised Chicken restaurant has a Facebook page but its utterly lovely husband-wife owners have no idea how to use it. Constantly smiling, Dongmei tells us "A customer set it up and did some posts when we opened two years ago but we don't know about things like that — just come here and we will feed you proper, authentic homemade food!" Dongmei and Hui met in Stratford-upon-Avon, where they were both working in different Chinese restaurants. After Hui's five-year work permit was upgraded to permanent residency in the UK, the couple decided to open their own place.
"We didn't really know England" says Dongmei "but we'd been to Birmingham more than anywhere else and thought a big city would be best for our regional style of cooking". Though the pair started off with distinct Chinese and Western menus, they now have one for all their customers, and it doesn't include sweet and sour anything. "To start with we were trying to please everyone but once people try our authentic dishes, they love them, so now we're focussing totally on those". From the number of people attempting to get into the restaurant in the brief time we're there, they really do. One young lad looks like he's going to cry when Dongmei asks him to come back when they're open tomorrow.
Making dish after dish for what we're really hoping is going to be our lunch, Chef Hui's in what Dongmei tells us is his favourite place, the kitchen. It takes less than a minute for Hui to turn a piece of dough into noodles — thins ones, thick ones, flat ones, those inbetweeny round ones, and Dongmei's favourite huge, wide "belt" ones. He rhythmically stretches, twists, folds and eventually pulls out the noodles into the required shape. You can even watch his art here. Hui's been making the joy giving little things for more than 25 years, and let's just say it really shows when we have a go and basically end up with our hands stuck together, and a noodle count of nil. 
After the one minute make, it's just sixty seconds of cooking before the noodles are ready to serve. You'll never find them pre-made in the restaurant. "Why would you do that?" asks Dongmei "they just don't have the right texture". And she's right.

Hui grew up in Dezhou in the Shandong Province of China, which is what qualifies him to open a restaurant named after the region's most auspicious export — production of Dezhou braised chicken even gained cultural heritage status in China in 2006. And though you'll find utterly moreish soup noodles, salads, stir-fries and rice dishes, the real commitment is to the noodles and to that chicken.
Each night, after clearing up the restaurant, Hui begins to prepare the chickens for the next day's service. He rubs syrup into whole birds, quick fries them to brown the skin then braises up to thirty of them in more than 20 herbs and spices, including bay leaves, star anise and tsao-ko — a ginger-like plant you won't be finding in Blighty. A minimum of ten hours later, the most tender chicken we've ever tasted is ready: solo, with noodles, salad, or with rice. We currently like it best warm, with Hui's thick noodles in a spicy, cumin broth. But we do have a lot of combos to try, and we will be trying all of them.
Find Dongmei and Hui every day except Thursdays at Unit B, 109 Hurst Street in the Arcadian Centre. Dezhou Style Braised Chicken is in Cathay Alley, on the ground floor and if you go past here you've gone too far.


Taking a break from beefing with Kanye, the Canadian rapper, singer and all-round mecha-star brings his super-glitzy show to B-Town later this month. But will he be beefing in Brum this time round? And will the Original Patty Men be able to produce more burgers than he ordered from them back in 2017 if Drizzy's people call their people? Drake's Assassination Vacation Tour, comes to Resorts World Arena from March 26 to 28. For your chance to win two tickets for the March 28 date, follow this link.


Google "mead bars" or "mead cocktail menu" and you'll quickly realise that The Vanguard at 1000 Trades is trailblazing with intent when it comes to the ancient fermented honey drink of vikings and hobbits. Last night the only independent mead bar that we can ID in the world, launched a mead dedicated cocktail menu. Try Honey Yoghurt (pictured), a combo of Afon Mêl Heather Mead, lemon and cardamom with honeycomb on top. Or owner Sam Boulton's numero uno, Bassano Word which includes his fave ever mead, a drop that isn't even made any more. Open Wed to Sun. More


Weeks before Br**it, Our City looks at how immigration changed Brum. Released today and written by Jon Bloomfield, the book is about the influx from particularly, Pakistan, the West Indies, Poland and Ireland over past decades. And, through personal stories, Bloomfield's overwhelming view is that it’s all to the good, helping the city’s economy and robust culture. Whilst acknowledging the challenges of migrant communities, extremism, and the trap of low-grade jobs, this is a refreshingly optimistic book, in which one interviewee describes Brum as "a place where you can do anything". Anything. Buy it (£18.99)


Whatever your political leaning, you’d acknowledge that Eton’s PR could do with a helping hand given the antics of alumni Boris Johnson and David Cameron in recent years. Ivo Graham, on the other hand, does the place proud. The ex-Etonian is unashamedly whip smart and wears his public-school background like a badge of honour. Yet such is Ivo’s natural likeability that he’s always relatable. Family holidays, tales of sexual embarrassment and living with elderly relatives is something we can all get behind, and a night with Graham guarantees huge laughs. Oh, and as if Ivo couldn’t get any more relatable, he’s just become a dad for the first time, so be sure to raise a glass to him when you see him at Glee on April 10. Tickets are £12.


We'd never heard of Terence Blanchard either. But without knowing it we'd really enjoyed his music, via the soundtrack to Spike Lee's Blackkklansman in which a local branch of the KKK is outed. Turns out, we weren't the only ones — the New Orleans trumpeter and composer has just been awarded no less than an Oscar. Another highlight of his 2019 is bound to come in the form of a trip to dear Brum with his huge hearted band The E-collective and new album Blue Note Live. Expect powerful songs, reflecting on the endemic gun violence in America, but also expect hope. At the CBSO Centre on March 29, the first 100 people to use our nifty promo code get £10 tickets (usually £20.50). Enter "Terence10" before checkout.
Venue: Tattu, 18 Barwick Street, B3 2NT; website 
Choice: Saffron Black Cod (£30.50) Chooser: Waiter, Ross

Service can be the tricksiest of devils. Sublime examples of the stuff are often meal-making, while an uncomfortable exchange with your server can kill an evening dead. New, large restaurants probably struggle the most to get this right, which makes the seamless, knowledgeable, assured experience we had at Barwick Street's striking addition, Tattu, all the more impressive. Artfully constructed to accommodate quiet date nights, business meets, the odd family, and a sizeable, buzzy main dining room across its labyrinth-like ground floor, Tattu's five large cherry blossom trees and dreamy presentation make this squarely Instagram territory. But the absence of phone signal meant that refreshingly few were on their mobiles, instead actually talking to each other and getting stuck hard into the menu, which brings us neatly onto our picks: Start with a punchy, zingy gin, tequila and pink grapefruit Crouched Tiger (£10). Coming with its own mini-tree, the cherry blossom negroni looks better, but it's all about the tiger on taste. On starters, the seared tuna (£9.50) with ponzu, truffle aioli and caviar is a decadent bit of delicious, which works even harder with a crisp, dry glass of Akashi Tai Honjozo sake (£5). But off in some other stratosphere via multiple black holes in terms of taste is the team's saffron black cod. The silky, sumptuous piece of fish is grin-making in its own right but add the saltiness of little pieces of Chinese sausage and the bite of razor clams and you have yourself a dish. A knowledgeable, assured dish. 


Somebody important has to die in the next Avengers, right? The big clue is how Brie Larson’s new arrival to the MCU (that's the Marvel Cinematic Universe to the under-initiated) is clearly being positioned as a successor to Captain America’s slot as the dependable, slightly earnest leader of the squad – she even shares a rank. This means that her debut film may not have the wild creativity of the Ant-Man or Guardians of the Galaxy films, but it is a solid origin story for a character who’s clearly central to Marvel’s future plans. The Nineties setting is superbly done as well, avoiding the obvious clichés to instead make this at times feel like it was made back in the greatest decade of them all. A digitally de-aged Samuel L Jackson completes the period feel, and it's, well, a marvel – the first time this technology has been flawless. Times & trailer
Gas Street's got a cunningly named new tenant at No 52. The bar and club officially launched at the weekend and What the Cluck? is on pop-up eats this Friday from 5pm.
Stand up chortle-maker, Miles Jupp is playing David Tomlinson in the happy/sad tale The Life I Lead. Tomlinson is best known for his role as Mr Banks in Disney's classic film Mary Poppins. At The Rep from March 11 to 13, tickets from £15.

Bathe in twinkly, clever light installations from 5pm until 10pm all week outside Bullring. You'll even find LED ballerinas as part of The Festival of Light on Friday and Saturday.
Champagne, fish and chips is occurring and no one is even moving house. At Connolly's Dovehouse Parade store in Solihull on May 10, tickets for the tasting are £39.50.
You've got plans on Thursday, March 14. Lucky you! Head to The Pint Shop at 5pm to find out what in the bejesus we've been up to now. More

"Live without pretending, Love without depending, Listen without defending, Speak without offending."


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WORDS: Katy Drohan, Robb Sheppard, Richard Lutz, Andrew Lowry, James Gill
PICTURES: Dezhou — Thom Bartley, Captain Marvel — Marvel Studios, Walt Disney Studios

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