raw fish

Kuula Poke, Birmingham

This post comes to you high above France onboard a RyanAir flight to Sicily. I’m in holiday mode, on my sixth unit of booze and trying to forget the fact that I’m sandwiched between two volatile Italians, both of whom look fully aware that the last time a Carlo was on the island he was frog marched on to a boat by a man with a gun. It is as you expect a RyanAir flight to be; there is a screaming child, our plane was late, dirty, and my pull-down table doesn’t work, The uneven top threatening to spill the cheap red wine on to a surface that has a suspicious white residue from the previous flight. I’ll likely drink a few more of these wines between now and our landing at an airport which will probably be geographically closer to Palma, Spain, than Palermo, Italy.

There is a reason for me mentioning flight 666 from BHX to Hell. We have these shitty low budget flights to thank for the vast array of cuisines on our doorstep. Without flights we would still be clinging onto the empire for the sense of the exotic, with ships bringing spices from the sub continent, rum from the Caribbean, and an overdose of testosterone from Australia. Without air travel there would be no sushi, no ceviche, no hummus. Imagine a life without hummus. It’s no life for this drunk (seventh unit).

We would certainly have no Kuula Poke. How else would you get to Hawaii? Frankly I’m more astounded that anyone from Birmingham has ever been there. One, it takes a lot of effort and too many flights, and secondly, I imagine it’s full of yanks calling each other ‘bro’, crushing cans of piss-weak lager into their huge enamelled gobs and grinding on girls to the sound of Nelly. Or that’s how it is in my head. Well it’s here, smack bang in the heart of the business quarter, bringing bowls of healthy goodness to the suits of Birmingham.

And it’s lovely. Really really lovely. I wasn’t sure it would be my thing, but the bowl of tahini miso chicken is clean and fresh and zings with the exotic whilst still clinging on to the value of being a bowl of things that are good for the waistline. Not wanting to mess with the principles I take it as it comes; chicken, edamame beans, pickled carrots, brown rice, chilli, a super slaw — which is a very accurate description — topped with a creamy dressing that tastes a bit like hummus. Mmmm, hummus. I could have had the raw tuna, or the salmon; could have jazzed those up with pickled onions, or pineapple, or a variety of things I can’t remember now. Eighth unit.

Tenth unit. I’m told that they got Richard Turner in here to consult and that makes a lot of sense. For what is essentially a lunch offering, it has a certain swag and clarity that is clear from the second you enter. The service is top notch, the beer I drank ace, and the price fair. It’s class.

Over the next eleven days we’ll be avoiding car bombs in Palermo, climbing into the mountains in Erice, diving in the crystal clear waters of Ustica, strolling hand-in-hand on the beaches of Cefalu, staying in one of Italy’s finest vineyards, and seeing The National headline a festival in a castle. After that, should RyanAir deliver us safely back to the UK, I’ll be heading straight back to Kuula Poke.

8/10

Flying is overrated. Take an A2B instead