They do a dish at the Blue Piano for which all other dishes should be judged. It’s a carrot cake in type, though in reality a steamed radish cake; an even less palatable name for the everyday unadventurous natives of our fine country. You can see why they stuck with carrot. The cubes of steamed radish and rice flour are pale throughout, spare the edges, which have been lightly browned in a pan with scrambled egg that coats and adds an unctuous layer. They are spongy in texture, with only a little bite from a fine julienne of spring onion and chilli that adds a warming heat. It could easily be the best breakfast you have ever had, though here it is a starter, beguiling and delicious in equal parts. It must make the top ten, no, top five dishes in Birmingham.
Situated in a smart Victorian property in leafy Edgbaston, the food here focuses on South East Asia; the carrot cake from Singapore, others from Malaysia through to Cambodia. Its an intriguing mix that never hits the heights of the glorious starter. Another of pork puffs (their name, not mine) was light on meat and heavy on the doughy pastry, saved by a chilli jam that could rescue just about anything. A similar story with rolls of minced pork and prawns battered in to the corner by a heavy hand of five spice.
Curries of vegetable green and duck red feature sauces with the depth of someone who has been doing this a while. Each were fresh with lime acidity and seasoned with fish sauce, but invariably could have had more chilli kick in both. The duck in the red curry had dried out, though the jackfruit was a nice addition, cutting through the meat and giving a cleaner feel to the dish. Heavier and more substantial was the beef rendang nasi lamak, national dish of Malaysia and loosener of belt buckles. Long braised cubes of beef in a visually unappealing curry fragrant with coconut milk, with peanuts, dried anchovies, half a boiled egg, cucumber, coconut rice, and prawn crackers. The best bits happen when its all combined and piled high on to prawn crackers for a smack around the chops of texture and taste which only gets better when additional chillies arrive at the table.
We debate how acceptable it would be to order the carrot cake for dessert, and after viewing the sweet menu decide it is probably the wisest option. We don’t, only for the reason that the portions here are enough to fill even the greediest of gluttons, instead paying the bill that stays below thirty pound a head and retire to the nearby Edgbaston for further imbibing. The place was busy on a Friday evening and it’s obvious popular with the well heeled cliental, though I personally prefer their sister venue in Kings Heath, Blue Ginger, where the cooking feels more consistent in it’s smaller dining room. Still, it’s enjoyable and refreshing different from the Asian cuisine more readily available within the city. And they do a pretty amazing starter, if you haven’t already heard.