It was a happy accident that I discovered Bugis St Brasserie: I had read that the Millennium Copthorne Hotel had hired a chef in from Singapore to run this new in-house restaurant and it immediately appealed to my Chinese-ness. However, I hadn’t had the opportunity to try it until an unfortunate incident where another restaurant gave away my 8.30pm reservation for a Birthday meal so I was left with 2 sisters with no reservation or anywhere to eat at 9pm on a Saturday night in Birmingham. Great! We were left severely pissed off and our hunger didn’t help when trying to be civil to each other. It was then I remembered Bugis St Brasserie, one quick phonecall to check last orders (10pm) and we were on our way.
The menu has the usual fare that you would expect to find in a Chinese restaurant of Cantonese and also some Szechuan dishes, but we all skipped over these pages and headed straight for the Singaporean and Malaysian Specialities. That’s not to say that the Cantonese and Szechuan dishes are bad per se, but rather I suspect I could get better versions elsewhere, possibly even cook better versions myself. And well, the *really* interesting dishes are in the Singaporean and Malaysian Specialities section. All the dishes in this section were ones that we had all heard of and even tried at various stages in our lives and travels, plus they were dishes that are still relatively hard to find in restaurants, especially outside of London. There is another Malaysian place in Birmingham which I’d been to, so I was especially keen to try it out here to see how they fared – And how I’m glad that we did:
The food here is very nice. Sure, you could argue it’s authenticity but given there are a limited number of Singaporean and Malaysian restaurants in Birmingham, this isn’t too bad a place to try. The Hainanese chicken rice has plump, moist and tasty pieces of chicken, the Char kway teow doesn’t skimp on the ingredients and there is plenty of wok-hei, their Nasi Lemak has me constantly craving for it with their soft rice combined with the roasted peanuts, the crunch of the ikan bilis and most of all, the fire of the sambal. It’s so good that I don’t necessarily need the crispy fried chicken pieces – Just give me the rice, ikan bilis and that delicious sambal! There is also the fact that this is the only place I can get a decent Sago gula melaka in Birmingham – Small tapioca pearls in a palm sugar syrup, topped with coconut cream. It’s so good that I have been known to eat out in a different restaurant and come here just for the Sago gula melaka.
Service is generally attentive and pleasant. In fact, my only gripe (if you can call it that) is that the portion sizes aren’t very big – That’s not to say that they are small, though. It’s more that the food is so nice that you will want to carry on eating it, thus want a bigger portion. Yes, I realise how greedy that makes me sound, but just thinking about their Singaporean laksa now has got me salivating.
I’ve already mentioned that it may not be the most truly authentic Singaporean or Malaysian restaurant, but if you’re after something different to the usual fare found in the Chinese Quarter of Birmingham, then I would wholly recommend Bugis St Brasserie. Or, eat elsewhere and if you like tapioca, go there for the Sago gula melaka.