I’ve been meaning to write up about Minmin for a while – before I went on holiday, in fact. In the short time that Minmin has been open, it’s already garnered very favourable reviews from the resident restaurant reviewers in both local papers and is already a favourite amongst the Birmingham Twitterati. However, time was against me and I didn’t manage to write up about my visits before I went away and it’s popularity made me question if I should blog about them at all, worried that people already knew about Minmin. That said, Minmin was the one place I wanted to go back to as soon as possible after returning from my trip because for all my worries of being sick of the sight of Asian food after 3 weeks – even for someone whom loves noodles as much as I do, I actually found myself missing Asian food upon my return and wanted something to remind me of my trip – And Minmin does that exactly.
The first time I went to Minmin, I was struck by the interior with its modern with clean lines and no expense has been spared as nearly everything has the Minmin logo on it. The staff are friendly and helpful – Which was particularly good for us as unusually, none of us could make a decision on what to order. Usually, there are 2 or 3 items on the menu which catch my eye and it’s usually a matter of choosing whichever I’m more in the mood in. However, there were SEVERAL different types of noodles that I wanted to eat, then I had to decide what type of broth I wanted. All of this would have been relatively straightforward if it wasn’t for the fact that the soup and noodles selection was only 1 SIDE of the menu – There was the fried noodles and rice dishes on the reverse side of the menu. Seriously, we spent about 15 minutes choosing something, only to change our minds 10 seconds later when another dish spotted or another combination sounded more delicious than the previous one. Of course, this is all a good thing really because it highlights the many delicious possibilities you can have at Minmin. I think firstly, you need to decide if you’re in the mood for noodles in broth, stir-fried noodles or rice. From there, you’re on your own..
Right from the beginning, the food has been exemplary. Ramen is very fashionable right now and there have been several ramen restaurants opening in London in the past few months alone and all the reviewers are going a bit giddy about the quality of the broth and how gelatinous it is from boiling the pork down and rendering all the collagen and fatty goodness out (sounds horrid, but tastes fantastic). Here at Minmin, the broth is freshly made too and on one occasion, YKL couldn’t finish her bowl and took the remnants home and when she went to reheat the leftovers, the stock had actually solidified into a jelly – A great sign of how good their stock is. And yes, it tasted just as good heated up and it did fresh in the restaurant. I was particularly impressed with how good their wontons are – Too often wontons are just a bit of fatty or cheap pork with a bit of greenery and/or prawn in this country. But at Minmin, the filling of pork and substantial prawns were so fresh that it they were almost crunchy in texture – Miles better than what you currently get in Chinese restaurants in Birmingham and on a par with what you’d get in HK. (Although, they need to be the size of ping-pong balls to compete with my favourite wontons from Tsim Chai Kee).
But it’s not just their noodle dishes which are fantastic; there are gems all over the menu; my personal favourites are the Vietnamese style rice rolls (cheung fun) – four neat parcels of minced pork and wood-ear mushrooms wrapped in a rice flour roll and served with a tangy dipping sauce, it’s pretty much a “must order” item whenever I go. Similarly, their salt and chilli items are good – Especially the salt and chilli chicken wings and latterly, the soft shell crabs (which are a new addition to the menu). The batter can be a bit thick for some, but I like the crunchy texture of the batter against the soft shell crabs (though seasoning could do with being more evenly dispersed). Still, I wolf down the whole lot without too much complaint.
Their salads are absolutely fantastic; they’re more noodle salads but the squid salad and the seafood and mango salad (which the manageress decided I should try more than the squid salad I ordered on one occasion) are the kind of salads I would happily eat every day rather than the limp and/or dry lettuce you normally get in a salad. The seafood is cooked to perfection so not overcooked and rubbery, but rather they retain a certain bite to them – almost like a crunch, but I’ve never had the seafood overcooked from Minmin. Furthermore, the dressing is both sour and tart with a slight kick of chilli and a mild sweetness, but the result is that it opens up your appetite and before you know it, you’re shovelling in the salad into your mouth as fast as you can.
Since I’ve been back, they’re introduced a newer menu of additional dishes; including fish fragrant aubergines. Some of the other dishes I tried were equally fantastic; both tripe dishes (in either a hot and spicy sauce or the Thai sauce) were very moreish – The tripe in the hot and spicy sauce in particular was actually numbing my mouth and I had the misfortune to get a phonecall whilst mid-numbness – It’s not easy trying to pretend that everything is OK when you can barely feel your mouth and the tears are streaming down your face! That said, it didn’t stop me from going back for more! Similarly, the braised pork knuckle and beef shank dish is one of the more popular dishes on the new menu and quite rightly too – The pork knuckle is tender and meaty and both meats require little chewing.
Earlier in this post, I stated that I was worried about blogging about Minmin given how it’s already popular. I’m not delusional enough to think that this humble blog post will make a huge difference to their trade, but I just want to get it out there that here in Birmingham, we have a gem like Minmin. This is exactly the kind of place Birmingham needs – It’s similar, but very different to current places to eat in Chinatown and deserves our support (and custom) all the way. Everyone I know who’s been to Minmin noodles loves it and I love introducing my friends to this place because I know that they will have great food. Minmin is truly a gem and when they start producing their own noodles (as I believe they’re planning to do in the forthcoming months), that will set them every further apart from other places in Chinatown. But for now, you should absolutely go to Minmin if you are given the chance.