I was back in Birmingham recently for some CPD[1] when I thought of checking out Yakinori[2] at Grand Central after a recommendation from a friend. The thing about this place is that it is all halal. So, I was expecting to be spoilt for choice, then.

I hadn’t been back in Brum for the longest time. I actually lived and worked in this city 19 years ago, so there had been a lot of changes, some of which (like the Bullring) I had seen like 10 years ago. Grand Central is the shopping precinct that is built on New Street Station itself, which is a marvel to behold today as it looks like an airport!

Anyways, met up with an old school friend and we then headed to check out what Yakinori had in store for us. It is a smallish place where the seating is for the most part arranged around in a U, with the kitchen staff practically preparing the meals in front of the patrons. Think Yo! Sushi. The menu looked a tad familiar – with the dishes labelled in orange letters, and the description all in black font. Think Wagamama. Nevertheless, enough with the comparison with other local Japanes-oid chain eateries. Time to taberu[3].

As an appetiser we chose sushi. I knew it was going to be a bad idea, as sushi can really fill you up if you are not careful. Especially when I was considering having hot food as the main. And adding, err… a set of ebi katsu as well. Sushi-wise I thought six pairs of nigiri and ura makimono would do fine – ika, hotate, salmon (no tuna today they said), unagi, and soft shell crab and crispy salmon skin (I think) ura maki. The salmon, ika and hotate were okay flavour-wise, but construction-wise was so-so, I thought. The shari (rice) was a tad crumbly and you really need to pick the nigiri up fast enough for it to reach your mouth before it broke into two. I also thought the shari could do with a tad more vinegar, as the whole experience was a bit bland.

For my main, I had this urge to have a kare raisu all week. And chikin (chicken) katsu kare was it. And the serving was large. As large as the one I had in Narita airport in 2016. The chikin katsu was crispy and golden brown. The pool of kare forming a golden brown moat around the rice was enough to get me going. I’m not too sure about that sole broccoli sitting on the side. And right I was, thanks to the sushi appetiser, I was struggling before I even reached the halfway line. I’d give full marks for the kare raisu.

My friend had the aromatic duck donburi, and as I don’t really eat Daffy, I believed him when he said it was pretty good. One last thing – the green tea is superb. Superb as in it tasted just like the powdered stuff I had at Genki, my fav kaitenzushi spot in Shibuya. I know, not exactly Japanese haute cuisine but I just love it.

I’ll give the sushi a miss but I’d come again for more kare raisu!

Unit 14 Stephenson Place
Birmingham B2 4BF

[1]Continuing professional development.
[2]Seaweed goreng?
[3]食べる means makan.