16 February 2013

Caffe Chino: Birmingham's Oriental Cafe

A few days ago my friend Kelly took me to a charming Oriental cafe called Caffe Chino. Serving Bubble Tea and a whole range of different Oriental bakes I present a hidden gem within Birmingham's Chinese Quarter. Serving me something that I became quite accustomed to during my trips to NYC's Chinatown! Let's get down to Caffe Chino! Just make mine a HK chilled brew B!

I recently returned to Birmingham because I spent one year away in Newark, New Jersey for my Industrial Placement. Yes, I have missed Birmingham so I thought now with my blog almost reaching its first birthday I wanted to seek and discover other places in Birmingham, the first time around I was about the party! I accepted a visit to Caffe Chino with my friend Kelly to see what all the fuss was about. I can now say that I'm glad I discovered this Oriental cafe when I did because I can appreciate the sweet treats that are for purchase there. Tucked away down Cathay Street is the home of some seriously tasty Oriental treats and Bubble Tea. Being formally reintroduced to Southside I took a chance on Caffe Chino, I wanted some Bubble Tea to remind me of my nights spent within the crazy of NYC's hectic Chinatown. Oh, Southside served greatness, of course Kelly found a winner! Get it together Brum!

Caffe Chino's cutesy image didn't exactly take me back to the harsh streets of New York City's Chinatown for it gave me a new perspective that this new Birmingham chapter was actually happening! Settling back into student living I was itching to see something new, I had previously been around the city centre of Birmingham for the first time since I moved back to my halls of residence. I wanted to adopt a new mantra 'see more, do more' because my previous semesters hadn't been very eventful during the daytime, I was going to endorse the nightlife but wanted to see more interesting finds like Caffe Chino. Being connected with the Gay Village in Birmingham I recognised that the Chinatown would be a useful place to get to know better, if I'm spending time there during the night I can make time during the day for some Chinese food and then finish with some treats at Chino's. Plus, catching up with a good friend is the best excuse to have a treat! Yes, Southside rocks B!

Making our orders I was feeling in a reminiscent mood about my first discoveries of Bubble Tea from NYC, so I choose a cold Hong Kong style Bubble Tea. This ice cold tea smoothie tasted lovely even if it had quite a bitter aftertaste, but I know that honestly it was worth every penny! Accompanying my Bubble Tea was a piece of heavenly cheesecake, this wasn't just any Cheesecake for Chinese cakes are made using different methods to make the cakes taste sweeter. If truth be told I had never had a cheesecake that tasted so good before! I loved my Oriental inspired Cheesecake, this Chinese Cheesecake had a very light texture that enhanced the cake's flavours because it tasted great! Obviously I had been to Birmingham's Chinese Quarter before as I have eaten at some of the many restaurants over the years but I never knew Chino's was there! Birmingham, I'm going to pay attention to you now I'm back!

Birmingham's Chinese Quarter has clearly been present for some time but has a more small community feel compared to other Chinatown's I have previously been to. I believe that each Chinatown throughout England, America, the Netherlands and other more further afield places have differences that gives a sense of individuality and charm. It goes without saying that Birmingham's Chinese Quarter should keep doing what it does! I've not paid a whole lot of attention to Birmingham's Chinatown whilst I have been living in Birmingham but I pledge to change that notion. The chattering of the Mandarin and Cantonese languages could be heard all around, during our visit to Caffe Chino it wasn't difficult for us to hear a Far Eastern styled conversation behind us, I don't understand those words but I'm sure Kelly did? Like I mentioned before my taste-buds were tantalised by my Hong Kong style cheesecake! Caffe Chino, maybe you could give me the recipe one day? Just maybe?

Caffe Chino offers so much more than just cakes, pastries and drinks. If you like Oriental snacks and sweets then this cafe has lots to offer. It's not just about those bubbly tea drinks because there's all kinds of sweet drinks to enjoy! Displayed neatly on the opposite to the drinks counter and pastry fridge are Pocky sticks, Chinese and Taiwanese biscuits, crisps and other sweet goodies. I personally didn't buy anything as I wanted to conserve my spends so I could buy another cake. Caffe Chino surprised me because the selection of products rivaled sweet shops in London's Chinatown. Cathay Street, gives Caffe Chino some rich competition as the other bakeries didn't really look as invited as Caffe Chino did, I guess this cafe knows what its doing because I'll be coming back for more! Loving London's Chinatown is easy but places like Caffe Chino steals the trophy for Birmingham! That's the word on Birmingham's Cathay Street!

My experience at Caffe Chino would have been incomplete without Kelly, my friend and classmate from University College Birmingham. Me and Kelly had a great time at Caffe Chino after not seeing each other for over one year, our post-placement catch-up was lovely! Kelly is originally from Hong Kong so she's familiar with all the products that Caffe Chino specialises in, that helped me a lot and showed me something new! Kelly and I had a great time talking and enjoying our Oriental delights. Caffe Chino and Birmingham together welcomed us back to our University semester very nicely indeed! After we enjoyed our cakes and Bubble Tea Kelly showed me a whole new method of how to buy cakes and pastries the Hong Kong way! I hope to reach the Far East to both China and Hong Kong but for now I'll enjoy the Birmingham delights of Caffe Chino. Aside from the Gay Village I know that I'll be spending more time in Southside because of Caffe Chino! Of course the only way is Hong Kong! 

I Love HK Bubble Tea!

Joseph Harrison

No comments: