Yesterday evening, after an enjoyable mug of peppermint tea at Pret a Manger, me and my other half decided to have dinner at Ekachai – a noodle bar in Selfridges, Birmingham. We had high hopes. The atmosphere was busy – amongst the hustle and bustle of a large department store – with all manner of shoppers meandering past. The seating is much like a sushi bar, where diners sit on stools round the central kitchen. It’s great – you get to watch fresh ingredients being cooked, sometimes with flames leaping into the air for extra drama, sometimes witnessing one of the chefs chopping up exotic-looking things for your viewing pleasure.
We both ordered Set Menu B, which was £16.50 for any starter, any drink (apart from champagne and bottles of wine) and any salad, noodle or rice dish. I chose a glass of Mcguigan Private Bin Chardonnay (Australia), Duck Spring Rolls to start and the Indonesian Nasi Goreng as the main rice dish. The wine was okay – it had been a stressful day, so frankly, I would’ve welcomed a fresh glass of cold hand-sanitizer to glug. It wasn’t too sweet or too dry but it certainly wasn’t close to the best white wine I’ve tasted.
The spring rolls arrived and were presented on a pile of almost-wilting salad leaves with a sweet chilli sipping sauce (in a clear plastic pot) to add taste. They were also, okay…nothing to write home about though. They had hardly any meat in them, and almost no flavour. This, unfortunately, set the precedent for the rest of the meal.
This particular Nasi Goreng was described on the menu as ‘Malaysian fried rice with egg, prawns, seafood sticks, squids and diced vegetables, chilli spices, garnish with prawn crackers and cucumber’. A slice of lemon was also provided. Now, considering it supposedly contained chilli spices and considering that Nasi Goreng was voted as number two in a 2011 online poll held by CNN International on their ‘World’s Most Delicious Foods’ list – you couldn’t tell. It ‘tasted’ like egg-fried rice with a bit of prawn thrown in. It was totally under-seasoned and if it wasn’t for the slice of lemon on the side of the plate, the meal would have been almost-completely bland.
So, overall, we were both very disappointed. I know that for the price, you can’t expect the best meal of your life, but even so – it would have only taken a bit of chilli and soy sauce to make it slightly more enjoyable. I don’t have the courage to risk wasting precious intestine space on going back there to try something else. I’d much rather go next door to Yo Sushi!, who provide value for money, the option of eating food with flavour and fun brightly-coloured plates.
Follow me on Twitter, if you like @weeatthings