Miss Saigon is one of those big West End musicals that everyone should take the opportunity to see at least once. I was invited the the Birmingham Hippodrome to see the famous show and sample their special menu themed around the musical’s Eastern setting. I’d really recommend this approach because it makes for a very special evening and a complete experience.
We got to try all 4 of the starters on the special menu which was a real treat. There was White Bean Soup with Basil Pesto which was silky smooth. I think my pick of the bunch was the Vietnamese Prawn Summer Rolls with Sweet Chilli Sauce as for me these were light, but packed with flavour and everything was cooked just right which takes a bit of doing when you are dealing with such a mix of ingredients. My second best (and it was quite a close call) was the Salt Beef Croquette with Salad of Mooli, Shallots and Capers. I loved how the capers cut through and provided a zest and freshness to this dish. I also enjoyed the Goat’s Cheese Mousse with Marinated Tomatoes and Walnut Toast, but I didn’t feel it sat quite so well with the evening’s theme.
I loved getting the opportunity to try out the mini mains. It was quite difficult to pick out a favourite. I enjoyed the Pan-Seared Fillet of Coley with Rice Noodle, Samphire, Ginger and Spring Onion Broth, but I think my top choice would be the Honey-brushed Confit of Duck Leg with Celeriac Puree, Bok Choy and Star Anise Jus as it was packed full of deep duck flavours with the celeriac providing a good foil.
Another favourite was the Chilli & Coriander Crusted Pork Tenderloin with Soy & Sesame Braised Savoy Cabbage, which combined tried and tested British flavour combinations with Asian spices. The Yellow Curry Lentil Scotch Egg with Asparagus and New Potato Salad was a bit of a revelation as I would never have picked a scotch egg to order off the menu, but I did enjoy it.
Off to see the musical where we spent the first half enjoying the developing love story of Kim and Chris against the backdrop of the Vietnam war.
At the interval we had our desserts. I’m afraid the Matcha Green Tea Panna Cotta with Kalamansi and Sesame Tuille, but I’m not very keen on matcha tea and I think that flavour didn’t help make it a winner for me. I enjoyed the Poached Peach and Pistachio Cake, but for me the stand out was the Bitter Chocolate Tart with Lychee, Strawberry & Mint Compote. The chocolate tart got the perfect balance between bitterness and sweetness, plus you could clearly taste the quality of the chocolate that had been used to make it.
Back to the musical for a dramatic, if very sad, second half where I learnt a lot of about the aftermath of the Vietnam War and the children left behind. An evening to remember.