I’m always late to the party. We know that. But I get there eventually. All the most esteemed food fans in Birmingham have waxed lyrical about Tiger Bites Pig already and all gave it the thumbs up, so how could I not go?
Before we start, let’s talk about bao, since that what Tiger Bites Pig serves. You probably all know, especially if you’ve headed to a street food place as they seem super popular there. Often called steamed buns, they’re soft pillows of dough, steamed in bamboo and filled with all manner of deliciousness. Sometimes the filling is hidden inside, other times the dough is folded over so it looks like a kind of sexy, oriental sandwich.
Needless to say, I like them. There’s something alluring about the dough, its voluptuous appearance, soft, yielding texture, and the tasty treats it hides inside. Tiger Bites Pig is all about the bao. That and rice bowls. No jack of all trades here – they do what they do, and they do it well.
The non-Brummie readers of this blog will appreciate that Tiger Bites Pig is literally a 30-second walk from New Street station, making it perfect to pop to if you’re on a visit for the day. I’d suggest that you probably need to be looking for it to find it, but that’s fine, since once you’ve read anything about it, you probably are.
It’s small, it feels authentic, and you can see the bamboo steamer right there in front of you. Perch up at the bar or by the window and choose your bao – a tough choice on our visit. I was torn between pork belly, white cut chicken, twice-cooked smoke breast and the highly-recommended braised beef shin. My friend had an easier choice, opting for the salt and pepper tofu.
At £4.50 each, you can have a couple if you like, but we decided to opt to share one of a salt and pepper tofu rice bowl – again highly recommended. There’s a chicken option too, but that would have been unfair on my vegan friend.
For drinks we could have had Asahi lager, Japanese craft Roku gin or Suntory whisky (soft drinks are available too, obvs) so we opted for a gin with Double Dutch tonic – a bit different but up there with some of the nicer gins I’ve tried, plus presented rather beautifully too. Anyway, enough of that. On to this bao…
Despite being tempted by the red braised pork belly, I decided since the braised beef shin came so highly recommended, I’d have to try it. It’s one of those beautiful bits of food that gets your tastebuds going before you’ve even tried it. The aforementioned soft, pillowy bun oozing with the beef and topped with a cured egg yolk.
The beef itself is rich, with a heady earthiness of shiitake mushrooms and the tang of chilli. It’s indulgent and has the texture and flavour that can only be obtained by hours and hours of cooking. I’ll confess to never having had a cured egg yolk before but I’m 100% a convert. The flavour is intense and beautifully savoury, the texture unlike anything I’ve tried before but equally delicious.
The whole thing made for a true delight. The perfect combination of subtle bun, rich, unctuous, beef and that glorious egg. My mate reckons her salt and pepper tofu version with ‘fish fragrant aubergine’ was as good but I’m not convinced it was as good as my beef.
I’d heard a lot about the rice bowl and again, it was everything people said it would be. A rainbow of colour, piling pickled vegetables and another cured egg yolk on top of rice, with more of that aubergine that I’ll admit was pretty nice, and topped with fresh coriander and some of that salt and pepper tofu. As tofu goes, this is probably the nicest I’ve ever had – slightly crispy on the outside with none of that horrible rubbery texture you sometimes get.
It’s been said before and I’ll agree that at £8 this is a great filling, healthy, hearty, tasty meal. Full of bright colours flavours, contrasting textures, and a cacophony of flavours. I would eat one of these every day for lunch if I could.
I think it’s clear what the conclusion of this blog post will be. Tiger Bites Pig is a winner. The concept is simple, it’s authentic, and it’s well executed. The food hits the mark in every area from flavour through to price. In short, they said Tiger Bites Pig is great and they were right. Go there, you won’t regret it.
We paid in full at Tiger Bites Pig. All my views, as ever, are my own.