Famed food critic Jay Rayner hails small south Birmingham restaurant as a 2022 dining highlight
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Food critic and journalist Jay Rayner, who is the food reporter on BBC The One Show and a food critic for the Observer, probably has one of the tastiest jobs. He visits restaurants across the length and breadth of the country to review them.
On one such visit, he landed in Stirchley in Birmingham after reading a local food blogger’s praise of a small eatery there. He visited the location after reading about it on Meat & One Veg.
On Pershore Road sits Chancer’s Cafe within which lies the amazing Yikouchi restaurant run by James Kirk-Gould and his partner Cassie. Yikouchi restaurant, which runs from Wednesday to Friday, has been named as one of the best places to eat by the famed food critic.
Rayner’s visit to the area turned heads when a local resident “did a theatrical sharp intake of breath” while he stood at Bournville Station and said, “You’re not going to try and review somewhere here are you?” Rayner adds: “And I thought I was meant to be the sour-faced metropolitan snob.”
Rayner wrote in the Guardian: “Without doubt the passion project award goes to Yikouchi.” The restaurant by Kirk-Gould serves “dishes he loved most on his travels in China.” The ecstatic chef shared the review on Yikouchi’s Instagram page.
He said: “I’ve never won an award before! I got close to winning the plate in the year 9 inter-house basketball competition for Mclaughlin vs Creswell at the Woodlands School for boys, Coventry in 1999 but that ended in a lot of tears. Happy new year everyone and see you all soon.”
The restaurant on 1418 Pershore Road is open Wednesday Thursday Friday for lunch between 11am-2pm and Thursday-Friday evenings 6-9pm. Walk-in only.
Rayner called the restaurant a “love letter” and “an utter joy” in his review. The name - Yikouchi- pronounced ee-koh-chuh - is reportedly the beginning of a Chinese saying meaning “One mouthful won’t make you fat.” The restaurant offers cuisines from Hunan to Dongbei to Shanghai.
The restaurant was also reviewed by food critic Tom Parker Bowles in May 2002.
The owners - Kirk-Gould and his partner Cassie - lived in Beijing for six years and when they moved to France found the Chinese cuisine lacking. So, Kirk-Gould started cooking himself and eventually the self-taught cook got a job at the kitchen at Duck & Waffle in London.
The couple moved to Birmingham when they were expecting a child. Cassie - who had a sweet craving during her pregnancy - started making fudge and now runs Sweetmeat Inc, a fudge-making business in the shop next to the Chancer’s Cafe.
In October 2022, Yikouchi was included in the Good Food Guide UK and were awarded a "very good" rating. Kirk-Gould called it a “nice little surprise.”