Birmingham

Birmingham

Sabai Sabai bring in the festive season with their vibrant new restaurant in Harborne

Over the last 7 years, Sabai Sabai, known for their intimate space, welcoming atmosphere and delicious recipes, situated on Moseley’s popular Woodbridge Road, has put Thai cuisine firmly on the Birmingham food map.

I have always been a fan of Sabai Sabai, ever since it opened, and right from the beginning have made it my first choice of meeting place for all occasions from birthdays and work events to romantic dinners for two.

So, as regular fans, The Birmingham Gazette paid great attention to the announcement on Facebook, around six months ago, that Sabai Sabai were going to launch a sister venture in Harborne. 

Our interest was cleverly maintained by a Sabai Sabai Facebook campaign, sharing details with their loyal fan base of the painstaking conversion from concrete carcass into designer restaurant and wine bar. When, at last, we saw images of handmade furniture arriving all the way from Thailand into what was clearly an arresting interior, we were practically salivating with excitement. Of course, we had to sample this vibrant new venue.


What strikes you first when you walk through the door is the successful marriage of sleek East with chic West. The 270 degree panoramic floor to ceiling windows, so cleverly complemented by the elegantly lit “Birds Nest” centrepiece, are truly stunning.

I ask Torquil, the owner, to tell me more about the designer. "It’s Adam Tibbatts of Tibbatts Abel,” he says. “We chose Adam because as well as having an award winning portfolio he also has a wealth of experience in helping restaurateurs like Sabai Sabai aspire to new heights. 

His latest London club won Best New Club 2011 and his Birmingham wine bar and restaurant won Bar of the Year 2011.” 

Looking more closely, I notice how Adam and the Sabai Sabai family have meticulously planned every detail such as matching flower etchings in the glass with the delicate floral menu designs, all executed in their rich shades of pale oranges and purples. This boldness of vision, with so much achieved when still in their twenties, is really impressive.

Ciaran, brother of Torquil, is our waiter for the evening, and greets us with his seasoned Front of House mastery. Part of the Sabai Sabai story from the start, Ciaran handles every customer and table with grace and ease, making each guest feel welcome with his natural charm and subtle charisma. This restaurant has an altogether more open feel to its sister.

While Sabai Sabai Moseley is still the undisputed home of laid back funk, Harborne has stepped up into contemporary chic. Both are immensely well suited to their geographic locations. On surveying the menu, I am pleased to see that classic Sabai Sabai dishes are still being served, informing me that the authenticity of the original venture has not been lost. I am even more delighted to discover an array of new dishes Joint owners, husband and wife team, Torquil and Juree, have clearly invested time into searching for these, or investigating recipes passed down from Juree’s mum. It would be hard to find any dishes in the UK made with so much love and appreciation for the authentic ingredients.

And now for choosing; to start, my friend and I find it difficult to stray from two Sabai Sabai classics, a Satay Gai and the Tempura King Prawns. They come with mouth-watering dipping sauces, both pleasing to the eye and bursting with sweet aromas. Crafted to perfection, a light Tempura batter works deliciously with the fragrant plum sauce, coupling a delicate sweetness with aromatic spices for warming top notes on the palette. The peanut dip is an excellent accompaniment to the tender and buttery Satay Gai, and neither of us can decide which we like more. We drink Singha beer – the perfect refreshing tipple for washing down these intense flavours.

Choosing a main course is more than difficult. You can go for dishes straight from Southern Thailand through to Jungle curries, mixing a marriage of your favourite Thai flavours; the choice is endless. My friend decides to go for a duck platter and, as he is on a low carb diet, decides to opt for a hearty side order of broccoli stir fry instead of rice.

For my main, Ciaran gives me some help, as I am finding it hard to make up my mind, and, to be honest, I could eat everything on the menu quite happily. Ciaran recommends a Kratiem Pik Thai Pla – a seabass dish.

The duck arrives on a welcoming sizzling platter, complete with onions and topped with dried shallots. My friend comments on the delicateness of the palm sugar flavoured with tamarind, giving the tender slices of duck a warming sweetness overridden with sour. My sea bass is a triumph on the taste buds. Although sea bass is a delicate dish, the texture is still meaty. It’s like a hybrid between meat and fish, and I love it. This comes cooked in a pepper and garlic sauce with fresh red chillies, onions, baby corn, mange tout and spring onions. When the fish is all gone, I devour the rest of my coconut rice with gusto, mixing it with the remaining sauce left on my plate.


We are so full up,sadly we have no space left for desserts. Over two good cups of coffee, we discuss The Birmingham Gazette’s next excuse to come back for seconds; more please!


Visit www.sabaisabai-restaurant.co.uk or to book a table call 0121 426 2688.

Love the Life takes Brum back to the old school

With the Christmas party season just around the corner, The Birmingham Gazette thought it was high time to catch up with an old school legend, none other than Lenny Hamilton, to hear all about a revival of one of the 2nd cities most loved nights, ‘Love the Life’.

When Lenny walks in the room it’s hard not to notice his presence. Known around Birmingham as one of the cities prolific entrepreneurs, Lenny has had his hands in more pies than most have had hot dinners.

TBG: So what’s been happening in the Hamilton family lately?

Lenny: Well, this summer we went back to Croatia and had a blast at the boat party and the garden festival
. If anyone hasn’t been yet it’s well worth a visit. The country and the people are beautiful and both the food and drink are affordable even for those on a tight budget.

Other than partying I’ve been busy building my new fashion and home furnishing business Togs and Clogs so it’s been quite a year so far.

TBG: We’ve heard on the grape vine that you’re bringing back ‘Love the Life’, tell us in your own words how Love began all those years ago.

Lenny: Just over 8 years ago a group of mates who worked in all the independent music and menswear shops in Birmingham City Centre started ‘Love the Life’.




There were several of us, myself, Michael Hollywood, Donavan Love, Guy Carlos, and Tony one touch’ Mickey Evans.

After going out week after week to the same places, and listening to the music I decided that we should put on our own party that the whole of Brum could get into for free, and hear all types of rare records and have a few drinks with friends. Before long, everyone got on board, so Gary (R.I.P.) who used to visit my sneaker shop said I could use his venue…the legendary SNOBS!

TBG: You had some massive crowds in those days, what was that like?

Lenny: People just couldn't wait for a Love the Life party. It all started with just 300 People but at its height we had 1200 people when Jazzy B came up for the night - that was some event.

TBG: People still say that love the life was the best night they ever went to because it was all about the music and people not the attitude. As Lenny tells us it’s high time to make people smile and laugh again. Love the Life will be taking place at the infamous Hare & Hounds in Kings Heath on Boxing Day from 9 – late £2:00 all night with all the Love the Life collective providing the music on the night. For tickets just call


Mr Hamilton has been busy building the future of online style and his shop togs and clogs can get you all the latest fashion, accessories and home furnishing you could possible ask for this Christmas. Simply visit www.togsandclogs.com to have a look around.

Samsung creates the ultimate baby monitor - the perfect present for Christmas


For dad’s who just love their gadgets, or those looking to buy a last minute Christmas present for new parents, Samsung’s new baby monitor the 3035 SecureView is a sure winner. The ability to watch your child through Skype, and the addition of SD recording make this an excellent way to keep track of those early days with your baby.

If you’re buying it as a present, you can rest assured that the Samsung SEW-3035 SecureView Digital Video Monitor gives an incredible degree of peace of mind and the clarity is second to none.

The sleek and stylish design comes in a polar gloss white finish with a 3.5” colour LCD video screen that provides crystal clear images of your child within a 100m range.

Also, the state of the art wireless tech inside the device reduces the interference to zero. There is a clever 2X digital zoom to make viewing up close easy, a glowing, soothing nighlight, a built-in room thermometer, an eco power-save mode, a two-way talkback function and the ability to connect up to four cameras!

If that wasn’t enough to convince you to pick one up today, Samsung has pulled out all the stops. Not only can you watch your child there and then as they sleep, but you can also film them with an SD recording function.

If you’re a dad at work, and missing your newborn, why not configure the monitor with it’s easy to use Skype or MSN camera, meaning you can watch your baby in the corner of your computer screen while you work – surely that’s the best way to enjoy a lunch break.

You can even use the microphone button to speak to your baby from another room if they wake up crying. If they hear the sound of your voice sooner rather than later, it’s more likely that they will fall straight back to sleep, and you don’t even have to walk up the stairs.

You can even get family members who live abroad to enjoy the pleasure of watching their nephew, neice, or grandchild sleeping or playing – one of the best things about the digital age – we don’t even need to get on a plane any longer.

Samsung has, in many ways, created the ultimate monitor.

(Available from all good stockists)

The perfect way to announce the arrival of your newborn, with Bounty

Bounty (www.bounty.com) is mums’ best-loved source of advice and support for everyday parenting and has been giving mums more, for more than 50 years.

Bounty is a free to join parenting club that works with top brands, charities and government to provide mums and mums-to-be with product samples and information which help them to get the most out of family life.

With over 50,000 new members joining every month, more than 9 out of 10 new mums receive Bounty packs and information guides and on average, bounty.com receives more than 1.3million visits to the website each month.

The first precious days of your baby's life are what memories are made of,Bounty Portrait helps to capture those first moments in a beautiful portrait that you can treasure forever and share with all your family and friends.

For many years our professional photographers have been taking portraits in nearly 100 maternity units throughout the UK. We also exclusively offer our members the Bounty Birth Announcement- a free combined email and text announcement service that allows new parents to announce their big news and show off beautiful portraits of their newborn to family and friends–all within hours of the birth!



For more information visit www.bounty.com or ask your midwife when you're in hospital after the birth.

Drake to transform LG Arena into Paradise during UK tour


Grammy-nominated singer Drake is set to bring the sunshine to the LG Arena next spring, as part of his ‘The Club Paradise Tour’. The critically-acclaimed artist, who’s had hits with Rihanna, Nicki Minaj and Jay Z, will grace the venue’s stage on 19 April 2012.

He stormed onto the scene back in 2009 when he signed with Lil Wayne’s Young Money Entertainment label and released his, now-Platinum, album ‘Thank Me Later’. 

Now Drake has become one of the biggest Rap stars of recent years, boasting collaborations with the likes of Rihanna on ‘What’s My Name’.

Set to return to the UK for his 2012 tour, the passionate and dynamic performer promises that ‘The Club Paradise Tour’ will be a sonic and visual spectacle on a scale unlike anything he has accomplished in his already legendary career.

Returning to his roots, the tour will make stops at colleges throughout North America, before heading to Europe and landing at the LG Arena on 19 April. Drake will bring special guest Kendrick Lamar, a rapidly rising young rapper who was crowned"New King of the West Coast" by hip hop icons Dr. Dre and Snoop Dogg, in addition to A$AP Rocky, a much-buzzed about rapper whose chopped and screwed rap style has garnered positive press from publications such as The Fader, New York Timesand Stereogum.

Released in November 2011, Drake's second studio album ‘Take Care’ debuted atop the Billboard Top 200 chart at #1 and was the biggest first-week Soundscan tally of Drake's career, with over 630,000 copies sold. 

The eagerly-anticipated album was the third highest selling debut of 2011, clocking in behind Lady Gaga’s Born This Way (1.1 million sold) and label president and mentor Lil Wayne’s Tha Carter IV (964,000), which Drake also appeared. ‘Take Care’ arrived to a chorus of acclaim from critics and consumers alike with Rolling Stone raving that Drake "seamlessly blends those genres (Pop, R&B, Rap) in fluid, rich tracks.”, and New York Times anointing Drake as “hip-hop’s current centre of gravity”.

To find out more about the tour and what else is coming up at the LG Arena, visit www.lgarena.co.uk.

Tickets for Drake’s ‘The Club Paradise Tour’ go on sale at 9am on Friday 16 December, priced at £35.00 (plus booking and transaction fees). Tickets are available from The Ticket Factory: www.theticketfactory.com or 0844 338 8000.

Munchkin provide a safe way to dispose of nappies

Is it getting you down trying to keep the house smelling fresh when changing dirty nappies? Well Munchkin has a patented self-sealing system that tightly seals the bag after you’ve disposed of each nappy. Furthermore, the Munchkin has an ingenious baking soda, odour eliminating mechanism which keeps the room where the bin fresh. Each time the lid is closed, odours are neutralised in a safe way.

The best ideas are always the simplest and our new mums thought the product was a great and most of all, simple solution to the age old problem of smelling bins.

The fact that no harmful chemicals are present is a bonus, and another feature which they liked was that you can refill the cartridge with your own baking soda rather than having to buy expensive re-fills. 


For more information visit www.munchkin.com

Power your babies imagination with the Fisher-Price® Laugh and Learn Collection!


The world is an exciting place full of wonder for babies. An environment packed with fun, colours, sounds and textures to explore encourages them to grow and understand the world around them. That’s why Fisher-Price has developed the Laugh & Learn collection – to help you understand how your baby can learn through the joy of play. Because babies learn best when they’re having fun!

Introducing numbers, letters, opposites and early role-play, every toy in the collection has been designed to bring giggles galore to playtime… 

NEW! Laugh and Learn Alphabet Train

All aboard the fun train! With two fun modes of play including Learning and Music, this colourful choo choo has so many things to discover. In Learning mode, baby can press the funnel to reveal letters of the alphabet or, in Music mode, bat at the roller to activate fun songs, phrases and animations on the screen. As your little one begins to get on the move, when he pushes the train along he will be rewarded with a special 'Choo Choo' song to encourage him to keep moving.




NEW! Laugh and Learn Lantern
This fun light-up lantern comes with 3 great modes of play to grow with baby - Learning, Music and Imagination. In Learning mode, the 1-2-3 song introduces early numbers in a fun sing-a-long format. In Music mode, baby can roll the front of the friendly lantern to hear nature sounds and a sweet lullaby. As baby develops, Imagination mode introduces animal sounds for their camping adventure including crocking frogs and chirping crickets!




NEW! Laugh and Learn Apptivity Case

Now your techo tot can play their very own apps on your iPhone or iTouch with this specially designed rubberised case. Safely stopping babies from accessing the phone, and equally protecting the phone from dribbles and grubby fingers, the durable case comes with chunky handles, perfect for little hands.

Apple products not included. Compatible with iPhone 1G, 3G, 3GS, 4G and iPod Touch 2G, 3G and 4G. 



Laugh and Learn Smart Screen Laptop

The interactive LED screen brings baby’s first laptop to life with fun images and light patterns. Simply push any of the nine buttons or roll the mouse to hear rewarding words, songs and sound effects while the screen shows colourful images. With two modes of play: Learning and Music, and 12 songs, baby learns all about colours, shapes, letters, numbers, opposites, objects, and more!

 For more information or to purchase any of these products visit www.fisher-price.com/uk




Rock With Laughter stars nominated for comedy award

The British Comedy Academy selected just six comedians for the vote and Graham, who will host Rock With Laughter, and comedian Sarah Millican are included in the shortlist.

The public can vote for their favourite comedy performance by visiting the Channel 4 website. The British Comedy Awards has been the premier accolade for all comedy programmes, performers and producers across the UK television industry since 1990. The Awards will be broadcast live on Channel 4 on Friday 16 December, which coincides with Graham and Sarah performing at the opening night of Rock With Laughter.

In the year that saw her complete a nation-wide sell out tour, embark upon another, secure her own BBC 2 TV show and become a regular face on the UK's top comedy television shows, Sarah Millican has ascended to become one of the nation's best loved comedians.

Rock With Laughter Producer, Steve Hutt, said:

“We truly believe that this year’s Rock With Laughter line up is the best ever.  Knowing that both Sarah and Graham are nominated in this highly prestigious category is testimony to our belief.   We wish the very best of luck to both of them.  It’s so exciting to think that both will be performing at Rock With Laughter whilst the awards take place and by the end of the evening, we’ll know if one of them has been crowned King or Queen of Comedy 2011.”

Elsewhere, Graham has hosts a wide variety of shows including The Eurovision Song Contest, Would You Rather (for BBC America) and his own Saturday morning Radio 2 show.

Tickets are priced between £22.50 and £32.50 (plus booking and transaction fees); to book and find out more, visit http://www.lgarena.co.uk.%20rock/

The Extraordinary Adventures of Rue "Rocknrolla" Jay

When Rue Jay was ruling the airwaves of the Pirate Radio scene in Brum back in the late 90s and the upper echelons of the music industry were sending him white labels on tap to play out to the masses, little did he know that 15 years later he’d be running one of the most successful house music events in Europe and would become such an integral part of the Midlands clubbing scene!

Head hunted to run just about every label or club night the 2nd city has ever produced there are none that come close to his fierce desire to succeed – and by succeed we mean give Birmingham the best music industry and parties the city has ever seen by sheer determination and graft!

Forget the major brand venues. They just use their name to bring in multimillion pound refurbs and investors but they lack soul, character, and can’t come close to competing with the Masterful Mr. Rue Jay.

As Rue took Spin, and Bambu to new heights over the last decade, he also turned his hand to other industries, appearing in films, tv cameos, modeling, advertisement campaigns and also winning Galaxy Manhunt 2010.

A little over a year ago something just clicked, all the ingredients were thrown into the mix at just the right time and Rocknrolla was born.

It’s hard to believe just how much happened in its first 12 months. An infant compared to the old school names that have dominated the city for the last ten years, it manifested itself as thumping, stomping, all singing, all dancing giant knocking all competition off the top spot as the best of the best after hours music night in Birmingham. In its first year Rocknrolla has already graced some amazing festivals and clubs including hosting the VIP at Global Gathering 2011, The World DJ Music Festival (Seoul, South Korea where the boys hosted their very own stage holding no fewer than 7000 people and late this summer the brand hosted the back room at the worlds biggest club, Space, Ibiza! Early 2012 see’s the biggest announcement yet from Rocknrolla! All that can be said is ‘watch this space cos this is huge!’

It a great start too, housed in none other than the Rainbow Warehouse and in just a few months had seen superstars such as Example, Ms Dynamite, Howard Donald (Take That and even judge Jules appear behind the decks amongst many others.


Rocknrolla was destined for great things though and Rue Jay had a master plan being drawn up in the board room. 

This would be a blue print for the future, a no nonsense - “You’re either with us, or you’re against us” moment of epiphany when fellow major players from the Brum scene and equal partners Micky Slim, Will Bailey and Alex Schmitz - gave birth to an epic brand new venue – Birmingham’s most anticipated venue since the Fantasia days back in the 90s, THE ROOFTOP.

The rest is history, be there or be nowhere, every Saturday from 1pm till dawn – for the future...

Brindley Place still has the Edge

For the last eleven years, Thai Edge in Brindley Place has capitalised on the areas clean lines and red brick spaces, creating a small Thai oasis in the heart of the cities financial district.

With classic through to contemporary dishes, Thai Edge has grown from strength to strength by getting to grips with its marketplace effortlessly. As one of the leading Thai restaurants in the country their award winning chefs treat us a memorable and unique culinary experience. 


With ingredients all completely fresh, and imported from Thailand, coupled with excellent and friendly service I was very pleased that our waitress was one of the friendliest people you could meet. 


Head chef Jeensanthai Mit (Taiman) has created the menu at Thai Edge which is a marriage of centuries old Oriental and European influences harmoniously combined with a unique taste, full of colour and vibrancy where the high of the fresh ingredients is never disguised. Thai cuisine is popular for its subtle blending of flavours, utilising herbs and roots such as lemon grass, basil, coriander, galangal, krachai, ginger, garlic and chillies.

Our waitress explains that dishes are not eaten in any particular order. The dishes should be as varied as possible-mild with spicy, grilled with soupy and fish accompanying meat. The rule of thumb is the more variety the better. Rice is the essential component of any meal, and because of the effort Thai farmers put into growing it, it is regarded with respect, not to be wasted – every last grain to be eaten.

I opt for a variety of dishes starting with TOM KAH PAK - Chicken soup with coconut milk, lemon grass, galangal and fresh chilli. This goes well with a rich peanut Satay Chicken and we have a selection from the seafood platter to start too. This includes a prawn roll, chicken wrapped in pandanus leaves, and a chargrilled King Prawn coupled with a classic selection of mild, hot and sweet sauces. 


My partner also tries a TORD MUN KHOA PHOD, a fried sweetcorn cake complete with plum sauce. If you're on the move, for example a quick work lunch and are keen to get in and out within 45 minutes or so, the best thing to do is to buy from the lunch menu, an express menu where the starter, rice and main come at the same time so you can speed up your dining time.


For our main I decide to try a pork dish, the MUSSAMAN CURRY a coconut and peanut flavoured dish that is both rich and creamy, and works perfectly with the Jasmine rice that comes with it.

There really is so much to choose from that you could come back every day for a month and still only sample half the menu.

Finally for desert we share a dish recommended by our waitress. KAOW NEOW MA MUANG is fresh mango with coconut flavoured sticky rice, coconut cream and mango ice cream. The rice is absolutely delightful, a real Thai traditional feast and mixed with the gorgeous mango ice cream and fresh fruit slices in perhaps the highlight of this Eastern feast.



Christmas at Thai Edge
Spend Christmas at Thai Edge and enjoy our sumptuous Thai cuisine which will inject an authentic taste of Thailand to your celebrations this festive period Thai Edge has plenty of dishes with the signature Thai spice in to warm you up this Christmas. With the lunch time menus starting at £22.95pp or the dinner at £29.95 pp, book your office party or family gathering to enjoy Chef Boi’s special chicken green curry and grilled king prawns.  

Please see our Christmas menu here: http://www.thaiedge.co.uk/christmas-2011 
For more information or to book a table visit www.thaiedge.co.uk or call 0121 643 3993

Brum to launch lottery to boost funding for arts, sport and culture


A company outside of Birmingham City Council will be brought in to manage their pioneering People’s Lottery plan, in a bid to raise vital funds for city arts, sport and culture.

Birmingham City Council’s Cabinet is discussing the opportunity to introduce a city lottery to fund good causes – an idea originally put forward by a member of the public during last year’s budget consultation.

The meeting will also be asked to agree to the procurement of a lottery operator to hold the franchise for both the development and delivery of the Birmingham People’s Lottery.

Initial research has revealed that the market for lotteries is growing, particularly so in the last couple of years, and that Birmingham would be one of the first local authorities in the country to consider setting one up.

Many lotteries are run by third-party organisations called External Lottery Managers (ELMs) and the term ‘lottery’ can cover a wide range of products including subscription, draw-based, scratch cards etc.

Apart from a small amount of up-front and in-house council costs, any lottery operator – with a franchise contract – would be responsible for all other costs including funding in-depth market research; agreeing arrangements for funding good causes; and developing a model for prize funds.

Council Leader, Mike Whitby, said:

“This is very early days and we are still consulting on the idea, but we want to open up discussions with professional operators so that we can hit the ground running if we decide to move forward.

“Initial feedback on the concept has been positive and this is potentially a very exciting and innovative way to raise funds, support good causes and offer individuals the chance of a windfall.

“Certainly, I hope a successful lottery could support and enhance a whole range of arts, sport and cultural aspirations.”

With all the reductions in public services, the lottery should put back some of the money which has been taken away by recent cuts.