Minmin Noodle Bar, Bromsgrove St, Birmingham B5 6AB. Tel 0121 622 5955.

Returning to a cheap restaurant about which you have waxed lyrical some years before is a daunting prospect .

Were you over-enthusiastic on your last visit, swayed by the joy of discovery?

Has the place’s standards declined?

Does it still provide value for money?

Thus it was with some trepidation that I walked back into Minmin , about which I raved after I ate there in August 2012.

My misgivings were unnecessary for this is a gaff just as good as I’d remembered.

In fact, in a city in which it’s difficult to find good-quality Far Eastern food, it’s an utter gem.

Seaweed rolls from Minmin Noodle Bar in Birmingham City Centre.
Seaweed rolls from Minmin Noodle Bar in Birmingham City Centre.
 

Let’s get one thing clear – it’s more cafe and noodle bar than restaurant and not a place in which you’d enjoy a romantic candle-lit dinner for two.

The menu ticks a lot of Oriental boxes with dishes from across that region, though there’s an unmistakable Vietnamese influence.

And it was that style of food I ordered as a starter.

The Vietnamese rolls that emerged from the kitchen were extraordinary.

Crisp coating enclosed a soft stuffing of prawns, fish and seaweed to create an explosion of ozone flavours mitigated by a restrained dipping sauce.

My wife Lynn’s choice – chunky, meaty, moist chicken wings glazed with honey and chilli – were also a treat.

The sweet and spicy flavours were perfectly balanced.

Both servings were generous, but none remained uneaten when the charming, efficient waitress came to collect out plates.

Here were dishes freshly prepared with skill and care and without resort to the monstrous monosodium glutamate additives that spoil so much food of this type.

The same can be said of the main courses to which we progressed.

There was nothing fancy about mine – a small mountain of sweet, shredded cabbage dotted with chunks of succulent belly pork deftly flavoured with five spice powder.

Pork and cabbage from Minmin Noodle Bar in Birmingham City Centre.
Pork and cabbage from Minmin Noodle Bar in Birmingham City Centre.
 

This was homely and satisfying cooking that celebrated and highlighted the glories of two simple ingredients.

The soft-shell crab that Lynn ordered was among the most expensive dishes on the menu.

It’s not an easy thing to get right – the batter can be greasy if cooked at too low a temperature, the meat tough if cooked too long.

Again, it was a dish executed with precision by the kitchen – the coating crunchy, the crab sweet, soft and tasty.

The bowl of fried rice that we ordered as a side wasn’t needed by two with such dainty appetites and so remained virtually untouched.

Nor were desserts ordered, though I was tempted to learn what wonders the chef might produce.

Throughout the meal, service was swift, although the place was busy and food was clearly cooked to order.

Minmin is licensed, with a particularly tempting selection of Oriental beers.

Family-run, there’s a sense that they take very seriously the business of serving good value, good quality food at a good price.

More than two years after my first visit, it’s great to know that the high standards I encountered back then have been maintained.

Soft shell crab from Minmin Noodle Bar in Birmingham City Centre.
Soft shell crab from Minmin Noodle Bar in Birmingham City Centre.
 

Fact File

Expect to pay... around £22 per head for two courses and drinks.

Cut costs... by filling up on one of the glorious noodle dishes.

Plenty of vegetarian, meat and seafood choices.

Child and disabled friendly.

Parking... multi-storey opposite.

Three places to eat cheap

MERRYMAID: Not the nicest looking pub, but really tasty tandoori dishes and curries. 263 Moseley Rd, Highgate B12 0EA. 0121 440 3043.

CAFE OPUS: Simple but great quality food at this charming place in the Ikon Gallery. 1 Oozells Square, Brindley Place, Birmingham B1 2HS. 0121 248 3226.

JU JU’s: A friendly little licensed cafe offering more substantial meals as well as snacks. Canal Square, 100 Browning St, Birmingham B16 8EH. 0121 456 3384.