With a minimalist kitchen that looks more like that of a Spanish three-star than an Indian restaurant, Islam’s Jewellery Quarter flagship Opheem is an entirely different proposition to any other Indian restaurant in the UK.
The reason for this, Islam says, is that’s he isn’t an Indian chef. “I’m a Brummie,” he proudly declares. While he may have had a bit of a head start on account of his family’s Bangladeshi heritage, he is largely self-trained. Thus, Opheem offers progressive Indian dishes based on Islam’s own research into the cuisine, utilising modern European techniques that are rarely used in other Indian kitchens.
Islam’s signature dish of achaari pink fir potatoes with tamarind is a case in point. It sees potatoes water bathed, grilled, put through an espuma gun and deep fried in no less than three different ways (as crisps, pillows, and croutons) to create a stunning plate of food that feels distinct from what is served at top-end Indians in London. The restaurant is best known for its lengthy tasting menus, but keeps things accessible by way of a couple of less involved options including a great value set lunch menu.
Launched in 2018 and reconfigured in 2022, Opheem occupies a large site in Birmingham city centre. While the space does feature some Indian objects and design elements, it avoids the clichés of subcontinental restaurant design in favour of a strikingly modern and stylish look. Islam also runs highly-rated Argentine restaurant Pulperia down the road in Brindley Place.