So you might wonder why I accepted an invite to go to East Street, newly opened on the site of the former Eagle Bar & Diner. I'll be honest. I was seduced by the website. It's all pretty and colourful! And not a California roll of sushi in sight. I had high hopes.
I took a friend I knew would know his Asian and between us we picked dishes that spanned across the continent. Edamame was served freshly steamed and warm while we waited for our first dishes to appear. Bulgogi was thinly sliced grilled beef served with lettuce leaves and kimchi. The beef was grilled nicely to pink and it went well with the spicy kimchi. Wrapped up in a leafy parcel it was pleasant enough.
Tempura prawns were nicely battered crisp, served with the standard tempura dip. Though well priced at £5.75 for the dish, I think you should either pad it out (surely some tempura vegetables can't break the bank?) or use a smaller plate. It seemed sparse.
When our waitress explained the menu to us - and when I say explained, I mean read out the titles - the salads were described as suitable as a main course. Uhm. No. But when shared alongside, it was very nice. The chicken was nicely grilled and the vegetables crunchy, but we both agreed it needed more sourness, a bit more pep. The advertised coriander was barely there.
Special dish of the day was Mee Goreng, from Malaysia. This is a dish of fried yellow noodles with meat, sometimes pickles and egg, often cooked in lard for extra deliciousness. The dish presented to us was nothing of the sort. It was gloopy and lacked any of what we call in Cantonese 'wok hei', breath of the wok. That's the smoky, charcoal smell you get from frying things in a wok at a high heat - that's the kind of smell you encounter all over South East Asia.
My own dish, Khao Soi noodles was billed as chicken and yellow noodles in red curry sauce. A whole two chillis sit next to this menu listing so I was expecting something nose clearing, or at least sweat inducing. Disappointingly, it didn't even induce a sniffle. Again, it was gloopy and rich without enough lime or fresh red onion to cut through that heavy coconut. Deceptively deep, the bowl turned out to be quite small for the £8.95 they were charging though given that I lost interest half way through all the better for the small serving. Why bother with this? What is even the point in saying it's hot on the menu when you won't make it so? This sort of thing really pisses me off; if you're too lame to serve dishes authentically spiced, then don't serve it at all. Open a pie and mash shop or something.
That famous mango with sticky rice dessert seen all over Bangkok was a total disaster. The claggy clump of sticky rice was barely sweet and physically taxing to get through, the coconut cream served either side of it rendered completely useless. The mango was only just ripe, perhaps a touch under given it had still a powdery texture. Miles away from the real thing.
The Malaysian bubor pulot hittam was a black glutinous rice dessert with coconut cream and palm sugar. This was luxurious and tasty, the rice nicely cooked.
All in all, it was as expected. Jack of all trades and master of none. I know people will love this; the bright colours, Cath Kidston-esque decorated stools and the manga cartoons projected onto a huge back wall will be an instant hit, but then again people love that hell hole that is Cha Cha Moon, and for God's sake people still flock to Wagamamas. But me and Pan Asian, we are over. It was a brief flirtation and it just didn't work out.
3 - 5 Rathbone Place
London W1T 1HJ
Tel: 020 7323 0860
I didn't pay as I was invited to review but this would have been £20 / head.