Let’s get something straight right away here – if you are going to East is East for dinner, you will not be able to drink any alcohol. They are not licensed and do not serve anything with booze in it (although they have many different smoothies and chai teas that look like they would be delicious)! I was a little upset, as I was looking forward to having a drink with dinner, but I had to head out early and do an eat and run to another friend’s birthday dinner (yes, two in one night).
So when I walked up to the Kitsilano restaurant at first (there is another location on Main Street), I noticed a large group of people already clustered near the door, which was likely part of our group of approximately 24 people that night. It was going to be my first time meeting a lot of the other food bloggers in town, except for about four others that I had already met at Jackie Connelly‘s food photography workshop at Irashai a couple of weeks ago.
As we waited, we all got little samples of ginger chai in a small teacup the size of a shot glass. It was warm and delicious – it had quite a strong taste of ginger to it, which is something I love in practically anything!
A couple minutes later, we were escorted to the other side of the restaurant (there is a second entrance to the right of the first), and I noticed a whole other room that I didn’t know was there. It was filled with quite a few tables, and could probably fit about 40 people in the area, and had a washroom towards the back, plus space for their live entertainment seven days a week. This ranges from classical Indian to Persian to Flamenco and Gypsy music. The music this past Saturday evening was ‘authentic Gypsy,’ and there were four band members playing together by the latter part of the meal. The music added to the warm and lively atmosphere of the restaurant.
Once we sat down and did some introductions, I started to peruse the menu, and most of our table decided to share our food so we could try out more dishes. Other people continued to join our group over time, and we put in our orders shortly thereafter. The food came really quickly, so we were able to dig in. We started with a couple of appetizers (Angie, from Sea Salt with Food, Wilson from La Petite Vancouver, and myself).
The Tofu Dumplings, served in a yogurt with chickpeas and sprouts were quite good. The dumplings were a good size (small – like half the size of a standard perogie) and were quite refreshing!
Next came a full appetizer serving of Bhulani (our main also came with one piece of it), served with a chickpea dip. Unfortunately, I can’t find all of the ingredients that were served in this dish and don’t remember them all.
Midway through the meal, I decided that I wanted something to drink besides water, and our server recommended the Iced Lemon Ginger Chai. So I ordered one for myself, and thought it was quite tasty. It was a little on the sweeter side, so I could only drink one at a single sitting though.
Our main Eastern Plate showed up shortly afterward, and it consisted of a platter of two choices of mains served with Dhal soup, a Bhulani, a piece of roti, and Afghan and coconut rice. Note that on the menu, you can choose two of the ten or so dishes available, and that is what comes served with the rest of the dinner plate option.
Our two choices included the Saag Paneer (an Indian dish with spinach and a white cheese with mushrooms), as well as the Chicken Masala (served with a light masala sauce and herbs). I found the spinach to be a bit more runny in texture than others that I’ve had – it was almost as if it just hadn’t been mixed as well as it needed. It tasted like there were button mushrooms cooked with it, and for some reason I think I would’ve preferred it without them.
The chicken masala was quite light, as the menu had stated – I was actually expected it to be a bit more spicy with even more of a kick to it in terms of a variety of flavours. There were a tamarind sauce and chili sauce on the table though, that could be added to all of the dishes. I ate this with the rice on the side.
Even with all of this food, I found myself to still be a bit hungry after eating the meal, so when I moved on to the birthday dinner later on that night I did actually eat yet another dish. I did find that the food was quite good though, especially considering that the ingredients were so healthy as well. There were also quite a few vegan dishes on the menu. A bonus!
The restaurant itself was definitely very comfortable, and would be a great casual place to settle in with a group of friends to some chai and chit chat.
If you want to check out the sites of and review for East is East from other food bloggers that were there and not yet mentioned, here is the complete list (I hope!):
Jonathan (Food and Tell)
Jessica and Mark (Yum-O-Rama)
Sherman (Sherman’s Food Adventures) – thanks for organizing!
Kim (I’m Only Here for the Food!)
Joyce & Frank (Van Foodies)
TS (eating_club Vancouver)
Anita (La Petite Foodie)
Jennifer & Ricky (My Secret Eden)
Mijune (Follow Me Foodie)