Friday, June 06, 2014

East "Old Town" Chinese


East is advertised as "authentic, modern Chinese with a Malaysian twist". While there are some Chinese dishes and some Malaysian dishes, I would say the flavours definitely lean towards Malaysian. The decor is also surprisingly nice for a Chinese restaurant, but I would've expected as much from the same restaurant group that brought us Lazia and Wildflower Grill. Though I did notice several of the staff conversing with customers and amongst themselves in fluent Cantonese.


I knew there was a "secret menu" based on East's advertisements in the Chinese newspaper. This menu (written in Chinese only) was not readily available, but was provided upon request. The deal offered a special combination meal for two, three or four dishes at $38, $58, and $78 respectively. Customers could pick from a list of 29 dishes, and all meals would include the daily soup, roti canai, rice, dessert, and Chinese tea or ginger tea. I opted for a pot of hot ginger tea. It was sweet, but had a spicy kick that gradually built up. I opened the lid to find a chunk of fresh ginger inside the teapot — a welcome change from ginger powder or extract.


The first dish was the Malaysian roti canai (馬拉飛餅), served as a starter with a side of curry sauce. The texture of the roti canai was very flaky with a slightly crispy exterior. It reminded me a bit of puff pastry. Personally I would've preferred softer and fluffier layers.


The soup was super flavourful, and one can seriously get hooked on this stuff. The richness was reminiscent of a hearty meat broth, but the consistency wasn't too thick or heavy. However, there was definitely a lot of MSG in this bowl. I was thirsty for the whole night. Out of curiosity, I asked a waitress about the ingredients. She had no idea and offered to ask the kitchen for me, but she never got back to me. Points to another staff member for warning us about the sharp ladle handle though.


The star of the show was the butter prawns (雙味奶油蝦). The batter was thin and light, and there was just a touch of creamy sauce to complement the crispiness.


The poached chicken (清遠真味雞) looked tasty, but it was actually quite mild in flavour compared to the other dishes.


We also picked a vegetarian dish with the oddest name — "melon of plenty wok vegetables" (佛海蒲團圓). And no, it's not a direct translation of the Chinese name, which has something to do with a Buddhist cushion made of grass. Anyway, the dish was simply a vegetable stir-fry with a fancy name.


The rice was the normal white kind, not coconut rice or jasmine rice.


The meal concluded with a signature Malaysian/Indonesian/Thai dessert — a hot bowl of black sticky rice with a dash of coconut milk. This bowl even had an extra topping of tapioca. I appreciated the fact that it wasn't too sweet.


All in all, it was a good meal and the special combination deal was excellent value. Since this visit was quite a while ago, I'm not sure whether East is still offering this promotion. And even if they were, it would probably be quite a challenge for those who can't read Chinese to request and order from the "secret" Chinese-only menu.

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