A good friend told us about East, the Pan Asian restaurant tucked away in a busy corner near Gowalia Tank in South Bombay. As we know, there are limited opportunities to try Malaysian, Vietnamese and Sichuan-style Chinese food in Bombay. We’d heard that East’s chef, Nachiket Shetye, had studied at the C.I.A. and worked at Nobu, and that he aimed to make more than the ubiquitous Indo-Chinese and Thai fare for Bombayites craving Asian food.
We sipped on two excellent cocktails, a spicy bloody mary and a lychee martini, while admiring East’s subdued bamboo decor and ordered their signature Roti Canai, which came with a dipping bowl of zesty, flowery Malaysian curry. This was no ordinary dinner roti but a layered, flaky roti, yielding and stretchy, the croissant of all rotis I’ve ever eaten. We then enjoyed making inexpert tacos with the smoky, plum sauce moo-shoo vegetables in their soft rice paper wrappers and dipping them into the fiery chili sauce on the table. The spice-loaded Burmese curry Khow Seuy had a gleeful assortment of toppings; we made little mountains of scallions, peanuts, fried garlic and onion on our bowls and slurped till we were stuffed.
Not all the food is so engaging, however. The steamed Shanghai wontons were a glazed, limp mess, the wontons so soft they collapsed into the mash of flavorless cabbage filling spilling out. The Sichuan Broccoli was tolerable when mixed with a curry, but alone, it was simply broccoli doused in an overload of chili sauce and red chili flakes. The Malaysian noodles were boring and the Penang curry, though loaded with coconut milk and vegetables, was flat. Last night for dinner we ordered Black Bean Vegetables, pan-fried Japanese Gyoza dumplings, Crispy Eggplant in Hot Bean Sauce, and Chili-Garlic noodles. All of them, unfortunately, were resoundingly awful.
East has been around for a couple years now, though when we went, on a Sunday evening, it was more or less empty. We’ve heard of similar empty sightings from our friends but despite the lengthy list of mishits, we plan to go again, to try the Vietnamese Eggplant Fritters and the Indonesian Curry. East certainly needs to fix many dishes, but at least they’re attempting to introduce Bombayites to more than just the standards. Now, if only they would add pho to their menu.
Roti Canai: Rs. 160; Shanghai Wontons: Rs. 160; Moo Shoo Veg: Rs. 240; Khow Suey: Rs. 250
76 Nidhi, August Kranti Road, off Kemps Corner. 022-2381 1010.