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East is banging

- 16th February 2021 - 

By Vanessa Bennett


A fresh new restaurant is in town. East boasts a delicious full vegetarian menu and let me tell you the Bang Bang mushrooms are banging! I have never been so impressed with a vegetarian menu.

The cuisine has incredible flavours and the jack fruit tasted just like meat – now I know that sounds strange, but it must be tried to be believed. We managed to get our way through most of the menu and each dish wow’d us more than the last. The crispy tofu was a rock star dish, the dan dan noodles had a sense of warmth and homeliness and the cream caramel melted our hearts.

East’s menu is a concise edit of inventive dishes all designed to share: Peking jackfruit pancakes, tapioca chips and plum sauce; caramelised black pepper tofu, shallots, garlic and gai laan; East gado gado, long bean, chioggia beetroot, spinach, tempeh and soft egg; and Typhoon shelter fried rice with corn, asparagus and burnt garlic.

The East team of chefs, who represent culinary traditions from Japan, Hong Kong, China, Thailand, India and Sri Lanka, is led by Harmeet Singh. The head chef is looking forward to showcasing the skills he developed as head chef at Bamboo, one of Mumbai, India’s leading Asian restaurants.

“I’m excited to not only be cooking regional Asian flavours, but to be applying them to plant-focussed, vegetarian and vegan cooking. We have been experimenting, developing, and embracing techniques, including fermentation. We’ve created our own sauces, including prik nam pla, nahm jim, chili oil and a vegan ‘XO’ sauce (featuring shitake mushrooms and using a special process to achieve texture and flavour) inhouse. The result is a menu that has depth without relying on meat and that celebrates the piquant, sour, sweet and umami of the Asian flavour profile,” says Singh.

Seventy five % of the dishes on offer are vegan and 70 % are gluten free. The modern-Asian eatery is also one of few restaurants in New Zealand to have an extensive, 100 % organic and vegan wine list, featuring New Zealand and Italian vintages. The cocktail menu offers a bespoke range of pan-Asian drinks, including an Omo Sake — jasmine-infused tengumai junmai sake, campari, sweet vermouth, tea pearl; a Shochu Sesame Sour — Hombo shuzo shochu, lemon juice, honey syrup, sesame, grapefruit and hops bitters.

Situated on Nelson street, East is a bit out of the main dining areas, but it is well worth jumping in an uber (as there is not much parking, but this allows for an extra cocktail) and trying this new restaurant.