East is East
3243 West Broadway
4413 Main Street
Tastiness factor: 4.5/5
Locavore approved? Probably not (although never specifically asked about ingredient origin, their menu stays all year round so not a seasonal focus)
Tonight, after a busy night on call last night, with another day and night on call looming over the horizon tomorrow, I was looking for a Saturday night dinner option fitting two major criteria: 1) no tasty, comforting food 2) relaxed atmosphere (no way was I changing out of my Lululemon!). East is East fits both of these criteria perfectly.
Tonight was my third visit to East is East, one of Vancouver's hidden gems. They serve unique middle eastern dishes (largely Afghani) in a casual setting with middle eastern decor. And let me tell you- the cooks in this kitchen really know their stuff when it comes to spcies. Each dish tastes very unique and the spice combinations make your tastebuds tingle. Tonight, my husband and I got their most popular offering, the Silk Route Feast. This is a great way to sample much of what East is East has to offer. It includes roti, two types of rice (white and a brown rice with spices and raisins - yum!!!), a delectable lentil soup, a nice little organic salad and boulani which is roti stuffed with a green onion and potato mixture and served with a yogurt dipping sauce (so tasty!). And these are only the accompaniments! You then get to choose two hot dishes from their menu, which includes about half vegetarian options (tofu, eggplant, paneer, califlower) and half non-vegetarian (lamb, beef, chicken and one fish option). And you really cannot go wrong with any of them! Between all of our visits, my husband (the meat eater) and myself (the pescatarian) have tried almost all of the dishes and they are all delicious, largely owing to the chef's mastery of spices. My husband's favorite is the chicken (the lamb is a bit too fatty for his liking and my favorite is the Afghan eggplant. I must also send out some very high praise for their chai tea- they make one with almond milk that is like nothing I have ever tasted before. How they manage to pack such a complex and comforting spice profile into one cup, I will never know. They will offer you little sample cups if you ask but I highly recommend buying a whole cup and eating it up with breakfast the next morning. Their is no better way to start your day!And if the food is not enough to keep you coming back (which I am sure it will!), they have live entertainment on the weekends that is a great compliment to the middle eastern theme. Service is always very friendly- you feel as if you are guests invited over to a good friend's for dinner. Smiles abound (and often free samples as you are waiting too!).
I am a bit fan of East is East. If you are a new-comer to middle eastern food , no need to fear! You will be won over in an instance by the skilled hands of these chefs.
And the good news- I still have my chai waiting for me in the fridge for tomorrow morning!!!