Monday, January 27, 2014

Dine Out Vancouver 2014 - East is East Chai Lounge

East Is East Chai Lounge on UrbanspoonUnlike many places, East is East will still offer their full regular menu in addition to their Dine Out Vancouver menu. In competition with their Dine Out Vancouver $28 menu will therefore be their regular all-you-can-eat Chai Feast for $27.

For dinner, the kitchen opens at 5.30pm, but even by 5pm there will be patrons and by 5.30pm the place will probably be full, if the Saturday evening our party was there is any indication.
Since the restaurant is already busy when the kitchen opens, you can expect your plates to come out somewhat slowly.
Dine Out Vancouver 2014 Menu ($28)

Appetizer

Mango Prawns - Tiger prawns sauteed in a spicy mango, lime leaf and star anise curry on basmati rice. (Gluten free) picture

or

Tibetan Mantu - Dumplings stuffed with green onions, chives and herbs topped with dehydrated yogurt and lentils. (vegan)

or

Boulani - Traditional Afghan whole wheat roti stuffed with potato, green onion, yam and herbs. (Gluten free option) (vegan)

Entree
Choice of TWO (2), served with token Persian salad (picture), rice with raisins (picture), small dhaal soup (picture), and a bit of garlic pickle (sample plate)

Lamb Kebab - Perfectly spiced and charbroiled chunks of lamb served with a savory yogurt and black cardamom curry, baby potatoes, yam and grilled kale. (Dairy) (gluten free) picture

or

South Indian fish curry - Seasonal fish in an exotic South Indian coconut curry. (Gluten free) picture

or

Afghan eggplant - Baked eggplant sauteed with herbs, sundried tomato, onion and garlic. (Gluten free) (vegan option)

or

Vegetable Kebab - fire grilled cauliflower, kale, baby potato, yam, squash in a creamy green cardamom, tomato curry. (Dairy)

or
Spinach Paneer - whipped spinach and paneer (Indian cheese) with mushrooms. (Gluten free) (vegan option)

or

Mango Butternut Squash - Butternut squash and mango cooked with coconut milk, ginger, nutmeg, cinnamon and curry leaves (vegan) not listed on Dine Out Vancouver website

Dessert

Khir - rice pudding with cardamom and pistachio. (Gluten free)

or

Chocolate pudding - Vegan chocolate pudding with organic sour cherries and fruit preserve. (Gluten free)

or

Gulab Jamun - traditional Indian cakes topped with pistachio and rosewater (picture)
If you want even more variety, you should consider their Chai Feast. Because of the quantity of rice in both their Chai Feast and their Dine Out Vancouver menu, you may very well end up eating about the same amount of food, unless you are a champion at eating and a terror at smorgasbords, in which case go with the Chai Feast.
I opted for the Dine Out menu, as well as to go vegan.

Boulani
  • Waste of time. There is only a thin smear of filling inside, which taste only weakly registers and is completely overpowered by any of the three sauces provided. You also get two pieces with the rice that accompanies your entrees anyway.
  • No one at our table tried the mantu so I can't say how that would go. If you are not vegan, go for the prawns instead.
Entree Accompaniments
  • There is a tiny bit of spicy-hot and really-quite-sour garlic pickle, in a small dish in the middle of your tray. (sample dine out vancouver tray) It didn't really go with anything I chose. You could take a little bit of it to start to really whet your appetite, though.
  • Rice is half plain white, half spiced-and-with-raisins. Comes with two wedges of boulani. (picture)
  • Dhaal soup has "three different kinds of lentils, cauliflower, spinach, herbs and spices". (picture) Just pour this into your rice.
Afghan Eggplant
  • Flavourful but otherwise nothing too special here.
Mango Butternut Squash
  • NOT listed on the Dine Out Vancouver website.
  • Highly recommended! Fruity and not-too-sweet.
Gulab Jamun
  • Two small pieces adding up to maybe a ping pong ball in volume.
Chocolate Pudding
  • A goodly amount, equal to a regular order (which comes in a funny steel martini glass).
  • Strong chocolatey flavour but being vegan, lacks any dairy, so whatever they substituted for cream had a grainy texture. That didn't detract too much from the experience, though.
Rangoon Rain Yoghurt Lassi - peach, lychee, pineapple, banana, coconut ($6.50 - large)
  • This would probably have been much better if the banana didn't overpower everything.
Service is excellent. While you are waiting, you can expect to be offered a shooter-sized cup of chai. Servers float around with a sort of mindful-calm, and are gently patient. Which is really quite a different and less-intrusive experience from servers who can sometimes be chatty and befriending.
They are also hot. In a girl-next-door-who-does-yoga-and-is-spiritual type of way. If you're lucky, your server will also have an alluring exotic name like "Shahana" or something despite looking thoroughly North American.

The interesting decor and ambiance alone are worth a look -- as soon as you step inside, you are transported to another country and culture.

Live entertainment from about 8pm onwards. Gratuity is automatically included for parties of 6+.

Gorgeous pictures are from Q's Quarter, who suggested this excellent restaurant for our Saturday outing.

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