Like the Hanoi street markets it aims to emulate, any visit to East Street, London’s Pan Asian answer to fast food cuisine, is an assault on the senses.
The minute you pass over the threshold just off Oxford Street you are hit by an implosion of colour, sounds, smells and flavours. Despite this it still seems like an escape from London’s busiest shopping hub; an oasis of cool design and tasty dishes amid the harassed crowds that throng the pavements just outside.
The funky décor is a key aspect of this frenetic-yet-friendly ambiance and also the best part of the restaurant itself. Backlit stall signs from across South East Asia adorn the ceiling alongside low-hanging retro lamps and the back wall is dominated by a projected cartoon sequence. In true street market style, brightly coloured plastic stools line the tables and an array of foreign notes and phone cards pinned to the walls help to create a distinct backpacker vibe.
East Street offers up speciality dishes from eight different Asian countries (Thailand, Vietnam, Malaysia, Singapore, Indonesia, Philippines, Japan and Korea) and at first glance the menu is slightly chaotic. Vietnamese Pho (noodle soup) battles for attention next to Nasi Goreng (a classic Indonesian fried rice dish) and red coconut curry from Thailand. It’s ambitious but somehow it works, with the place mat maps a nice touch for locating the plethora of tastes and flavours on show.
Malaysian king prawns with lime sauce arrived promptly with a suitably satisfying tang, followed Indonesian Tahu Goreng – wok-fried tofu with mushrooms in lime sauce – and Chicken Adobo from the Philippines, with peppercorns and sweet potato slices. There’s something here to please every taste, from cravers of spicy food to seafood-lovers and vegetarians. Those who have travelled to Asia will revel in the nostalgia of the drinks list, comprising hard-to-come-by delights such as Beer Lao and Sangsom whisky and coke, a potent cocktail that will transport you straight back to full moon parties off Koh Phangan.
East Street has been around for nearly six months now and is from the people behind Manchester-based restaurant chain Tampopo. Doubters have questioned the authenticity of such a wide-ranging cuisine and although the food might not be an exact replica of what you would find in the back alleys of Manila or Tokyo, it certainly does come quick and tasty. Service is also friendly and super-efficient, making it a sure-fire bet for anyone who fancies a fun bite to eat at very reasonable prices in the heart of London’s West End.
East Street, 3-5 Rathbone Place, London W1T 1HJ
020 7323 0860