By Rose Chinery
Savour the culinary delights of a few far-flung parts of the Orient at East, one of ’s new restaLindenurants.
Physical Address: 71 7th Street, just off 3rd Avenue, Linden.
Call 011-782-3567. Open for lunch and dinner from 11.30am Monday to Saturday.
The decor at East is simple and attractive. Bright and white paint, tablecloths and napkins are enlivened by cheerful splashes of scarlet. These include a quirky cherry blossom tree decal on one wall with flowers gently floating down to the floor and a red-painted fireplace that promises cosy winter dining. The cool outside deck sports white paper lanterns, while three quirky metal cut-out birds in wire cages dance in the breeze. A lucky ‘beckoning cat’ welcomes diners… “Our only piece of kitsch,” laugh the owners.
ON THE MENU
Janine uses authentic recipes from all over the Far East but tweaks them for South African palates. To ensure freshness, the menu is short, with four starters, two salads, seven mains and five desserts. The starter prawn and coriander toasts with Indonesian dipping sauce are “have-a-second-helping” good, while the Taiwanese prawn, papaya and peanut salad at R65 is tasty and excellent value. With prawns, slices of papaya, slivers of water chestnut, julienned cucumber and wafers of carrot on a bed of lettuce, topped with crunchy peanuts and creamy peanut sauce, it’s totally moreish. The rest of the mains offer an eclectic choice of Japanese teriyaki chicken burgers, sesame-crusted tuna and katsudon (deep-fried pork cutlets), Cambodian cured beef salad, Szechuan peppered beef and Chinese hoisin duck.Desserts include baked passion fruit brûlée, chocolate and banana spring rolls, deep-fried ice cream and various fruit sorbets. (Starters: R18,50 – R45; salads: R65 – R67; mains: R60 – R87; desserts: R12 – R34.)
South African sisters Janine Takagaito and Michelle Muller are the owners of East. Chef Janine spent two years in Japan where she “discovered the delights of food”. While there, she embarked on a series of courses run by cooks from various Far Eastern countries – Thailand, Cambodia, Indonesia, Taiwan, Vietnam and, of course, Japan. On returning to South Africa with her Japanese husband, Janine persuaded Michelle to join her in launching East.
Word has spread about a ‘taste of home’ and teachers from the nearby Japanese school have given East an approving nod. East’s extensive list of soft drinks includes flavoured aloe juices. Diners can sip port by the glass and indulge in various Asian beers, as well as exotic aperitifs like Soju, a Korean liquor served with Appletiser and ice; sake served warm or cold (Janine recommends warm); or Umeshu, a Japanese plum liqueur served over ice.