East is East is a restaurant in Kitsilano that specializes in Afghani and Indian cuisine. They are known for their chai feast, which is essentially an all you can eat menu where you select, which items you want and they bring them out to you.
I recently came here with my friend Katherine for lunch. They have tons of meat, vegetarian and vegan options here, so there is something for everyone.
We both had a soy chai ($4) to start off the meal. I was so happy to see a soy version on the menu that I had to order it. It was very good. It had the perfect balance of fragrant spices.
This is what the chai feast platter ($21) looks like. Each person gets their own platter that comes with a salad, lentil soup, two entree choices, and a bowl of basmati and afghan rice, boulani, and naan. You can keep ordering as much as you want and you can ask to try other entrees too, so you aren’t stuck with just your first choice.
Normally avoid filling up on carbs at an all you can eat meal, but the Afghan rice and the boulani were both so good I couldn’t stop eating them. The rice was lightly sweet and filled with raisins, carrots, and spices. The boulani is more like a pastry than a bread and it reminded me a lot of Chinese green onion pancakes. Both of these are worth eating.
The Afghan eggplant is made with baked eggplant that is sautéed in herbs, tomato, garlic, and onions. We went with the vegan option (I think the non-vegan option has some sort of yogurt sauce). This dish wasn’t bad, but it was probably my least favourite of the day. Compared to the other dishes, I didn’t find it overly flavourful.
The Eastern ratatouille was made with eggplant, zucchini, potatoes, and garlic in a lentil plum sauce. I really liked this dish. I like dishes that are a big mix of everything, and that is exactly what this was. All of the veggies went well together and I loved the slightly sweet sauce.
I’ve had alu gobi before at Indian restaurants and it never excites me, but this version was really good. The potatoes and cauliflower were perfectly cooked. The sauce actually had some spice to it so I really liked it.
The whipped spinach dish (once again we got the vegan option sans paneer cheese) was my favourite dish of the meal. I don’t know how they made spinach taste so good, but I could eat this every day. It had really light and smooth texture and it just tasted amazing.
The mango butternut squash was another dish that I really liked. It is cooked with coconut milk, nutmeg, ginger, cinnamon, and curry leaves. The flavour was sweet and fruity from the mango and it had a creamy rich element to it. The spices they used all went really well with the squash and went well with the sweet flavour.
Lastly, we had the chana masala, which was a pretty typical chickpea dish with onions, tomatoes, herbs, and spices. This was a simple dish, but I am a bit obsessed with chickpeas, so I really liked it.
We both really liked East is East and I have no complaints about the food. They make vegan and vegetarian dishes really flavourful, satisfying, and comforting. I also loved being able to get little portions, so I could try everything.
Yes, for great food and a fun experience.