The Eastern is a Pan-Asian Restaurant in a suburb of Birmingham, tucked away up some stairs above a shopping centre. They say location is key and this location is not the most salubrious, and in general I am wary of ‘Pan – anything’ cuisine. To say I had doubts was probably a bit of an understatement! Yet, on a recommendation from a trusty source who has yet to give a bad bit of foodie advice and a quest to continue to find great Thai and Chinese food, we went along one Friday evening. And I’m vey glad we did.
The restaurant is bright and airy and the welcome friendly and polite. So far so good.
The Cuisine is mainly Chinese, Thai and Malaysian, but there is also a few Japanese style dishes thrown in too. The menu is quite large, but for a place combining four cuisines the amount of dishes could have been endless, so I think they’ve struck a good balance with the amount available.
I’m a bit Thai/Malay food fan, so these are the things that stood out to me. I went for the Som Tum which is a green papaya salad. I love this dish as the flavours are so fresh and adore the spicy tamarind and chilli dressing. The addition of pomegranate (which I don’t think is traditional in a Som Tum) was great as it added extra crunch and sweetness, a welcome addition to counteract the spicy dressing. A really good dish. Lee went on more of a chinese theme for his meal, and started with Wonton Soup. He said the pork dumplings and chinese leaves in this were delicious, although he felt there could have been a little more depth of flavour to the broth itself, when having mouthfuls on its own it lacked a little, but was still a good dish overall.
For mains I had the Malaysian Chicken Sambal, with a fiery chilli, shallot and garlic sauce . The flavour of this was great, a perfect level of spiciness for me. I had it with some Jasmine Rice which was lovely and fragrant. Lee’s main, the Hoisin Honey Aroma Pork was undoubtedly the best of the night. It was sticky and sweet with tender meat and I couldn’t help myself from keeping stealing bits of it off Lee’s plate.
So, in a nutshell. Sometimes you have to ignore stereotypes and your preconceptions and often you will find it results in a really great meal!