Sunday, April 24, 2011

Chronic Tacos: A Tasty Taco Experience (despite a 5-0 Canucks loss)

Watching the Canucks is upsetting. Watching them lose a play-offs game is upsetting, depressing and can cause brief bouts of rage.

This week, I watched an extremely disappointing 5-0 loss against the Chicago Blackhawks in game 5 of their Round 1 Playoff series at Chronic Tacos on Broadway (at Yukon) and I gotta say, my pleasant experience with this casual and cheap eatery/bar took some sting out of the crushing defeat.

This is a fantastic place to watch the Canucks play.

*The Beer is cheap. Cans of Pilsner were 3.99.

*There are 9 giant flat screen TVs spread out all over the place and ample seating. Our group of 5 sat at;one of their many extremely comfortable and spacious booths. There is also a variety of tables available as well.

*Service here is friendly and easy going. There are servers that come by for drink orders but all food is ordered and paid for at the kitchen counter. Every Chronic Taco worker I spoke to that evening was laid-back, friendly, with a good sense of humour.

*The food is cheap and pretty tasty (although you can get cheaper and tastier tacos elsewhere...Dona Canta, but you can't watch the game there). The food tasted more Californian/Mexican than authentic Mexican and everything was really fresh . All the salsas and guacamole is made daily and the meats are all slow cooked and marinated overnight. The guacamole is awesome here. Unlike many other taco/burrito places in Vancouver - it’s free at Chronic - but you have to ask for it. The guy who made our food added guacamole with a bit of a flair by flicking a decent size dollop dramatically down on the dishes.

On the table:

I ordered a Fatty Taco- Grilled Mahi Mahi ($3.29)...

I couldn’t taste the fish at all. Mahi Mahi is like a more delicate softer Halibut and it doesn’t have a fishy taste.

Inside were 2 small strips grilled strips of fish. I got this "Baja style" with cabbage, lime, baja sauce which is like a savoury cilantro/chipotle mayo and guac.

The dressings and sauces were good. Unfortunately, I couldn't really taste the fish and wish there was more fish inside. All together- the flavours and sauces and textures blended together quite nicely and it was tasty.

Their fatty tacos are made with two corn tortillas which creates a sturdy, non-drippy taco eating experience. Flour tortillas are also available if you prefer, but you have to ask.

...And a Fatty Taco Al Pastor *spicy marinated pork with pineapple ($3.29).

Yum! The meat had a lot of savoury/smoky flavour and a little kick of spice. The pork was well marinated but tasted a little dry...but not enough to put me off. It was my favourite of the two tacos I ate.

Mis-ter sister had a Baja Style Fatty Grilled Mahi Mahi Taco (3.29). She loved the baja-style with cabbage (she had never had a fish taco before). She also enjoyed her Fatty Grilled Shrimp Taco(3.29) and noted that there were approx 4 small shrimp (which seemed a bit "shrimpy") but that the flavour of the 2nd was a bit stronger.

The Kiwi had a Pollo Asada (marinated grilled chicken) Burrito ($7.99).

 This Burrito was short, stubby, dense and jammed with fillings (white or spanish rice, black or re-fried or pinto beans, cheese, cilantro, onions, salsa). This hefty burrito weighed about a pound. He packed with the works and loved every bite. I tried a bit of the chicken filling- it was nice and savoury with some light citrus-y flavour. The kiwi was really impressed because towards the end of his burrito, all of the elements were still quite solid and not too juicy/greasy/drippy/messy to eat.

Dave got a Carne Asada (marinated grilled steak) Burrito ($7.99) done Chimi Style (deep fried).

This was one gorgeous monster of a burrito. Inside was a nice giant scoop of meat with pinto beans and rice. Essentially, with Chimi style- they load the burrito up with fillings (meat, rice, beans), deep fry until crispy, then load all of the pico, salsa, guac, and sour cream on top.He loved this dish but noted that the steak was more like ground beef rather than carne asada (steak). It was juicy and very flavourful, but Dave said the flavour wasn't really Mexican per se- but the addition of hot sauce seemed to improve the flavour.

The sous chef ordered a Fatty Taco grilled Mahi Mahi taco (without baja sauce) and a Fatty Taco Veggie with beans and rice. He thought these were pretty tasty and thought the tortillas were stand-out tasty.

Everyone at the table LOVED these hot sauces and added them liberally to every dish. The Gringo Bandito had a smoky, rich, full-bodied heat and the Cholula had more of a tomato-based savoury kick. Adding these definitely kicked the food up a couple of notches.

All in all, this was a comfortable, laid-back, reasonably priced place to watch the game and get some tasty grub. A hidden gem for Canucks fans!

Chronic Tacos on Urbanspoon

Sunday, April 17, 2011

New Food Carts in Vancouver

In early April, the City of Vancouver announced licences for 19 new food carts. I'm looking forward to all the new sights, smells and tastes on Vancouver's streets this summer. I'm definitely the most pumped about these new truck/carts on the block:

Feastro the Rolling Bistro (they have a super successful truck on the Sunshine Coast) and I can't wait to try options like...

Smoked Salmon Taco – crispy chickpea battered fresh halibut, tomato/anise chutney with organic greens, tikka masala yogurt, hand cut salsa. $7

Crab and Shrimp Cake – cayenne, coriander, sweet bell peppers, on Henry Reed organic greens, with truck made smoked tomato cocktail sauce. $13

Tacofino Cantina Inc.
This big orange truck located behind "Live to Surf" is something I look forward to to visiting every trip I take to Tofino. Now, their tasty tuna tacos are no longer a ferry plus 2.5 hour drive away.

Gringas are a taco/grilled cheese sandwich hybrid and should not be missed. Also, wait for Vancouver-ites to start freaking over their Diablo Chocolate Cookie Ice Cream Sandwich.

And for comfort food cravings (and a chance to chow down on my favourite childhood lunch) Mom's Grilled Cheese Sandwiches. This truck will be serving up basic (and fancy variations of) the grilled cheese sandwich with sides of tomato soup. This truck will be run by a vet of the film craft service industry who's worked on big projects like Kill Bill and Mission Impossible 3. I'm sure Uma was a grilled cheese fan.

******Here's a full list of the 19 new approved vendors, what they'll serve,  and where they'll be located:

* Cartel Street Food (Korean fusion - beef, pork and tofu Korean tacos), West side of 500 Dunsmuir Street.

* Chawalla ( India - Indian teas, sweet and savory parantha (stuffed Indian flatbread), East side of 800 Howe Street.

* Didi's Greek (Greek - meat and vegetarian souvlaki, tzatsiki and pita spanakopita, Greek salad), south side of 1700 Robson Street.

* Feastro the Rolling Bistro (Mixed menu -- seafood taco, prawns, fish and chips, oysters, pork taco, seafood chowder, salad, prawn bisque, yam/sweet potato fries), Thurlow at W. Cordova Street.

* Finest at Sea (Seafood - fish sandwiches, fish tacos, coleslaw, vegetable kebab), Southeast corner of Robson Street and Hornby Street.

* Gourmet Syndicate (Asian fusion - pork sliders, soba noodle soup, banh mi, rice balls, duck salad, trimmed chicken karaage, whole fruits), East side of 900 Burrard Street.

* Kiss Kiss Banh Banh (Vietnamese - sub sandwiches, salads and coffee), Northwest corner of Howe and Robson streets.

* Mangali ( Mediterranean - shish kebab, lafah, couscous, chickpea, beet, carrot and radish salads), North side of 900 W. Georgia Street.

* Mom's Grilled Cheese Truck ( American - grilled sandwiches, soups and chili), 600 Hornby Street.

* Off the Wagon (Mexican - tacos), 600 Howe Street.

* Osa Tako Hero (Japanese - Takoyaki), South side of 800 W. Pender Street.

* Roaming Dragon 2 (Comfort foods - sandwiches, matzo balls, shepherd's pie, soups, chili, fruit), East side of 800 Burrard Street.

* Soho Road Naan Kebab (Indian fusion - chicken tandoori burgers, beef kebabs, masala fries and chai tea), West side of 900 Howe Street.

* Tacofino Cantina Inc. (Mexican - tacos burritos, quesadillas, tortilla soup, fruit and vegetable skewers and assorted juices), 1800 Morton Street.

* Cart name TBA ( Greek - meat and vegetarian souvlaki), North side of 800 Dunsmuir Street.

* The Hut (Vegetarian - wrap veggie burgers, quesadillas, sweet potato fries and wraps), South side of 1200 Pacific Blvd.

* The Juice Truck (Juice - fresh fruit and vegetable juice and smoothies), 200 Abbott Street.

* The Re-Up BBQ (BBQ - beef brisket sandwich, black bean and corn chili, southern sweet tea, seasonal fruit soda), South side of 800 Robson Street.

* Trailer name TBA (Asian bbq - meat, fruit, vegetables), West side of 100 Burrard Street.

Also, if you love food truck culture and the food network- check out a new food network show that I recently did some work on: EAT ST.

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Eating my way through Pike Place

I love markets- the sights, the sounds, the people, the colours, but most importantly the food and its even better when there are samples. I took a quick weekend trip down to Washington for the sous chef's cousins wedding in Puyallup. While the Friday was all about rushing to the wedding and a yummy dessert reception with all sorts of cupcakes and chocolate- Saturday really turned into a day all about eating!. We started up at the Best Western continental breakfast (make your own waffle station with peanut butter, bannana and syrup) and then headed to Seattle for lunch. Rather than going to one place for a sit down restaurant lunch, we decided to do a "market crawl."
We started at the Pear Delicatessen and Shoppe, where Leah and Adam were chomping at the bit to get "the best chicken salad sandwich." This shop was awesome, a warm inviting deli counter with reasonably priced soups, sandwiches, and entrees and shelves stocked with all sorts of gourmet pastas, sauces, condiments, and oils. Definitely my kind of place.

I ordered an in-house made deli giant dill pickle (1.79) and this pickly was DYNAMITE. Fresh, crunchy, crispy with just enough bite.
Leah and Adam each got a Post Alley Favourite sandwich (around $6) chopped chicken breast, mayo, dried cranberries, salt and pepper, slivered almonds, lettuce and tomatoes on a crusty french baguette). They were generous enough to let me have a bit and it was really nice. The chicken was chopped breast (no canned junk here), the mayo was thick and creamy, but the star of the sandwich was definitely the slivered almonds mixed in. It definitely adds a slightly salty element and a different textural element. The sous chef and Leah and Adam also ordered some of their daily beet borsht soup (around $3-4). More of a stew, than a soup: the texture was super chunky and tasted amazingly fresh. It also had a slight spice to it and a nice vinegar flavour from chunks of pickled cabbage.
Leah stopped in at Cinnamon Works (tonnes of gluten free and vegan options) to grab a cookie. This wasn't just any cookie this was definitely a cookie designed for MOMMA. She picked the Wheat Free Monster Cookie ($3.75).
They list the ingredients in the bakery window and this behemoth is made up with oats, peanut butter, chocolate chips, butterscotch chips, walnuts, butter, eggs, granulated sugar, brown sugar, and baking soda. I love any kind of peanut butter/butterscotch/chocolate combo and this was pretty freaking amazing. Chewy, warm, and gooey- Leah was generous enough to share and I'm so thankful that she did.
Then we wandered through the bowels of the busy market and launched into a sample tasting frenzy. Flavoured almonds, blueberry balsamic and vinegar, pepper jellies, fresh jams, lavendar honey, pumpkin butter, basil infused olive oil, chocolate pasta, jerky, fudge, produce, alder smoked salmon, dried veggie chips, lemon curd....I was almost too full and too overwhelmed to actually buy lunch. ALMOST.
I finally decided to go with my gut and a little bit of food blog research and headed to the Market Grill to get either a bowl of "Seattle's Best Clam Chowder" or a blackened salmon sandwich. The Market Grill is a very tiny bar with about 13 seats directly across from one of the larger seafood stalls. I wandered up to the bar and asked the tattooed and pierced gal working the counter, which I should go for- the chowder or the sandwich. Without skipping a beat, she said  get both and punched up an order for a small chowder and half a Blackened Salmon sandwich with the works ($13.75). 
I eagerly watched the giant pot of thick chowder bubbling on the stovetop and the fresh fillets of salmon coated in blackening spices before they hit the grill. 
 The clam chowder was amazing, definitely warranted of the "Seattle's best chowder" award. Creamy, without being too thick and overwhelming, this chowder balances the potato, clam, herb flavours perfectly. There was a generous amount of clams throughout and not too much potato or other fillers. I added some fresh pepper and hot pepper sauce for extra kick and the results were phenemonal.
My sandwich was fishy, ooey, gooey goodness. It was good I only got half, because this sandwich was stuffed and quite large. The tightly grilled baguette was from Pike Place bakery Le Panier and it was soft and chewy- which compliemented the soft sandwich fillings.
Inside was a generous fillet of wild coho salmon, blackened with spices and grilled to perfection, with lettuce, tomato, grilled onions and oozing with an almost overwhelming amount (but it's sooooo good) tasty rosemary mayo.
The perfect end to a Pike Place Seattle food crawl!

Lovely Ladies Brunch at Cafe Medina

The BCIT ladies and I arrived for our brunch at Cafe Medina at 10am to a line up/waiting list crowd. It's to be expected. Cafe Medina has become a go-to for Vancouver-ites looking for a slightly upscale brunch experience. This wasn't my first visit to Cafe Medina. It is popular for a reason. Although some dishes are yummier than others, everything I've tried is delicious, and made with the best, fresh, quality ingredients. Everything is made in-house and their menu is creative and diverse with influences from all over the world. It's a varied crowd that visits Medina: a few families, couples (old and young), jocks, hipsters, yuppies, but everyone is well-dressed and nice to look at with a lot of great accessories.
Cafe Medina is located in Crosstown on Beatty (between Pender and Dunsmuir) and owned and operated by the successful team behind Chambar (delicious Belgian dinners) and the Dirty Apron Cooking School/Deli.
The wait was about 20 minutes but it was sunny- albeit pretty chilly, and the time passed quite quickly. We were welcomed inside and the five of us were seated in a small table near the front. CM doesn't take reservations for weekend breakfast/brunches and they aren't really set up for larger groups.
Cafe Medina has fantastic service. The host who takes your names for the waiting list is warm and congenial and is great about checking in with every group and when your name is finally called, he loved the fact that we actually cheered. Our server was prompt, efficient, quick to answer all sorts of questions and accomodate special requests (made sure that there was no kiwi in sheila's fruit salad.)
This place is busy, and they need to move people through quite quickly- but they do a fantastic job of never making you feel rushed.
On the table:
Lavendar Latte 16oz ($4.40)
This is one of their most popular drinks and definitely beloved by two ladies in our group. Jill loves them so much she got one to-go too!
I had a sip- it's creamy, smooth, with a lovely lavendar scent. I couldn't really taste too much lavendar but it tasted awesome- just a hint of sweetness.

Loose Leaf Tea (16 oz$ 2.75)
I just love the presentation and that they serve this in a stainless steel bodum press teapot. It makes it feel special and posh.

I ordered the Saumon Fume ($12) Open faced ciabatta sandwich. Fried egg, smoked salmon, caper cream cheese, sliced avocado, arugula, peppadew and artichoke salad.
I was trying to decide between the delicious-sounding savoury tangine and this dish, so I asked the server her opinion and she steered me towards this for a delicious light dish. It was awesome- a texture and flavour experience.
From the runny egg yolk blending with the creamy avocado and the savoury salty caper salmon cream cheese, to the fresh, peppery arugula and the salty artichokes, to the fresh cherry red peppadews and finely diced red onion adding bursts of fresh flavour in every bite. The salmon is roughly pureed right into the cream cheese and it was actually even better than having the whole slices. The capers are larger ones and they’re mixed in whole so you get nice salty bites. The potion looks small but is actually the perfect size to leave you satisfied but not stuffed.

Bianca ordered La Sante ($12) A soft boiled egg, vine ripened tomato, olive tapenade, avocado, prosciutto, extra virgin olive oil, grilled ciabatta.
Much like my dish, Binca remarked that it didn't look like a lot of food when they brought it out but she didn't quite finish and she was full but not busting a gut. Also, much like my dish, there were a lot of different flavours and textures going on. With the way this dish was plated, you could either mix the individual elements together or eat each seperately. I had a bite of the olive tapenade and tomato and found it salty, savoury and delicious. This looked like a "spa" breakfast.

Tacia got L'Omlette de Matin ($12) with daily seasonal ingredients.
Served in a cast iron skillet, like many of their dishes, I didn't hear all of the ingredients but there was definitely fennel, onions, artisan cheese in there. I didn't try any but Tacia wasn't entirely thrilled with the different flavours and elements in the omelette.

Sheila got the Granola, Fruit, and Yoghurt ($9).
Again, a shout out to our server for looking into and then making sure that there was no kiwi in Shizzle's breakfast. She enjoyed her breakfast and didn't have too much to say other than that the youhurt/granola ratio was a bit off for her taste- she likes a bit less yoghurt to her granola.

Jill ordered Cafe Medina's famous waffles ($3.15/per waffle and $1per topping.)
They are soft and chewy, with the slightest crisp on their exterior. They have a slightly eggy flavour and are served with a dusting of icing sugar and the topping/dipping sauce of your choice. These waffles are made daily and heated/toasted to order and size-wise each waffle is about the size of the palm of your hand. Jill got hers as a meal with raspberry caramel topping. Bianca ordered one on the side with milk chocolate lavendar. I had a little taste of both toppings and the milk chocolate lavendar really knocked my socks off. Soooo rich, smooth, and delicious. I had to restrain myself from licking the tiny little bowl.

If haven't been to Cafe Medina yet- you should go. It's a lovely brunch experience and you won't be disappointed.  Next time, I'm planning on going closer to lunch time and getting their highly hyped Fricasse which most people rank as the top dish- Fricassé a $16 hearty skillet with fried eggs, braised short ribs, roasted potatoes, caramelized onions, arugula, applewood cheddar with grilled foccacia.
Cafe Medina on Urbanspoon

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

London pub, lacklustre food

The London Pub is on the edge of Chinatown on the corner of Main and Georgia is the London Pub.

It's a very cool space that mixes old and new. It's a heritage building with exposed brick arches, floor to ceiling windows, with lots of large flatscreens playing various sports games, modern juke boxes, a pin ball machine, pool table, and old school dart board set up.

They have an awesome array of beers- a wide variety of local micro breweries (yay Russell Wee Angry Scotch Ale and Howe Sound Father John's Winter Ale) and imports on tap and in bottles. It definitely would be a great place to watch a Canucks game or any type of sporting event. Our server was great- she was on top of refills and noone had an empty glass for long.

But when it comes to food....I gotta say, this pub is definitely not a gastro pub. I visited recently for a friend's birthday, most of us ordered dinner, and unfortunately, most of us were disppointed.
I ordered the daily special soup and sandwich ($10) A grilled ham, cheese and tomato sandwich with Morrocan tomato soup.
The sandwich was ghetto. The bread was not artisan- it was your standard packaged whole wheat loaf from safeway. The cheese was processed and not even really melted for a grilled sandwich. The soup was a little cold but had a nice flavour, although I didn't taste any "moroccan" or middle-eastern flavour in it. It tasted more like a fresh, chunky pasta sauce.

Poutine ($10)
I can't comment on this because I didn't try it or ask too many questions but it looked pretty standar but also, pretty good.
Vegetarian Quesadilla ($9)
This looked lame- it was really tiny and extremely thin- the plate was really "white"- white tortilla with a big glob of sour cream.

On the inside- the cheese and toppings were really chintzy. The diner who ordered this was super disappointed. Look at those tiny pepper chunks.

Bangers and Mash ($13.5) This looked pretty darn good. I tasted the gravy which had a lovely tomato flavour...not traditional, but nice. This was the birthday girl's order and she said it was just okay. She and another friend made bangers and mash at home recently, and she said their homemade version was way better.

Wild BBQ Salmon Salad ($13.5) Someone ordered this and I overheard him say the salmon was quite dry.

11" Pepperoni Pizza ($11.50) This was also on the table....and the review was "pretty good, just okay"

Beef Dip ($12.50) The diner who got this was a happy camper. She remarked that "it's hard to screw up beef dip"- but with further probing, she told me the au jus was awesome and that the ciabatta bun was really nice too.

Vegetarian Meatloaf Sandwich ($11) I almost ordered this and I wish I did because it looked good and the diner who ordered this gave it the only enthusiastic thumbs up at the table. It was essentially soy ground round formed into a loaf, with garlic mayo, crispy onions on top, and served on a toasted kaiser.
All-in-all the food here got lukewarm reviews- the soup/sandwich and veg quesadilla being the biggest disappointments. The birthday girl said it best "I can make it way better at home."

London Pub on Urbanspoon

Monday, April 4, 2011

You'll never look at Kale the same way again

This is my go-to snack for any kind of ladies movie/tv-watching/gabbing/gossiping nights. Most gals show up with cookies, chocolate, chips, pretzels, and I show up with a bundle of green, leafy kale, a bottle of olive oil, and my trusty sea salt. Many scoff at first, some are intrigued, but unless they’ve tasted kale chips before, most people wonder what the hell I’m up to. Without exception, everyone I’ve made this for has enjoyed this healthy alternative to potato or tortilla chips.

For a recent movie night-in with my friend Heather, she actually requested that we have kale chips for dinner since she had never tried them before. This is a super cheap and easy recipe and a pleasure to share.

What you need:

*A bunch of kale (or two….these are addictive and trust me if you are feeding a group you’ll want to do up two or three bunches)

*Olive oil (approx 1-2 tbsp per bunch)

*Sea Salt (approx 1 tbsp per bunch)

What to do:

Preheat the oven to 350°

Rip the green leaves into bite size pieces and remove them from their tough spine (I cut them like so using a clean pair of scissors) Rinse the kale leaves, give em’ a spin in a salad spinner, then pat try with a clean dish towel. Those leaves should be bone dry!

Put the kale leaves in a large bowl. Drizzle the oil and then mix ensuring the kale is all lightly coated. Use a spoon. Use your hands. Use a bit more oil. Use your judgment.

Douse with sea salt and mix again.

Arrange the kale chips onto the sheet try and slide it into the oven. Bake until the leaves are crisp to the touch but still a dark green. (When they turn brown, they turn bitter.)

Check at the 12-minute mark, and then check often- you want a nice level of crispiness but don’t worry: slightly soggy pieces still taste good too.

These kale chips have a strange, mesmerizing texture and are addictive like potato chips. It’s the grease of the olive oil, the crisp of the chip, and the slick of salt on the tongue. You can’t eat just one piece.

Make this for a snack or as a side dish. Here’s my cheeky take on fish and chips: a salmon burger patty with bean sprouts and kale chips.

Saturday, April 2, 2011

East is East: Rockin' the Casbah with Silk Route Feasts

I planned a date night for the sous chef and I for a Sunday night at East is East. I've ordered take out from East is East on Main street for crew meals quite a few time and always really enjoyed the food and their Eastern Plate meal concept, but I've never dined in their cozy, long narrow-cavern like restaurant before. I chose EIE for our date destination because I knew there were lots of tasty vegan options for the sous chef, and I heard they had live music most evenings. We showed up around 7pm and the restaurant was full with a few people waiting.
The manager is a young woman who does a great job at managing a waiting crowd, checking in with people, confirming that names are on the waiting list and giving approx wait times, and doling out samples of their delicious chai tea (served piping-hot, spicy, full of ginger, with cardamom, and cinnamon notes) and bites of boulani (traditional afghan whole wheat roti stuffed with potato, green onion and herb). The 15-20 min wait went by pretty quickly and then we were seated. The tables are low, wooden, with benches and stools, walls are covered in eastern-style carpets, and the lights are low with candles on every table. This place definitely has atmosphere.

The menu has a variety of starters and roti rolls- but since I've eaten EIE before- I went straight to their Silk Route Feast ($19) and suggested BJ do the same. This meal has a little of everything and all of the items are re-fillable, so it's kind of all you can eat without broadcasting it- it's a great way to get a taste of almost everything. The Silk Route Feast comes with dhal soup, salad, boulani, roti, coconut and afghan rice and two of their middle-eastern curry/stews.
This is your feast. Pretty impressive looking....but how did everything taste?
Dahl is a soup with lentil, finely chopped cauliflower, spinach, and herbs. It's thick and pretty tasty, but kind of mild for my liking.
I love the salad: baby greens, celery, spinach, carrots, green pepper, cucumber, loaded with awesome chopped beets and a light vinagrette. All of the flavours pop in this super light salad which serves as a nice contrast to most of the other elements on the plate which are heavy.
The roti is just okay, it's basically a whole wheat tortilla.
The boulani is a step up in flavour and texture since its stuffed, but I thought both were good vehicles for the delicious sauces- chutney, hot sauce, mango pickle, and herbed yogurt.
The afghan rice was good- the raisins and shredded carrot added some nice texture. I couldn't taste any coconut in the coconut rice, it tasted like regular basmati to me. The sous chef and I were able to get through quite a few of their curry/stews.
Minced Beef Kebab: Minced organic beef with mushroom, tomato, green pepper and herbs. This was kind of Italian meatballs with tomatoe sauce. The beef was nice but the sauce could've had a bit more spice or curry flavour to it. I also love mushrooms and I didn't get any in this dish.
Afghan Eggplant: Baked eggplant sautéed with herbs, onions, garlic and sundried tomatoes.
This is the best of their mains! The eggplants were sautéed, tender, and stringy – didn’t seem baked and practically melted in your mouth with subtle spices. It comes topped with raita which is basically yogurt- giving it more body and thickening up the dish.
Mango Butternut Squash: Butternut squash and mango cooked with coconut, milk, ginger, nutmeg, cinammon, and curry leaves. For me, this was too sweet and the consistency was too pureed, a bit like baby food.
Thai Tofu: Tofu, red peppers, lime leaves, and ginger in a sweet and sour mango green curry. This is a very westernized Thai dish. Again, it was okay but not particularly flavourful and too sweet for my liking. 
Alu Gobi: Cauliflower and potato in a tangy tomato coconut sauce. This is another favourite- tender vegetable in a butter chicken-esque sauce. 
Saag Paneer: Whipped spinach and paneer (Indian cheese) with mushrooms. This dish was a miss and really bland. Also, I didn't get any mushrooms in this dish ( i think they may have been out that night).
Chickpeas: Chick peas, onions, tomato, herbs & spices. A take on the classic dish, Channa Masala. Creamy and a very mild spice level. I wish it had more flavour.
All in all, there were some hits and misses with the mains (most of the dishes are super westernized and the flavours are a bit safe to please a wide audience- I wish there was more SPICE!) but overall we were really happy with our feasts, attentive service, and overall experience (especially when the 6 piece gypsy folk jazz rock ensemble started playing world music and covers around 8pm.) This is an awesome place for a date or to take an out of town visitor.
East Is East on Urbanspoon