FUSING elements of Eastern cuisine with Western techniques is definitely a trend these days, but only a few eateries have excelled at the fusion concept. East is one of them.
Long-time Shanghai restaurateur Stefan Stiller and his wife Yoshi teamed up to open a homey, chic eatery amidst the touristy shops in Tianzifang.
Stefan is a well-known figure in the local culinary world (he ran Stiller’s in the Cool Docks), and has teamed up with Yoshi, originally from South Korea. Years ago, the couple ran a restaurant in Germany that received a Michelin star.
Initially, the couple wanted to open an Asian-inspired restaurant with a focus on Gua Bao. After finding the right location in Tianzifang they decided to develop a larger restaurant with casual grab-and-go offerings on the first floor and a North Asian restaurant on the second floor.
At lunchtime, the sleek first floor is filled with people having Baos with different fillings, and delicious ramen perfect for this harsh weather. During the evenings, guests flock to the second floor to experience dishes inspired by the cuisine of Korea, Japan and China.
The style of cooking and presentation is non-traditional, and most preparations are modern interpretations with traditional flavors and background.
“There are certainly many Asian themed restaurants in Shanghai but we believe the type and style of food we are offering was not available yet,” said Stiller. For the Japanese dishes, we have a good friend supporting us who is an expert in modern and traditional Japanese cuisine.” The second-floor eatery is welcoming and intimate, featuring a blue color scheme. It is an ideal place to hang out with friends or family during the evenings or over a y weekend.
Light marinated king fish (95 yuan) was fresh, and well paired with a mixture of avocado, tomato jelly and watermelon. Ginger beef tataki with lime soy dressing and wild rice salad (105 yuan) was creative and flavorsome. The wild rice gave a different texture when pairing with the extremely tender beef tataki.
Salad with “Cloud-Ear” mushrooms, radish and cucumber (38 yuan) is healthy and light. House-made pickles (28 yuan) is a must order. The small dish is so popular that many guests have asked the owner to sell the pickles in the jar.
Every cold dish I ordered was well executed, flavorsome and innovative. East also takes just as much pride in what goes on its “Hot Dishes” section. Some of the dishes are slow cooked so that the meat is moist and tender.
Korean “Bo Ssam” (258 yuan) was a pure delight. Each guest is asked to take one lettuce leaf and assemble the ssam by wrapping a slice of grilled pork shoulder, kimchi, ssam sauce and an oyster. Essentially, it’s a Korean version of surf and turf and the highlight of the menu.
Korean food lovers should also not miss Korean style roasted Rice Cakes with “Red Dragon Sauce” (48 yuan), a real comfort food in the cold season.
East uses high quality ingredients: meats and seafood are mostly imported; vegetables and herbs are from reliable local sources; the seasonings and spices are also imported from Korea or Japan.