HuTong Group welcome East Restaurant and Bar
The thought of pjs and a ‘Netflix and chill’ night in the company of Chinese take-away sounded really appealing. But instead we ventured out to try EAST Restaurant & Bar in Melbourne’s CBD, the latest restaurant from the HuTong Group.
Stepping inside EAST, nestled next to the Sheraton Hotel on Little Collins Street, you can’t miss the Hecker Guthrie architectural masterpiece that forms this bar. Gaze upwards and you’re transported to the Chinese lantern festival with lights popping against the teal tiled walls.
We parked on a six-seater bench, the perfect platform for the numerous tapas style dishes we were about to share. Having opened eighteen months ago, EAST recently launched their new winter menu. Head chef Gang Qian (Ben), pays homage to Chinese cuisine but with a modern flare.
Start your evening with a cocktail. We particularly enjoyed the lychee martini, however the entire cocktail menu is inventive. One sip and you’ll be trying to guess all the ingredients (without cheating and looking at the menu). The cocktails range from the lighter like “The Red Ginger” to the stronger “The Great East” (hint – this one has chilli in it). If cocktails aren’t your thing, there are a range of imported and Australian beers, as well as a generous wine list. For a traditional drink option, you can’t go past some premium Chinese tea. Try the Chrysanthemum tea for something delicate and floral or the Tai Hu Green Bamboo tea for an energy boost after your meal.
With an abundant menu the biggest dilemma of your night will surely be what to order. We suggest starting with the signature Xiao Long Bao. These are as good as HuTong Dumpling Bar, sans the queues, which means more time for eating. Winner winner, Chinese dinner!
The signature wontons with spicy chilli sauce will ignite your tastebuds. To follow, we highly recommend the tuna salad in roasted sesame dressing, a combination of smoky and refreshing flavours.
Perfectly crisp tempura vegetables include sweet potato, zucchini, taro and kale. We’re a sucker for battered and fried vegetables.
Next to hit our table was the soft shell crab. One bite and I knew EAST restaurant was onto a winning dish. Blame the crunching of crab claws for temporarily stilling our conversation. As an accompaniment, the Taiwanese style crispy salted chicken hit the spot.
Another standout dish was the stir fried; Szechuan style diced salmon with pineapple in spicy chilli paste. It was not only beautifully presented and one of the most colourful (and Instagram worthy) dishes on the menu. This innovative dish truly represents the modern Chinese cuisine of EAST restaurant.
The sizzling sliced beef with black bean sauce is the perfect winter warmer and the stir fried string beans, beautifully blistered with just the right amount of hot chilli sauce, will have your taste buds dancing. For a finale, try the kimchi fried rice with salmon.
EAST restaurant is worth leaving the couch for, even on a cold Melbourne night! It’s relaxed atmosphere makes it perfect for almost any occasion – business lunches, dinner with friends or even a date – it might be love at first dumpling.
With your belly full of delicious Chinese food, kick on at nearby Eau De Vie for a quirky cocktail in a classy 20th century setting, or alternatively, LOOP Roof Cocktail Bar and Garden for a funkier atmosphere.
EAST Restaurant & Bar
Sheraton Melbourne Hotel
25 Little Collins Street, Melbourne CBD
Open 7 days Lunch 11:30am-3:00pm; Dinner: 5:00pm-late
(03) 9650 8838