Does Delhi NCR, floating as it is in a sea of Chinese and south-east Asian flavours, need yet another pan-Asian restaurant? My answer to this rhetorical question is an unqualified ‘yes’ for two reasons. On the evolutionary ladder of eating out, Delhi has barely grown out of its Neanderthal phase, so any addition to its repertoire of options must be welcomed with a hug and a kiss. And if the new kid on the block shows the spunk of a cocky youngster, it deserves a red carpet welcome.
Its decor has all the touches of Super Potato, the much- feted Japanese design firm that believes in being stylish without showing signs of being a fashion victim. Its menu doesn’t go overboard with creativity — I wish it did, though, with the portions — yet it has a surprise tucked away in every page. The service is friendly, efficient and unobtrusive — moving like a well- oiled machine under the watchful eye of an Australian manager who was a tad apologetic about his country’s cricketing reputation.
We were served by a young woman from Mizoram who had an inspiring personal story to narrate — a recent migrant to the city, she takes care of her widowed mother, pays for her brother’s college education, and yet doesn’t look stressed. She was friendly without being familiar; she was knowledgeable about the menu without overwhelming us with the information at her command. This is the kind of service that makes me feel at ease, and inspires my older son, who has just entered his awkward teens, to strike up a conversation.
How did I decide that Eest is a welcome new addition to the city’s dining scene? Notice I’m not mentioning the name Gurgaon, for Westin, which is bang opposite IFFCO Chowk, can be reached in 20 minutes from Vasant Vihar at night. That’s about half the time it takes me to reach the Saket malls. But that’s not the reason why I will go back to Eest. It’s the food that’ll be my hook.
The food at Eest is just the kind that your little ones — like my perennially hungry son — will give a 9.7 out of 10 rating. That’s being over- generous but you’ll also be inclined to be so after you’ve had the cheong fun , the softness of the rice wrapping contrasting the crunchiness of the shrimp inside; the honey BBQ chicken puffs made to perfection; and the sushi rolls — the California rolls with crab meat thankfully underwhelmed by either guacamole or cream cheese and the prawn tempura rolls where the bite of the filling contrasts with the slush of the fish roe.
To test out the restaurant’s ability to pull off disparate cuisine offerings we asked for chicken bulgogi ( though it was tenderloin on the menu) and it just melted in the mouth; the Thai stir- fried prawns with chilli, garlic and hot basil, a welcome diversion from the curries; and a pad thai with a gentle tamarind sauce that stirred my soul. This was simple — and simply good — food that kept pace with the wine ( I suggest the Cape Mentelle Sauvignon Blanc and Semillion blend from Australia) and the languid conversation. As long as Eest is Eest, I’ll be happy to go back.