eastZeast, or however it is they write their name (I have even less of an idea of how you’re supposed to say it), is a northern English chain of Indian restaurants, with locations in Manchester, Liverpool, Preston and Birmingham. I have no clue what the other locations are like but the Liverpool branch’s design is a monument to bad taste. It looks like it was modeled on the mansions of international smugglers in ’70s Bombay cinema. People who fill their lobby with such couches and lamps are capable of anything. An urge to run out the door (past the burly man in kurta-pajama and a turban who might or might not have been South Asian) came upon me as I entered but I had to feed 15 people and the only other options in range were a branch of Pizza Express or the inevitable fish and chips. And so we stayed and waited for a table to be put together. When it was ready we sat down on shiny silver chairs and watched massive naans go by us, hung from metal hooks like so much tortured laundry, and contemplated the menu. Wouldn’t you know it, when the food arrived it was pretty good.
Their website, by the way, proclaims them “the home of desi kashmiri cooking”. But the menu says “the home of Punjabi cooking”. I’m not sure what kind of game they’re playing with out minds, but trust the menu: this is Punjabi food. The restaurant is halal and the menu nods to both the Indian and Pakistani sides of Punjab (in fact, it wouldn’t surprise me if this is a Pakistani-owned restaurant). As at Tayyabs and Lahore Kebab House, there is no kali/black dal on the menu—I’m not sure what is up with the UK’s Punjabi restaurants.
Here is what I ordered for the group (we got multiple orders of a few things so everyone could eat a well-rounded meal, family-style). To start, chicken seekh kababs and what I swear were mutton tikkas (I only raise this in provisional terms because the menu on their website doesn’t mention mutton tikkas). Anyway, both sets of kababs were quite good. For the mains, Peshawari chicken (ho-hum) and achari gosht ( very good). Tarka dal, a tangy bhindi/okra dish and something called Bombay aloo on the side—all very good indeed, even if the dal was a bit too oily. Rice and the torture-porn naan to eat it all with. See below for horrible pictures of all of this—I left my camera in the hotel and so used my phone in less than perfect lighting conditions. Actually, I lie about the “pictures of all of this” part: I seem to have failed to photograph the bhindi—a pity as it was almost on par with the excellent bhindi dish at Tamarind..
Service was simultaneously attentive and in keeping with the ludicrous interior design. The prices, however, were reasonable—we got out below £20/head (there was no alcohol consumed, however). I’m sure there’s a lot better food in Liverpool—though I don’t know that I’d guess that there’s a lot better Indian/Pakistani food—but if you’re in the King’s Dock area of Liverpool and looking for dinner I’d say eastZeast is likely to please (I don’t think they’re open for lunch). If you go, please find out how you’re supposed to pronounce the name. And if you make it to the party level one floor up please let me know what manner of depraved furniture they have up there.
Coming up next week on the London food front: Spanish food in Soho and Covent Garden and a curry house in Shepherd’s Bush.