Where does east meet west in Melbourne? At EAST, a wine bar and tapas-style Chinese restaurant at the east end of Little Collins Street, of course. Located on the ground floor of the Sheraton Melbourne Hotel, EAST offers an innovative interpretation of traditional Chinese flavours with a wine and cocktail list to match.
The contemporary interior, designed by Hecker Guthrie, features contrasting colours and textures, including raw concrete, jade glass-tiled walls and black steel tables with white-tiled tabletops. Not everything is modern, though. The decor also pays a subtle tribute to traditional Chinese elements, with paper lantern-shaped lampshades and glazed crockery with a jade-coloured rim. Even the trolley wheels on the high tables are reminiscent of dim sum trolleys.
Head Chef Gang Qian, known as Ben, arrived at EAST fresh from a stint at Shanghai’s Radisson Blu Plaza Xingguo Hotel, where he served just two tables a day. With EAST holding 55 seats, it’s safe to say it was a bit of a change!
Ben’s menu offers both traditional and modern Chinese dishes that are designed to share. Start with smaller dishes like the crispy soft shell crab or crispy cheesy potato balls, before moving onto larger options, served with sides of greens and rice or noodles. How does some melt-in-the-mouth Shanghai-style slow-cooked lamb or stir-fried kung bao chilli king prawns sound?
EAST is the sister restaurant to well-known Melbourne restaurants Hu Tong Dumpling Bar and Man Tong Kitchen so, naturally, a selection of the signature Hu Tong Group dim sum are also available. These include juicy pork dumplings with black truffle; pork xiao long bao; shredded turnip pastries and steamed egg custard buns.
The beverage menu features beers, Australian and European wines and inventive, Asian-inspired cocktails. Order a Great East to start (vodka, gin, ginger, cucumber, chilli and lemon juice) before moving onto a Chocolate Lover for dessert – it includes rum, kahlua, chocolate sauce and black crème de cacao.
For a more traditional accompaniment to the Chinese dishes, a variety of premium Chinese teas are offered. There’s the delicate chrysanthemum tea, energising tai hu green bamboo tea, and rose flower tea, which is said to ward off colds and flu.
EAST is open daily for lunch and dinner, making it the ideal venue for a business lunch, after-work Asian cocktails with Chinese tapas, or a weekend family dinner.