East Street

East Street

Not to be confused with the south London street market also called East Street – where you’re more likely to pick up a bowl of winkles than some nam prik – this is a London restaurant from the people behind Tampopo, a Manchester-based chain. Like the Tampopos scattered across Middle England, it is a pan-Asian restaurant trying to span a huge range of cuisines.

East Street’s a busy, noisy room with shared tables and engaging staff, but the most striking impression is of the illuminated signs suspended from the ceiling. These cleverly ape the street signs for bars, cafés and other tourist services you can see across Asia, written in English or indigenous scripts.

The interior design is brilliantly evocative of many Asian cafés with brightly coloured chairs, fans secured to corrugated walls, and phonecards plastered all over the walls leading the loos. Watch the soundless Studio Ghibli cartoon that’s aptly projected on the rear wall, and you really can feel spirited away.

The distinctive typeface used for East Street’s own sign is remarkably similar to the curvy serifs created for Cabbages and Condoms, a delightful restaurant in Bangkok; the Thai restaurant’s calligraphy is in turn reminiscent of the iconic, international Coca-Cola signs in their many localised scripts.

But does the East Street kitchen deliver? Only up to a point, yes. This is a fast-food canteen chain, with budget pricing, so you can’t really expect the culinary precision of somewhere like, say, a Busaba Eathai, which manages to hit the right notes but at greater cost. And just as the Chinese characters of the illuminated signs here have been incorrectly copied, so that someone who reads Chinese will get the sense of it even though the detail’s a bit shaky, so it is with the food.

Noodles feature prominently. Singaporean-style laksa, and the Burmese/northern Thai dish called khao soi used remarkably similar-tasting spice mixes, and the yellow noodles used in both dishes were the same.

Nasi goreng tasted mainly of the fried rice, yet contained much the same colourful hotchpotch of ingredients found in many of the other dishes: boneless chicken, shiitake mushrooms, lime leaves, spring onion, red capsicum pepper… a jabberwocky of nations and ingredients unlike any version I’ve had in Indonesia. Tom yam, the hot and sour Thai soup, is served with vermicelli noodles in it; goi cuon, the Vietnamese ‘summer rolls’, were generously stuffed but lacked the shock of the unfamiliar, curious-tasting Vietnamese herbs you find in the Mekong Delta.

The real night markets of Asia celebrate dishes which are bitter, sour, very salty, on the bone, have exoskeletons, stink, are raw, or are still alive. In contrast, the East Street menu has been bowdlerised for its customer base of London office workers so that nothing offends. It evokes the East visually, but with the unpleasant smells, unfamiliar flavours and peculiar discoveries expurged. I liked it enough to visit three times, even though it’s not the ‘The Real Thing’ – but if that’s what you’re really looking for, you’ll need to buy a long-haul ticket going east.

Venue name: East Street
Address: 3-5 Rathbone Place
Opening hours: Open 11.30am-11pm Mon-Fri; noon-11pm Sat; noon-10pm Sun
Transport: Tube: Tottenham Court Road tube
Price: Meal for two with drinks and service: around £40.

Average User Rating

3.9 / 5

Rating Breakdown

  • 5 star:9
  • 4 star:0
  • 3 star:2
  • 2 star:0
  • 1 star:3
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So, East Street restaurant, its become a bit of a regular hang out for us recently. They've added some new dishes to the menu recently that I'm working my way through. So far I'd recommend the Monkfish curry, really really tasty and I'd say good value for £13. The dessert taster platter is an East Asian treat too. Yes please! Re the TimeOut review of the place, not sure what they expected. Yes, if you want the actual real deal get a plane ticket to East Asia, goes without saying really...?


We LOVE his place. The Changmai noodles are fantastic and the decor is very quirky


Had a fantastic dinner at east street. Really don't understand negative comments. Decor really cool Loved the nasi goreng - hit spot - tempura prawns / veg authentic generous portions and delicious. My partner v happy with her food - delicious mixed platter of starters and greatbflavour noodles. Drank cold beer Chilled out V happy! Service v friendly. Ok lt is a bit like wagamama but think wagamama but more colourful, more flavour, more individual.


It's ok and the interior is very cool. But as someone below said, it's really just Wagamama with better decor. If you want better Asian fusion food for the same price I'd tell you to go to Banana Tree Canteen on Wardour Street - it still wouldn't impress anyone from SE Asia but at least you get some flavour.


Quick and quite tasty, if lacking a certain punch. It was nothing to write home about and the venue was low on hubub (it looked nice but wasn't very cosy) but I'd go again.

Milly J

Love this place, I work just up the road and have been here for lunch a few times now. I took my other half at the weekend too, after raving about the place so much he wanted to try it for himself. To start with the decor is fantastic, a lot of thought has clearly gone into the design. I’d also rate the service highly – fast, friendly and from waiters who bloody well know what they're talking about! Most importantly though, the food is To. Die. For! The dishes I’ve tried so far have been absolutely spot on. I'd recommend the Khao Soi (noodles in a red curry sauce) which is sublime and the corn fritters but my go-to favourite is their Nasi Goreng. Fresh ingredients, beautifully wok fried, fantastic flavours and good portion size. VERY moreish. The starter platter to share is very good too as you get a selection of the best 'small dishes'. I'd say the prices are very reasonable and the lunchtime menu is an absolute bargain. Beats the likes of Wagamama and Busabai Eat Thai hands down.


Had dinner here with a couple of girfriends las tweek: lovely evening. I grew up in Singapore and travelled extensively in Asia: the ambiance took me right back there. Food quality was excellent - Laksa probably one of the best I've tasted in the West and my friends lovedt their Adobo and Chicken Miso Ramen. Staff were super-helpful and genuinely friendly, and we loved the Asian cocktails! Great addition to this part of town north of Oxford St, will become a regular haunt for me.


Don't go to this place. The food is not authentic, portions are very small, and don't be fooled by the cheap decor: it's very pricey. Walk a few minutes toward Euston and there's tons better restaurants around. Total ripoff.


im filipino and my friend is malay-singaporean and boy were we excited when we found out our favorite foods are at this place!! unfortunately, its bland. missing the taste that is true. decor is brilliant. but the food is lacking in any authenticity. AND just to let you know for food to taste good it doesnt need to be expensive. ACTUALLY it should be the opposite cheap massive portions with an asian mother welcoming you in to eat some even though youre stuffed. if youve never tried the real thing and youre hoping to impress that new asian girl youre dating- dont try it here. but if youve never been to SEasia then youre in for a great stimulating environment.


Popped in by myself for lunch. Had Gyoza, Laksa and a Samsung Whisky bucket and reminisced about my travels in Asia. Although I was stuffed halfway through my Laksa, I still kept going back for more. Great service, the waitress was able to answer all of my many questions. Perfect place for a quick bite to eat before or after the cinema. Very reasonable.


Great Pan Asian food at very reasonable price! Love the street market feel/ambiance! As a vegetarian, was excellent to see so many veggie options on the menu. Would love for one to be in the city, especially seeing as it has a take out service. Will be making a return visit very soon.


Went here last night with friends we had the tampopo platter. I ordered the red curry which was very yummy and the somtam was on par with those I tasted in Thailand. My friends all enjoyed their dishes too. Tip: Try the sangsom and coke it comes in a plastic bucket with 2 staws!


Totally and utterly run of the mill. Wagamama practices this concept to much better effect.


An absolute gem of a place. I went for lunch pre launch and had the Chicken Miso Ramen, ramen noodles in a slurpilicious sesame(?) and chilli miso soup, topped with chicken and a boiled egg. Not my usual thing but I would definitely order it again. My group all tried some and were raving about it too. As I said, a gem, it has certainly earnt a place on my list of favourite feeding spots..