East/West

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Leicester Square

While there’s nothing exotic about East/West’s location, a messy shopping centre on the edge of Chinatown, it could hardly feel any more Asian. The neighbouring stalls selling cutesy toys and kitschy accessories set the scene, but the authentic Indonesian cooking steals the show. There’s no menu as such, just a choice of the four or five dishes picked for that day. And at this price – a tenner will comfortably feed two people – it really is a steal.

In a kitchen tucked behind the kind of wooden pushcart used by street food vendors in Jakarta, the convivial owner prepares a faithful version of bakso, a Javanese soup of spongy meatballs in a clear, flavoursome broth. Other dishes are prepared off-site and heated upon order, but there’s no doubting their freshness and authenticity. Nasi padang combines coconut rice with several items including rendang (tender, flaky beef simmered for six hours in coconut milk), sayur lodeh (a spicy vegetable stew), batagor (fried fish dumplings) and several varieties of sambal (chilli sauce). If the spice is overbearing, a dessert of glutinous black rice in coconut cream makes a cool finish. Be prepared to wait at peak times – there are only three tables.

Venue name: East/West
Contact:
Address: 1st Floor
57 Charing Cross Road
London
WC2H 0NE
Opening hours: Meals served noon-9pm Mon-Sun
Transport: Tube: Leicester Square or Tottenham Court Road tube
Price: Main courses £5-£8

Average User Rating

2.5 / 5

Rating Breakdown

  • 5 star:0
  • 4 star:1
  • 3 star:0
  • 2 star:0
  • 1 star:1
LiveReviews|2
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Cam P

I think the previous reviewer must have caught them on a real off day, as all I can say is that I've been there twice now (once for lunch, once for an early supper) and on both occasions have been supremely impressed by the authenticity and quality of the food served. The beef rendang is worth particular mention - quite possibly the best in London, and I've tried my fair share. Granted the environment is more conducive to a quick meal rather than somewhere you'd linger to savour the ambiance, but for authentic Indonesian flavours this place is hard to beat.

Christopher Terry

Four stars? Are you kidding me? This is among the nastiest food I've ever eaten, in London or anywhere else. Okay, we showed up late on a Saturday afternoon, half five. But if they didn't have food left fit to eat, they should have said so. It was not fit to eat. The bakso - Javanese meatball soup - was a tasteless swill of hot water, rubbery flavourless meatballs and bits of vegetation. The Nasi Padang was hideous even though I finished it. No discernible coconut flavour, overspiced meat cooked to grim chewy leather. Horrible. And some awful sickly sweet concoction involving ice and sugar that I could not eat. This place trades on looking like authentic Malay/Indonesian streetfood. It would not last five seconds in the real world. It made me feel sick. Avoid it like plague. For that matter, on this evidence, avoid Time Out's recommendations like the plague.