East Village, Jackson Height, Astor Place... Am I naming the iconic places in the lower Manhattan? Don't be mistaken. These are actually the cocktails listed in East 8's menu. East 8, an Asian fusion tapas restaurant and bar, is the culmination of the owners’ love for St. Mark’s Place in New York City. Located at the ground floor of Grand Park City Hall, it is just within walking distance from Cityhall MRT Station.
Yellow Cab 4.2/5
Perhaps it was the time of the day when I reached. Located at Coleman street, I found this place extremely inviting.Be it the frontage or the interior, there was a relaxing feel to it. One of the owners, Emil, sat with us this evening. Having studied and worked in NYC for 13 years as a designer, he is one of the souls behind designing the perspective of East 8. We learnt that East 8 was imbued with the flavours and culture of "8th Street" in the lower Manhattan of NYC. From the chiselled brick wall to the Manhattan bridge structure suspension across the ceiling, it was all about details.
Jackson Height 4/5
They welcome their guests with a complimentary cocktail that changes daily, delighting even their regulars. It was Yellow Cab ($22) that took the lead this evening. This refreshing concoction of whiskey, gin and pineapple really lift up my tired senses. It was slightly tangy and sweet, with a tinge of bitterness. Following which, I got to try two other fusion cocktails, Jackson Height ($17) - "Thai" margarita with lime and a rim of Tom Yam salt and Astor Place ($16) - Yuzu in vodka, with a touch of thyme.
Astor Place 4.2/5
Once again, attention was paid to details- Instead of using the usual citrus for garnishing, the first was decorated with a Chilli Padi and the latter with thyme leaves. I'm not a cocktail connoisseur for sure, but I do appreciate cocktails with a well balanced concoction of spirits, sugar and bitters. I felt that their signature fusion cocktails definitely meet the mark. Down the list, it was refreshing to see ingredients like sake and soju in some other cocktails. Western dishes injected with Asian influences are rather common in our cosmopolitan city, but the idea of fusion cocktails is still not as widely explored.
As a start, Emil brought us A.L.T. ($16). As the name suggests, the dish was made of 3 basic ingredients but each characterised by their own distinct texture and flavour. Avocado - subtle, creamy. Lemon - acidic, sharp. Tuna - firm, meaty and mild. Extremely appetising, without overwhelming your taste buds. Really good stuff.
Portobello Mushroom Fries 4.2/5
In order not to bore their customers, especially their regulars, East 8 update their menu regularly by replacing some items with new creations. Certain items were retained due to popular demand. Portobello Mushroom Fries ($16) is one of them. I felt that the thin crispy outer crust did a wonderful job in locking in the juice, keeping every strip 'meaty'. Unlike the usual fries, this did not leave my mouth begging for water. Pretty addictive I must say.
Roller Lobster 3.8/5
Our first main the Roller Lobster ($28) was like a premium 'Ngor Hiang'. The poached lobster tail was wrapped in prosciutto ham, then doubled up with beancurb skin. The lobster was nicely poached, juicy and sweet but its sweetness was inundated by the saltiness of the prosciutto ham. The lime avocado oil and pickled seasonal vegetables did not do much in balancing the taste either. I do see a lot of potential in this dish, perhaps the execution itself needs further fine tuning.
Foie Gras Man Tao 3/5
Foie Gras Man Tao ($25) was the dish that enlightened me on the table setting. Emil explained that to live up to the spirit of “8th Street”East 8 strives to deliver quality dishes to its customers but in an unassuming manner. Customers can then relax and enjoy fine food without worrying the etiquette attached to fine dining. That was when it dawned upon me, I think, the reason behind setting the table with only a pair of chopsticks and a spoon. This Chinese sandwich can basically be eaten using just your hands. To me, it was an ingenious idea but poor execution once again. The fried Man Tou greased my hands as I lift it up with the apple compote falling off as I tried to take a bite. Rather than smooth and creamy, the foie gras was sort of granular and crumbly. Perhaps, a soft steamed Chinese bun might work better in bringing this dish together.
Miso Chilean Seabass 4.8/5
Knowing that I'm a fish lover, Emil was kind enough to prep one of their signature mains, Miso Chilean Seabass ($24) served with buttered shimeji mushroom and potato mash. Being the same family as cod fish, this sea bass bears similar flavour and mouthful of a codfish. Marinated with miso and wine, the fish was perfectly seared. This was absolutely my favourite main this evening.
Summer Spiced Lamb 4.5/5
Summer Spiced Lamb ($24) was a dish that literally spiced up the evening. The roasted lamb short ribs are marinated in different level of special spicy blend, allowing the guests to choose the level of spiciness they prefer. We chose the mid level that evening. The meat was extremely tender with only a slight gaminess. It slid off its bones effortlessly. Glazed with sweet lime zest sauce, the blend of sweet, spicy and zest cut the fattiness really well. I had mine together with the caramalised pineapples which further enhanced the overall taste.
Molten Peanut Butter & Chocolate 4.2/5
East 8's desserts do not disappoint. If you are a peanut butter lover, their Molten Peanut Butter & Chocolate ($15) will definitely satisfied your craving. I thought serving it straight from a mini saucepan was really cute and also a great way to contain the choco-peanut lava. A more gigantic scope of vanilla ice cream would have complimented it better... More oomph for sure!
I'm really drawn to their ambience. Though there were some misses this evening, I believe this place has a lot to offer in time to come. After all, they have only been in the scene for a year plus. I have never been to Manhattan but from the stylish interior to the table setting and choice of ingredients used, I could really sense the effort from the owners in trying to keep it true to the spirit of St. Mark's Place. I'm sure spending an afternoon here will be equally enjoyable.
Written By Si An. A girl who is allured by travelling, loves the feel of freedom, smell of the rain and the aroma of fine coffee and food.
Grand Park Hotel City Hall
10 Coleman Street
#01-21/22 (facing Hill Street)
Tel: +65 63388289
Nearest MRT: City Hall (EW Line, NS Line)
Mon-Thur: 12pm - 11pm
Fri: 12pm - 12midnight
Sat: 6pm - 12midnight
(Closed on Sun)
1) Alight at City Hall MRT station. Take Exit B. Turn left and walk down North Bridge Road. At the junction North Bridge Road and Coleman Road, cross the road towards Peninsula Plaza. Walk down Coleman Road. At the junction of Coleman Road and Hill Street, turn right. Walk to destination. Journey time about 8 minutes. [Map]