Husband-and-wife team Tuan Truong and Lien Pham knew they would have to do something a little different to stand out amid the hundreds of Asian restaurants in Broward. So their East West Cafe covers a lot of territory, with stops in Thailand, Indonesia, China, Malaysia, Korea and the couple’s native Vietnam. What also helps separate the 50-seat restaurant from the pack is that the sauces and vegetables (from Whole Foods) are organic, MSG isn’t used, and you can order dishes like pho, a traditional Vietnamese soup, with tofu. About the only major Asian item noticeably missing at East West is sushi, but one of Broward’s best Japanese restaurants, Marumi Sushi, is in the same Plantation plaza.
Pham admits she doesn’t know much about wine, so “I tell people they can bring their own,” she says, with no corkage fee. You will find sake, plum wine and a few Asian beers including China’s Tsingtao and Vietnam’s 33 (the name, we’ve read, has something to do with the original bottle size). If you’re overwhelmed by the extensive menu, pictures of several dishes are posted at the booths in the center of the restaurant
Ambience: Open nearly seven months, East West looks like a basic storefront, but inside it’s cheery and colorful, with brick walls, abstract art and red paper decorations you might find in a Chinese restaurant. Servers are charming and helpful, and keep the meal well-paced, with water glasses always full.
- A Saigon crepe filled with sliced chicken, shrimp, yellow mung beans, onions, Chinese mushrooms and lots of bean sprouts
- Satay – two skewers of juicy, grilled chicken served with sweet-and-sour cucumber and curry sauces
- Fried egg rolls packed with lean pork, shredded jicama and other veggies
- Steamed or pan-fried pot stickers
- Fresh spring rolls
- A generous bowl of pho – thin beef slices and rice noodles in a broth heady with anise, cilantro and lime served with bean sprouts, basil leaves, a slice of lime and fresh chile peppers on the side
- Malaysian noodles – a flavorful dish of pan-fried noodles spiked with garlic, shallots, Chinese sausage, bean sprouts, broccoli and soy sauce and topped with a fried egg
- Sumptuous red curry made with a house-made red chile paste and creamy coconut milk
- Fragrant garlic bean sauce served atop a simple stir fry with veggies, chicken and rice
- Korean barbecue beef
- The Korean noodle dish chap che
- Sticky mango rice rendered green by pandan leaves
- Robustly flavored black rice pudding, tender from long cooking, served with coconut milk, peanuts and a dusting of sesame seeds