Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Fresh East: Not So Fresh

When I first heard about Fresh East in West Hollywood, I was excited. I loved the concept of healthy food that integrated various traditional Asian dishes. I often get sick from greasy Asian food, so I looked forward to enjoying a meal without getting stomach pains. I headed over to Fresh East with my groupon that I paid $10 for $20 worth of food. I looked over the menu which had many vegan options, in addition to items which could easily be made vegan upon request.

Everything sounded so interesting and I debated between Indian and Chinese food. I decided to try their Indian food. First, I ordered the red lentil soup ($4) and green salad ($3) to start. I opted for the Palak Paneer ($9) made vegan by substituting the cheese with tofu and omitting the yogurt. To accompany the meal, I ordered a melonade ($2). There was also complimentary mint lemon water. 

First, my red lentil soup came out.

This was pretty good. It had a slight spice to it and the lentils were fairly well-seasoned. The mint on top added a slight bitterness and was very cooling. I would have loved to see this soup be spicier as it was quite bland for an Indian dish.

Next, the salad came out.

This salad was delicious. The vegetables were very crisp and there was a nice variety. The dressing was very tasty and was sweet with a slight tanginess. It had notes of mango and a hint of spice. It worked perfectly on the salad and was fairly thick.

The melonade accompanying the meal was the best part.

This was so sweet and very refreshing. The taste of melon was very strong and there was a hint of lemon to balance it out. There was also a slight minty flavor which was very cooling.

Lastly, my main dish came out.

This was quite disgusting and inedible. There was absolutely no flavor. The red lentil dal was decent but was even blander than the soup. There was too much dal with not enough seasoning. The tofu and spinach was almost impossible to eat. The tofu was very undercooked and crumbly and the spinach was overly chewy. There was no seasoning on either one and they were completely tasteless. The rice was even worse and was very sticky. Even mixed with the dal, the consistency seemed way off. 

While the food was far from oily, I somehow ended up nauseous almost immediately after my meal. I wish this place understood that it is possible to have healthy food that tastes good. If they had just added more seasoning to each dish, it would have been way better. It's hard to see how there is such a huge difference between the delectably sweet lemonade and extremely bland Indian food. There needs to be more of a balance with the food and I hope Fresh East will work out these kinks as they have so much potential. 

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