Yep, I’ve dyed half my head blonde again. Half love it and half in absolute horror that the top of my head is stripy. It’s turned me into a total hair-zilla this week and luckily I’m getting it fixed on Saturday morning. My poor natural brown! Anyway, I’m writing this up a hill in the 26 degree… cloud-shine? It’s roasting but the sun is hiding, there I’ve invented a new weather term. There’s a couple lying on the other side watching me with great interest, reaaaaaally hoping I don’t get mugged for my mac.
Last night I continued my journey around the fantastic independent restaurants in Stirling. I’ve said before, it’s pretty hard to find somewhere to eat that isn’t a chain but the little guys are fighting back. None more than Bite East. The evening was organised between myself and Cailin who owns the restaurant. She had popped into the office to ask about working with us over Freshers, doing some promotion etc and my boss mentioned I blogged. A few quick emails back and forth and I assembled some troops in the form of new bloggers, Clare & Hollie and seasoned professional, Sharon. It was actually really nice to get a group of people who don’t know each other together and we all had a good giggle.
Bite East is located right in the centre of town on Port Street in a beautiful old building which I remember being called Little Johns (showing my age). It still has the old, pretty stained glassed windows – I’m so glad they didn’t get rid of them. We were given a big table right at the front door, which was a blessing on such a muggy night, but I do recommend you ask to sit up the back at the more ‘romantic’ tables.
We kicked off with some very refreshing fruit punches and bubble teas. I’m 50/50 on bubble tea, I find it a really funny consistency but the fruit punch was ideal. I had a very tasty passionfruit one which came with yogurt flavoured balls in the bottom, the girls laughed at me when I said ‘It makes my drink fun’ ‘eh, that’s what alcohol is for Lauren!’
Cailin had worked out a menu for us in advance and it wasn’t long until the sushi was coming thick and fast. My goodness I’ve never seen such beautiful presentation in a restaurant. Nothing was tacky or overdone, it was Instagram heaven. I’m not a sushi novice, I’ve had a fair few visits to YO in my time but this sushi was something else. So fresh and light…and huge.
Things kicked off with little warm battered balls called Takoyaki with octopus. I love calamari so I was so down with these. The flakes are actually delicately thin slices of dried fish which gave the whole thing a lovely aroma. Next up were some beautiful California rolls with crab and avocado, a sprinkling of roe and a Japanese mayo. I had forgotten how good it was to dunk one of these babies in some soy and shove the whole thing in your mouth. Even if I did look like a hamster.
Next up, the Nigiri Combo and Sashimi Combo. A raw fish lovers heaven. I can get fully onboard with the salmon, tuna and prawn but I couldn’t have a raw scallop. I just can’t have them any other way than fried quickly in butter… The fish was incredibly fresh and beautifully chilled on a bed of ice & shredded Japanese radish. You can start to see what I mean about the presentation, so much work goes in to each plate. Never mind slapping some chips down, this is art!
We reached the end of our sushi adventure with this little guy, what a handsome and inquisitive chap! He almost distracted me from how delicious the Dragon rolls are, but I was quick to ruin the presentation and nab his prawn dragon tail from the other end. A crispy fried piece of king prawn with that moreish sticky rice and a little avocado jacket. The drizzled sauce was a sweet teriyaki style glaze and I reckon this was my favourite from the whole selection!
We were all suitably stuffed in that nice way that sushi makes you, but we were nowhere near done. Even writing this I keep letting out little slow ‘I’m still full’ breaths. The mains started coming pretty quickly, which is a testament to the chefs – I love quick service!
First off, these crispy delights! King Prawns with very fine crispy potato ‘shreddings’ and a sauce that tasted like really top quality…salad cream. Bear with me, it was incredible. The prawns were so thick I had to revert to my knife and fork (I’d been chop-sticking the best I could), they were warm and just what I needed to transition from the sushi.
Next up, the star of the show – sticky, sizzling, spicy sea bass. I feel like I’m revealing this too soon but I’m trying to remain in the order things arrived in. This appeared bubbling and as Jamie Oliver says ‘blipping’ away on it’s little tin foil bed. It smelt incredible, like allllll the good Chinese food at once. The fish fell off the bone and into all our mouths so quickly. We had it with some lovely fresh fried rice and every one of us went back again and again for more. Definitely the favourite! We all kept exclaiming that it’s something we’d never order, but now we’ve tried it I think a repeat visit is due.
Talk about an Instagram dream, we were served a sticky sweet & sour chicken IN A PINEAPPLE. Cailin brought it over and we all thought we’d skipped to dessert early, but she opened the top to reveal another course! This was a special serve as usually the pineapple bowl is reserved for the pineapple chicken which will hit the menu soon, but what a showstopper and very very tasty. I think this would be a great date restaurant, no chance for awkward silences with this on the table.
By this time we were all really struggling, as Sharon put it, the table had reached critical mass and there were still more courses to come. Cailin couldn’t recommend these stir fried fine beans enough and I think I’d have destroyed the whole plate if I wasn’t struggling by that point. A really fresh version of my favourite take away Chinese, special fried rice.
We’d gotten to the wide-eyed ‘I can’t eat anything else’ stage but those green beans were a game changer. We all dug in and exclaimed about just how good they were. I know, just green beans but they were in a full-flavoured almost salty dressing which we managed to find out was made from bean sprouts. Make sure you order these as a side if (when!) you go, I could just eat a plate of them on their own. We finished up with the classic peking crispy shredded beef, which I think was maybe too sweet for some of the girls but I loved it. Another presentation gold star here too!
There was so much food leftover, Cailin gave us all a little take away box and we plundered the table buffet-style. I spent my morning nibbling on more of those incredible green beans, not your usual breakfast.
Obviously as full disclosure, all meals and drinks were provided free of charge by Bite East as a gift. But don’t let that fool you into thinking I was forced to write nice things, the food was bloody delightful!
I’m hoping that this post has made you crave an evening of oriental fusion cooking, there’s no better place than Bite East. The attention to detail that goes into each plate, the freshness of ingredients and the passion from the staff is just wonderful. If you’re in Stirling, pop along to 52 Port Street and have a proper, delicious and very reasonably priced sit down meal in lovely surroundings. You can have a nosey (and a like!) at their Facebook page here and if you go in, say hi to Cailin for me!