Cafe East. Metairie: 4628 Rye. 504-888-0078.

Written by Tom Fitzmorris September 21, 2010 13:22 in

3 Fleur
Average check per person $25-$35
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Cafe East

Metairie 3: Houma Blvd To Kenner Line: 4628 Rye. 504-888-0078. Map.
Nice Casual.

The most ambitious and best Chinese restaurant in town when it first opened, Cafe East was the first New Orleans restaurant serving a Pan-Asian menu. It's mostly Chinese, but goodly amounts of Thai, Japanese, and Korean food show up, sometimes fused with other flavors in single dishes. For example, the meal begins with a dish of very good kimchee--the spicy, cold Korean cabbage. All this happens in a stunning, airy dining room with a singular design. In the past couple of years, the food has drifted toward the middle ground, and it's not as exciting as it had been. Nor is the service and other details. But in a town like ours where most Chinese restaurants work the low end of the spectrum, it's still one of the best.

The kitchen at Cafe East turns out dishes so original and unusual that you can have several meals here without eating a single dish you've had elsewhere. Even the familiar dishes are prepared with new twists. (The Peking duck, for example, comes out in three courses instead of just two.) The menu includes good versions of all the familiar Chinese dishes, too--but it would be a shame not to take advantage of the kitchen's immense creativity.

The building once housed the Canton Restaurant, one of the longest-running of New Orleans Chinese eateries. The people who own Cafe East (they're somehow connected with the Sake Cafe, but I'm not sure how) spent a lot of money renovating the place when it opened in 2004, and did it all over again after the flood caused by Katrina.

A striking, almost futuristic cube of a building in which every element makes a statement interesting enough to dwell on, Cafe East resembles no other Chinese restaurant. The enormous main dining room has high ceilings and lots of space between everything. Lighting sconces change colors slowly but constantly, making the place feel alive. The only missing piece is in the service department. Not enough of the waiters are up to the sophistication of the food and wine they serve.

Starters »Crab cake with lime chili plum sauce
Seared ahi tuna on greens, balsamic vinaigrette
»Goat cheese gyoza ravioli, lemongrass dressing
Egg roll (pork and vegetables)
Crawfish spring roll
Pork ribs
»Chicken pot stickers
»Szechuan dumplings
Caribbean phyllo-crusted prawns
»Lettuce wrap (around chicken and water chestnuts)
Wok fried calamari
Duck crepes (mango, cucumber, hoisin sauce)
Crab rangoon
Hot and sour chicken soup
»Chicken fire-pot soup
Asian wonton soup
»Seafood in red curry basil soup
Creamy corn egg drop soup
»Squid salad
Aromatic duck salad
Organic spring mix salad
Sesame shrimp
Ginger shrimp and scallops
Wok shrimp with cashews
»Shrimp with garlic sauce
Kung pao shrimp
Shrimp with broccoli
Szechuan shrimp
Sweet and sour chicken
Chicken with broccoli
»Wok cashew chicken
General Tso's chicken
Kung pao chicken
»Orange peel chicken
Mandarin chicken
»Sesame chicken
Chicken with garlic sauce
Pepper steak
Beef with broccoli
Beef with garlic sauce
»Beef with red curry sauce
»Mongolian beef
»Pork with garlic sauce
»Sizzling teriyaki with chicken, ribeye steak, or salmon
»Sesame seed pan-seared tuna with eggplant
Filet mignon with roasted garlic, red wine reduction
Scallops in firepot sauce with stir-fried beef
Honey walnut shrimp
Two flavor shrimp (tomato and cream sauces)
Shrimp, beef and chicken with mushrooms, okra, spicy sauce
»Crispy orange peel beef
»Wok seared ginger duck
»Szechuan style duck
»Peking duck served in two dishes
»Thai red snapper with green curry
Baked mahi-mahi, potato hash, lemon citrus beurre blanc
Pan seared salmon with raspberry teriyaki
»Crispy whole fish, szechuan style or with garlic and black bean sauce
Grouper meuniere
Fried rice with shrimp, chicken, roast pork, beef, crawfish or combinations
Lo mein with shrimp, chicken, roast pork, beef, crawfish or combinations
Pineapple curry fried rice with shrimp or chicken
Singapore curry noodles with shrimp, chicken, roast pork, beef, crawfish or combinations
Mango basil fried rice with shrimp or chicken
Pad thai with shrimp or chicken
Eggplant and tofu with basil garlic sauce
String bean with garlic sauce
Sesame tofu
Mu shu with chicken, pork or shrimp

Take a chance and order dishes you've never had before, even if you've ordered the same fried won tons and Mandarin chicken all your life. This restaurant will reveal a new world. Be ready for prices higher than you're used to paying for Chinese food, which is underpriced around New Orleans.

The service staff needs better training in the fine points, and more people. Service really lags sometimes.

Up to three points, positive or negative, for these characteristics. Absence of points denotes average performance in the matter.

  • Dining Environment +2
  • Consistency -1
  • Service
  • Value +1
  • Attitude
  • Wine & Bar
  • Hipness +1
  • Local Color


  • Romantic
  • Good for business meetings
  • Many private rooms
  • Open Sunday lunch and dinner
  • Open Monday lunch and dinner
  • Open most holidays
  • Open after 10 p.m.
  • Open all afternoon
  • Good for children
  • Easy, nearby parking
  • Reservations accepted