We were very excited when we learned about Bent’s seafood tasting menu because Susur Lee is in charge of the Bent’s kitchen and the restaurant is operated by his sons Kai and Levi Bent Lee. We even cancelled our reservation at somewhere else that night because the tasting menu was ending on the very next day (at least for some reasons we thought so).
Susur Lee’s wife, Branda Bent-Lee, was behind the interior design of Bent. I really appreciate the little details that she added to every corner in the restaurant. The atmosphere was very lively and casual. Yet, it was kind of loud that JW and I had a hard time talking.
Bent’s seafood tasting bent-o box included a wide selection of items that can be found on their menu. We thought this would be a great opportunity to try out some of their dishes. The tasting bent-o box costs $35 from 5-7 and $42 from 7 onwards.
The tasting bent-o box included:
:: Lime Coconut-Curry Shrimp Soup
The soup was light with the perfect balance of curry, coconut and spices. It was not spicy and very refreshing. Although the portion was small, you can find different ingredients in the soup so each spoon was filled with unique texture and flavour. We enjoyed the soup very much.
Shortly after, a server came up to us and explained what was in the dish that she was holding. I simply said okay thinking that it was just one of the bento box dishes as it was so loud in the restaurant and I could barely hear her. After she put down the salad, JW told me that the salad was not part of the bento box. Opps.
The salad was basically different marinated vegetables including beets, carrots, beans and kohlrabi. Not very strong in flavour and easy in the mouth.
Then the rest of the dishes came on a tray like a large bento box:
:: Spicy Peruvian Style Ceviche
The dish was served cold. The white snapper and calamari were mixed with a lot of Aji Amarillo chili and fresh lime juice and served in the middle. The mussels and clams were served on the side with only a little bit of sauce drizzled on top. We could barely taste the flavour of the white snapper and calamari because there was too much sauce and the sauce was too spicy for us. Yet the mussels and clams were deliciously flavoured since it was not drowned in the chili.
:: Pressed Octopus
This was JW’s favourite dish. The octopus was chewy and did not have much flavour on its own. Yet, the pomegranate vinaigrette and olive oil gave an interesting hint of sweetness and saltiness.
:: Spicy Tuna Avocado Tartare
I was expecting the deep fried rice cake and tuna to be freshly fried yet it was served cold again. I would prefer them to be nice and hot.
One of the taco came in a wonton shell and the other one in a taro shell. I preferred the taro shell since the taro added a new dimension to the lobster filling. JW, on the other hand, preferred the wonton shell because of its crispiness. Yet they were both equally delicious. The lobster was very fresh.
:: Oyster Sake Shot
First, we do not like oysters. Marinated in lemongrass, shallots and ponzu sauce, we took it in one shot. Although not as gross as fresh oysters, it was still not our thing.
:: Tuna+Watermelon Ceviche
The dish was way too sour. We couldn’t taste the tuna at all because the citrus juice was very very sour. Glad there was the watermelon to balance off the sourness. The Chinese doughnut fritter added an contrasting texture to dish but it did not really go with the watermelon nor the tuna.
When put into the mouth, the japanese omelette embraced the salmon completely and added a hint of sweetness that tasted like pancake to the salmon. Although the softness and doughiness were not very flattering, they created an interesting experience in the mouth when mixed with the salmon.
In addition to the bent-o box, we also ordered the Braised Spiced Short Ribs. The braised short rib was so so soft and juicy. Although the parsnip puree had a very strong scent of truffle which we loved, it was weirdly a little too sweet.
The short rib also came with roasted duck fat potato. Very delicious. You can never go wrong with the roasted potato.
Our time at Bent was an unique and impressive experience as we tried out different combinations of texture and flavour that were unheard of in other restaurants. But we realized that it was not our thing. Most of the dishes were overpowered by the sauce and we could not taste the natural flavour of the food. When the flavours of all the dishes were added together, it was just too overwhelming. Yet, we still look forward to our next visit to other Susur Lee’s restaurants.