Monday, March 14, 2016

Bent: Susur Lee Asian-Fusion on Dundas West

East of Trinity Bellwoods Park on the corner of Dundas and Markham is Bent, the newest member in Susur Lee's family of restaurants with Lee in charge of the kitchen, helmed by chef de cuisine Bryan Gunness, formerly of Lee, while sons Levi and Kai Bent-Lee step into the spotlight and oversee the dining experience. The space is designed by Lee's wife Brenda Bent, and partner Karen Gable, and is a stark contrast to Lee. The decor here is light, fresh and whimsically retro. The room is relaxed and playful detailed with warm pieces of vintage furniture, such as backgammon-style table tops and vinyl diner-style seating. Crazy touches like vintage Pachinko games — a Japanese arcade game — dot the walls and the terrarium-inspired hostess station add character and a dash of whimsy to the space. The menu features Asian flavours prepared with European techniques and international flavours prepped with Asian techniques. Plates are small and meant for sharing, and the menu includes offerings from both the hot kitchen and raw bar. The restaurant was positively booming on a Saturday night, and with a symphony of creative and consistently delicious plates coming out of the kitchen. With friendly attentive service and a lively atmosphere, it's not surprising it's buzzing every night.

Bent's Asian Fusion menu

Bent's fabulous Singapore Slaw

Miyasaka Yawaraka Junmai Sake

Chickpea Tempura Tofu "Lion Head" with Korean sweet and sour chili sauce, lentil mignonette, Asian marinated shishito peppers and golden sand

Pulled Beef Short Rib Crepes with braised apples, spiced tamarind sauce, vidal grape syrup and  sesame brittle

Lobster tacos with charred onion chipotle tomato salsa, mango, avocado in taro shells

Roasted Jerusalem Artichoke and Sweet Potato with pumpkin seeds and whipped goat cheese

Roasted Diver Scallop with Sundried Tomato Crust with caper and rasin compote, yuzu squash carrot purée, citrus tarragon butter sauce and dusted with powdered nori

Bent Banana Brownie with berry coulis and cheesecake mousse

Closeup of Banana Brownie

Coconut and Lemongrass Panna Cotta

Kale & Tofu Salad with Sesame Dressing
Serves 2
Recipe courtesy of Chef Susur Lee, Bent

Sesame Dressing:
2 oz sesame paste
2.5 oz tamarind soy
4 oz rice vinegar
6 oz sugar
2.5 oz white miso    
4 oz mayo
1/4 tsp fresh wasabi
1/4 cup sesame oil

1 lb fresh kale
3 tbsp olive oil
pinch of salt
1/2 large Asian pear, shredded
1/2 package silk tofu, sliced
2 wedges lemon 

Whisk all of the dressing ingredients together and set aside. Remove the ribbing from the kale, then soak in cold water for 10 minutes. Cut into bite size strips, then marinate the olive oil, two wedges of lemon and a pinch of salt. While it's marinating, begin to build the dish. Slice the tomato and place in the bottom of a serving bowl. Add the sliced tofu, then the kale, and on top of kale place the Asian pear. Drizzle with 4 tablespoons of sesame dressing and serve.

Bent's Asian Caesar Cocktail
Recipe courtesy of Chef Susur Lee, Bent

9 cups Clamato Juice
6 tbsp soy sauce
4 tbsp Sriracha 
3 tbsp chili/sesame oil mix
3 tbsp Worcestershire Sauce
8 tsp Hoisin
8 tsp fresh ginger juice
1 handful cilantro, washed and dried
2-3 limes and lemons
Caesar rim mixture, as you prefer

Combine the first 7 ingredients well then steep with fresh cilantro for 24 hours. Rub the rim of each tall glass with a lemon wedge and swirl into your preferred seasoning. Add 1 1/2 oz of Vodka and a squeeze of fresh lime juice over ice, then add 4 oz of the Asian Caesar mix. Garnish with a picked radish, lemon, like and fresh cilantro. Bent also serve this with an oyster on half shell balanced on top of the glass.

Susur Lee's Chinese Barbecued Pork
Serves 4-6
Recipe courtesy of Chef Susur Lee

1 1/2 lb pork tenderloin, about 2 to 3 
1 rib celery, finely chopped
1 medium carrot, finely chopped
1 medium onion, finely chopped 
1 tbsp fresh minced ginger
5 strips of orange zest
2/3 cup rice cooking wine 
1/3 cup soy sauce 
1/3 cup pure maple syrup
2 tbsp dark Asian sesame oil

Trim the tenderloins of any excess fat or sinew. Combine the celery, carrot, onion, ginger, tangerine zest, sherry, soy sauce, maple syrup, and 1 tablespoon of the sesame oil in a nonreactive baking dish and stir to mix. Add the tenderloins, turning to coat. Cover and let marinate in the refrigerator, for 24 to 48 hours, turning occasionally.

Preheat the grill to medium-high. Remove the tenderloins from the marinade and blot dry with paper towels. Strain the marinade into a small nonreactive saucepan and bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Boil the marinade until thick and syrupy, about 5 to 8 minutes. When ready to cook, brush the tenderloins with the remaining 1 tablespoon of sesame oil. Arrange the tenderloins on the hot grate and grill, turning with tongs, until the the pork is browned on all sides and cooked through, about 16 to 20 minutes. Start brushing the tenderloins with the reduced marinade after 10 minutes. When tested with an instant-read meat thermometer, the temperature should register at least 160°F when the pork is done.

Transfer the tenderloins to a cutting board and let rest for 5 minutes. Cut each tenderloin on the diagonal into 1/2-inch slices. Fan the slices out on plates or a platter and serve with any remaining marinade.

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