I’m not usually a big fan of Asian fusion but if there’s one person who can get it right, it’s definitely Susur Lee. Bent (@BentRestaurant), which is just over a year old, was opened by Susur and his sons Kai and Levi Bent-Lee. It’s quite the family affair as the space was designed and named after Brenda Bent, Susur’s wife and mother of Kai and Levi.
The restaurant is located on Dundas street, two blocks west of Bathurst. It’s a great space with white tiled walls, wooden tables and kitschy décor.
The Asian-inspired tapas menu is seafood-heavy and divided into several sections – “To Start”, oysters, sushi/sashimi, ceviche, veg, poultry, hot kitchen and sweets. As most dishes are meant to be shared between two to four people, our server recommended doing the chef’s tasting for our group of six.
For the tasting, they bring out a number of different dishes from their menu which are portioned out perfectly for the number of people in your party. I highly recommend doing this if you’ve got a party larger than four since some of the dishes we saw going by wouldn’t have been easy to share with a larger group. Our server told us the cost would start at $50 since it really depends on how hungry your group is. If you’re still hungry after they’ve served all the planned dishes, you can let your server know and they’ll prepare more dishes which will add to the $50/person base.
Our meal started off with an Oyster Sake Shot – with shallots, ponzu, ginger & marinated salmon pearls which definitely gets points for presentation. It came with a small wooden stick to stir with before shooting it back. It was a nice refreshing bite to kick start the meal.
Up next were the Lobster Tacos – chipotle charred onion tomato salsa, mango, avocado & taro shell. I’ve eaten my fair share of tacos in the city and these tacos set themselves apart from the others with their delicious taro shell. The shell was filled with a tasty mixture of salsa, sweet mango and chunks of lobster. It’s a fun dish but tough to eat elegantly!
One of my favourite dishes of the evening was the Truffled Japanese Beef Carpaccio – garlic potato shoestrings, shaved red onion, Asian pear, shitake mushrooms & ponzu. I have absolutely nothing negative to say about this dish. The beef was incredibly tender and the combination of the crunchy shoestring potatoes, red onion and ponzu was perfection.
Next up was the Black Pepper Charred Salmon – fennel-chili relish, pumpkin seed oil & toasted pumpkin seeds which came from the sashimi section of the menu. I can’t say I’m a huge fan of fennel and pumpkin seeds so this wasn’t one of my favourite dishes. Mike, on the other hand, loved the flavour combination and enjoyed it more than the beef carpaccio. To each their own!
Following the salmon was the Pressed Poached Octopus Romesco – with a Lyonnaise potato salad. The octopus was prepared in a way I had never seen before. Since the octopus was pressed, they were essentially sheets of thinly-sliced octopus which looked like a little mosaic. The tender octopus was perfectly cooked and came with a delicious side of hazelnut mousse (which the server described as a hazelnut hummus). Sitting underneath the octopus was a lightly dressed potato salad which complimented the octopus nicely.
From the veg section of the menu, they served us the Kale + Tofu Salad – kale, marinated miso tofu, heirloom tomatoes, grated Asian pear, Gobo, ginger, crispy seaweed & sesame dressing. The salad was lightly dressed and I particularly enjoyed the addition of the crispy seaweed and delicious heirloom tomatoes. I personally found the kale a little tough but maybe I just prefer my kale cooked.
Up next were the Crispy Chicken Dumplings – with roasted chorizo, maple & smoked chili lime glaze and parmesan emulsion which would be a great dish to order with a group. As advertised, the dumplings certainly had a crisp exterior and while the filling was solid, the two accompanying sauces and ridiculously addictive chorizo stole the show. The server mentioned that the chef encouraged double dipping with the sauces… and I can assure you, I took their advice!
We were then served some Spiced Fried Oysters – calamansi chili dip, spicy ginger flower mayo, Belgian endive & crispy onion rings. These oysters were enormous! I don’t prefer large oysters but when they’re being deep fried, I find large ones work better. These oysters had a nice crisp batter on them and were very juicy on the inside.
As we were nearing the end of our meal, we were presented with two pasta dishes, the first being the Shrimp Ravioli – local corn & pepper compote and cognac lobster bisque. It looked and smelled incredible and I could feel my friends’ hungry eyes on me telling me to hurry it up as I snapped a few photos.
The plump ravioli was packed full of shrimp – not much filler in these bad boys. The taste of it actually reminded me of a har gow but with a skin of pasta instead. The ravioli itself was tasty but the sauce really elevated the dish. Delish!
Our second pasta dish was the Short Rib Cannelloni Gratinee – red pepper & garlic sauce and gorgonzola crumble which I actually enjoyed even more than the ravioli.
The cannelloni consisted of tender pulled short rib stuffed in sheets of rolled pasta. The red pepper and garlic sauce was ridiculously good and while I’m not a big fan of gorgonzola, it was quite mild (thankfully!). Each bite was packed full of flavour. A must-order!
Our meal ended with a Tong Yuen – chocolate, nut ganache & crème anglaise for dessert. These bite-sized dessert balls are made with a glutinous flour skin (similar to mochi) and are typically filled with black sesame or chopped nuts.
These tong yuen were filled with a melty chocolate filling with some nuts to add a bit of texture. I thought this was a perfect bite to end off the meal.
We all agreed that this was a good amount of food which ended up costing $50 per person. We weren’t stuffed to the brim but we definitely left satisfied.
Overall, we had an excellent meal. With the number of dishes we tried, there’s no doubt that some dishes were better than others but on the whole, we were all impressed. Like myself, my friends were all a little hesitant when I brought them to an Asian fusion restaurant but Susur’s magic definitely changed their minds!
At a glance:
• Brought to you by Susur Lee and his sons Kai and Levi Bent-Lee
• Serving up Asian-inspired tapas dishes; the menu has a large focus on seafood
• Dishes are best shared amongst 2-4 people; for larger groups, the chefs tasting (starting at $50/person) is recommended as the dishes will be portioned out for the number of people in your party
• Located on Dundas, just west of Bathurst
• Open Tuesday to Saturday for dinner starting at 6pm; Takes reservations
• Not usually a fan of Asian fusion but we all really enjoyed our meal here
• Highlights: Truffled Japanese beef carpaccio and short rib cannelloni
Ratings (out of 5):
• Food: 4 stars
• Service: 4 stars
• Atmosphere: 4 stars