Bent 647.352.0092 http://www.bentrestaurant.com/ dinner Tues-Sat No Reservations
Bent, chef Susur Lee’s newest venture, is one of the most exciting new restaurants to open in Toronto. The menu seems to focus on cold and warm dishes inspired by Japanese Asian cuisine. The décor is kitschy Asian with white ceramic tiles, antique wood tabletops and chairs and an interesting wall of tiny toy figurines. I arrived shortly after opening on a Tuesday and the space filled up very quickly.
First up some cocktails; the Asian Caesar – drinks like a meal – with Sobieski Vodka, Clamato, chili oil, Sriracha, coriander, hosin, soya, sesame seed, ginger, house rim garnished with a pickled radish, and a floral tasting Gin Sour created with Bombay, peach schnapps, amaretto, fresh sour housemade lime cordial, cinnamon and a sugary tart preserved cherry. The sake list is truly intriguing, forego the wines and choose a warm glass of Sho Chiku Bai or an unpasteurized Bent x Izumi House Blend.
Homemade pickled vegetables impress with crunchy fennel, jalapeno, cucumber, turnip, red radish and yellow hot mustard. Peruvian Style Ceviche is colourful and beautiful; however, not plated the way one would expect. And Large slices of white snapper are masked by spice and the mussels and clams seem a bit stiff.
A four piece Nigiri tasting is up next, served with crunchy housemade ginger and freshly grated wasabi. Hamachi is buttery with great texture. The European wild snapper is smoky showcases the Shiso leaf at its best. Unfortunately the Magoro is undistinguished, and the sockeye salmon a tad fishy. Tartare presented two ways: spicy tuna with avocado sits on a chewy rice-cake alongside creamy salmon with shallots, capers, gherkin and citrus; beautifully plated but difficult to share. Spicy coconut shrimp swim is a rich green curry broth with tomato, sweet corn, squash, mint and cilantro, finishing with a hint of sweetness.
Chef’s crudo with Argan oil, fresh black pepper, calamansi lime and sea salt is a delight – the fish texture like butter combining with the sauce opens ones senses – very well executed. Dessert arrives complete (and complimentary) with an almond cookie, custard and a savory-sweet riceball.