Published on Tuesday, 04 June 2013 00:00
If you’re one of the many jumping on the fitness bandwagon, you’re in for a gastronomical treat! No, you won’t risk putting back on the calories you lost at the gym, neither will you have to break your strict health diet to indulge in orgasmic gastronomy. What’s this sorcery, you ask? We present to you; 藤(Teng) Bespoke Vegetarian Dining.
“TENG offers 100% vegetarian but very authentic Japanese cuisine, served in a pleasant and unpretentious setting. No alcohol, MSG, egg, onion or garlic is used in any of the dishes and the ingredients are finely selected and of premium quality. Bring along a group and share a number of items, such as the delicious tempura, grilled skewers or delight in the very colourful and flavour-rich Salmon Avocado Sushi.”
I hate my vegetables and I detest eating healthy food, they are horrid, bland and totally unsatisfactory. I love my meat, and I shy away from any form of greens. I have never had vegetarian Japanese cuisine before and I immediately assumed that I would loathe their dishes, but I was pleasantly proven wrong.
The restaurant is located in the heart of Sunshine Plaza. It is probably the biggest and the most spacious of the other eateries that are situated there. Teng’s interior is beautifully furnished for a relaxing and cozy ambience, they play many classic love songs, and their staff is always all smiles and warm friendly greetings. However, façade all aside, the most important aspect of a restaurant is always their food. Let me jump the gun and assure you that it does not disappoint.
Teng has a huge selection of dishes to choose from. Like massive. Seriously, their food menu is voluminous from all 42 pages of dishes. It’s not very often that you come across a restaurant with so many varieties of food to choose from. The menu is lavished with gorgeously taken photographs of every dish and every ingredient is specially flown in from Japan. We were spoilt for choice and with the recommendation of the outlet’s owner, we ordered a spread of 11 different dishes and one drink. I noticed that they take special attention to the presentation of all their dishes, every dish that came looked so appealing and picture-perfect.
1. Avocado Salad, $10
The avocado salad makes a really good appetiser to whet your appetite and keep you eager for more food to fill your belly. The salad is in no way stingy with its ingredients; big chunks of ripe avocado slices that are soft yet firm, tender tofu cubes, fresh organic arugula and lettuce that seem to have been just plucked from a secret garden, all these drizzled with a lip-smacking sesame sauce and topped off with dried seaweed.
2. Japanese Seaweed Fried Rice, $8
You can’t have Asian cuisine without a plate of rice. You simply can’t. It’s like an Asian dining faux pas. Same thing as how you simply can’t go to Teng and not order a plate of their mouth-watering Japanese Seaweed Rice. The Japanese Seaweed Fried Rice with the slight saltiness of the seaweed complemented the fried Japanese rice so well that I would have gobbled up the whole plate if I did not restrain myself. It was only the second dish and I had to save room for other dishes.
3. Nattou Fried Rice, $8
Nattou is a traditional Japanese food (duh! It’s a Japanese restaurant, what did you think?) made from fermented soybeans rich in protein and full of health benefits (that I can’t exactly remember, so go Google it yourself). The nattou fried rice is faintly sticky from the nattou beans, it has a savoury nutty flavour to it and it tastes like someone ripped the tits off all you know about conventional fried rice, but somehow still made it crazily delicious in its own way.
4. Mix Vege Tempura, $8
This dish consists of different varieties of vegetables deep fried in vegetable oil to a perfect golden crisp. I particularly liked how the consistency of the tempura batter and the Enokitake mushrooms came together; crispy on the outside and soft and moist when you bite into the mushrooms. The tempura sauce is amazingly well done too; it contains just the right level of saltiness to flavour the deep fried vegetables.
5. Three Kind Sashimi, $18
It might seem like a pretty hefty pricetag to pay for a few slices of sashimi, but remember that this is a total vegetarian restaurant. Throw everything you know about vegetarian food and mock meat out of the window because this revolutionary dish will blow your mind. You will never be able to imagine how this all vegetarian sashimi replicates the exact fish sashimi to an almost flawless art until you actually taste it for yourself. The three different types of mock sashimi are garnished with vegetables and served on a bamboo platform with a bed of crushed ice underneath to prevent it from warming up.
6. Salmon Maki, $12
The Salmon Maki is a set of 8 pieces of cut rolls that is made up of avocado, mock salmon, cucumber and nori rolled into rice, coated with a top layer of mock chicken floss and finished off with a dollop of vegan mayonnaise and a few squirts of teriyaki sauce. The salty-sweetness of the teriyaki sauce, the smooth and creamy mayonnaise and the powdery mock chicken floss created a spectacular combination of flavours along with the rest of its ingredients.
7. Avocado Maki, $12
You can tell how much detail went into creating this dish. Thin slices of avocado are meticulously arranged on top to form a wavy pattern with a drop of mayonnaise on each roll, and the ingredients inside include mock salmon, mock prawn, cucumber and nori. The beautiful presentation of this dish did not supersede its taste as how you might assume to be. In fact, the wonderful display of the Avocado Maki went along hand in hand with its fresh and creamy flavour. It is a light, refreshing dish that is subtly mushy due to the avocado, springy from the salmon and prawn, and crunchy from the cucumber. Another variation of a perfect infusion of different ingredients to produce a yummy maki!
8. Tofu Cake, $6
Before the Tofu Cake is served to you, the chef deep fries 2 pieces of tofu to create a thin layer of golden skin on the outside, it is then soaked in a bath of mushroom sauce to allow the tofu to absorb the mushroom-y goodness of it. Tofu normally is boringly bland, but they prepare their Tofu Cake in such a way that the entire tofu is saturated with the specially prepared mushroom gravy, and every bite into the tender tofu is a burst of juicy flavour. The tofu has a melt-in-your-mouth consistency and goes great with the soft little mushrooms they include with the dish.
9. Deep Fried Shitake Mushroom with Cream, $12
Deep fried shitake mushrooms smothered with a delicious cream, blanketed by layers of cheese melted to perfection by a blowtorch, and teriyaki sauce dribbled over. Be expected to get a shot of cream and cheese squirt into your mouth as you bite down into the mushroom. When I chowed down onto a mushroom, my tongue felt like jumping up and doing a happy, little dance, the succulent dish just explodes with an array of orgasmic flavours and textures that took me out of this world. This heavenly creamy, gooey, melty dish is my favourite of all the other dishes and I found it exceptionally hard to control myself from picking up the plate and licking up the cheese and cream that have leaked out onto the plate. If I could have married it, I would.
10. Smoked Duck with Mushroom, $12
One of Teng’s signature dishes, this dish consists of alternating layers of mock smoked duck and king oyster mushrooms with their dark, rich, salty-sweet teriyaki sauce liberally poured over. You are supposed to eat a layer of smoked duck together with a layer of mushroom to get the whole impact of the ingenious combination. The mock smoked duck has a similar texture to the real deal and the chef even managed to get the whole smokey flavour down pat. The mushrooms are marvellously cooked; tender and packed with juice. Just a little warning though, you have to finish this dish fast, if not the mushrooms will get tough when cooled and will not have the same tenderness as when freshly cooked. The slightly charred edges of the duck and mushrooms are a perfect touch to the overall taste of this dish.
11. Fine Wheat Noodle, $10
Skip the usual green tea soba noodles and order this Fine Wheat Noodle for a change. If you used to love your green tea soba noodles, consider yourself converted when you gulp down this cold dish. Served chilled, the Fine Wheat Noodle comes along with small portions of wasabi, ginger and seaweed for you to mix in with your cup of dipping sauce which you dunk your noodles in before slurping them up. These special white noodles are smooth and silky, they slide down easily and is sweeter and more flavourful than regular soba. The dipping sauce is delicious and tasty, it is neither too salty nor too sweet. Don’t forget to add the seaweed, ginger and wasabi accordingly to your preference.
12. Mocha Chip Blended, $6.80
Forget about going to Starbucks to get your ice-blended coffee fix because this mocha will usurp all the ice-blended coffees you ever had. Prepared by a professional barista, the Mocha Chip Blended makes an excellent drink for chocoholics and coffee-lovers, it is thick, rich, chocolatey and packs a caffeine kick. With sprays of chocolate syrup, a pouf of whipped cream and sprinkles of chocolate chips, this drink makes an ideal dessert to finish off with your meal.
During the course of the meal, we had a pot of hot Japanese Green Tea, $7 to wash down the food and aid with digestion. Just order one pot of the green tea to share among a group and you will be able to ask the waiter for unlimited refills.
Definitely no effort has been spared in the sourcing of the best ingredients at Teng. The culinary philosophy at Teng is the all-Japan-imported ingredients, utmost attention to presentation, unparalleled service and food that will create an explosion of delight for your taste buds.
I cannot emphasize enough how I was completely taken aback by Teng’s dishes that tasted nothing like how I would have imagined vegetarian food to be. In fact, while I was busy devouring every dish, it slipped my mind that all these were made purely from vegetables. I was too preoccupied with stuffing my face with their glorious food that my brain refused to believe that I’m actually eating grub that contained no meat at all.
Perhaps all this raving might sound a little bit over the top, but I could not help being awe-struck at how the restaurant’s food left me feeling more than satisfied after the meal especially when I had pre-conceived notions that the food would turn out either horrible or mediocre. Well, I was terribly proven wrong and I am deeply humbled by this experience at Teng. Never again will I look with distaste at vegetarian food, I have developed a new found respect for it. Teng Bespoke Vegetarian Dining; this brand new food establishment has truly proven at being able to make their customers’ bellies happy despite them being vegetarians or non-vegetarians.
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藤 | Bespoke Vegetarian Dining
Address: Sunshine Plaza, 91 Bencoolen Street #01-50, Singapore 189652
Telephone No.: +65 6337 7050
Operating Hours: Monday – Sunday (including public holidays), 11.30am – 3.00pm, 5.30pm – 10.00pm
Check out the images below of their food and drinks menu.