Bespoke Japanese Vegetarian Dining
Location: 91 Bencoolen Street, #01-50 Sunshine Plaza
Opening Hours: Daily 11.30am-3.00pm & 5.30pm-10.00pm
Comparisons are inevitably going to be made with Zen Japanese, which at one time was one of the most popular vegetarian restaurants in Singapore. Menu wise, there are a lot of similar dishes being offered at Bespoke. If anything, Bespoke’s menu is even more vast, compared to Zen. Price wise, it is also very similar to Zen. There was only one dish currently unavailable, which was the unagi – Which, ironically, was the dish I was most eager to try. Even without the unagi, this is an incredibly diverse and detailed menu, which will leave you spoilt for choice.
One big positive that Bespoke currently has is their staff, the waiter is kind and friendly, and was very patient in adjusting the food to suit my vegan needs. After completing our order, the waiter recommended that their Traditional Ocha (green tea) would make for an ideal accompaniment to our food. This tea is apparently made from the traditional loose Japanese green tea leaves. Quite frankly, I couldn’t taste a big difference compared to just a regular green tea teabag – But I’ll take their word for it that these are special leaves. Seven dollars entitles you to unlimited refills.
Price: $7.00. 7/10
For vegan customers, you will find that a lot of the dishes contain dairy (usually in the form of mayo), therefore be sure to check with the waiter, so that those particular ingredients can be excluded. The Avocado Maki was one such example, that has mayo (with egg) within the maki roll and dolloped on top. I asked for half to exclude mayo and half to be served as normal (as I was eating with my ovo-lacto friend). Presentation wise, all the dishes from Bespoke are beautifully displayed on the plate, special care was taken in cutting the avocado into thin strips, which looked picture perfect. Inside the maki was mock sashimi, mock prawn, cucumber and nori. The dish tasted subtle, fresh and creamy (thanks to the avocado). Most importantly, the rice texture was firm and not over-cooked. An impressive start to the meal.
Price: $12.00. 9/10
Bespoke has a number of set meals, that go up as high as $36. I went for the Green Tea Soba Set, which was one of the more affordable set meals. Portion wise, it was definitely big (not big enough for the Hungry Ang Mo, but for someone with ‘normal’ stomach space, I am sure it would be enough). The focal point of the dish is the green tea soba, which was absolutely delicious. The soup was flavourful (some may find it too salty – For me it was fine) and ingredients well cooked – I especially loved the tempura batter bits that were swimming inside. The other components to the set included stir-fried vegetables (cooked magnificently), sushi, salad, green tea pudding (non-vegan) and rather oddly, a cheese and tomato fried spring roll (non-vegan) – Which seemed a little out of place, if you ask me.
Price: $18.00. 8/10
I ordered several other dishes, which the chef simply put together on one plate, so let us go through them now…
My first selection was the Smoked Duck with Mushroom. This dish consists of layers of mock duck and king oyster mushroom, which were then drizzled in a dark, rich, mildly sweet and (too) salty sauce. The mushrooms were cooked perfectly and packed with juice. The ‘duck’ slices were a little too salty, but did have good smokey flavour. When consuming the mock duck, it reminded me of the thin BBQ pork strips that are sold in such barbaric abundance in Singapore.
Price: $12.00. 7/10
Next up was the Beancurd with Natto. Natto is highly controversial, with most people detesting the taste of it. For all the debate on the taste, no one can deny the health benefits of these fermented soya beans. For this dish, the natto is sandwiched in between two thin triangular beancurd sheets. When dunked into the special yuzu sauce, the taste was definitely decent. However, I found the portion size was definitely too small to justify the price.
Price: $6.00. 6/10
Probably the most disappointing dish of the evening was the Teriyaki Chicken. The major reason for this was the salt level in the dish. Not only the sauce, but the mock meat itself had way too much salt content. I also found that just two skewers was a little merciless, considering the price tag. The positives were that the mock meat was well charred, and (minus the salt) did have good flavour. Not a dish that I would consider ordering again though.
Price: $6.00. 5/10
Conclusion – Bespoke would benefit from better marketing, otherwise I am worried for their future. The Japanese vegetarian market has the potential to be hugely successful in Singapore, but Bespoke need to know how to sell their strengths first. With no facebook, website, clear restaurant name – It will be difficult for them to gather attention from the public. With that being said, I was definitely impressed with the food they were selling. I guess this makes their lack of marketing all the more frustrating, because I firmly believe these dishes deserve to be enjoyed by the mass population.
For my SECOND Bespoke review – Click HERE!
Food – 8/10
Service – 9/10
Value – 6/10