BEIJING, CHINA – Seeing local companies and establishments take the plunge to find success overseas is always a source of pride, and with CreatureS first foreign foray, we feel just as excited for them as a new journey begins. Having opened earlier this year in Beijing, Tease by CreatureS continues to pay homage to the Straits-Chinese restaurant’s roots and its home in China, set up in the historical alleyway of Cypress Hutong in Wangfujing, and ready to tease and cajole Chinese senses with an all-around culinary journey with reinterpreted heritage recipes.
Walking into the space on the first floor of Stey Serviced Apartments, one immediately feels the chill vibes emanating from the restaurant, its interior large and trendy, yet cosy, still feeling new and all spruced up to welcome guests. Besides the artwork on the walls (which we personally wished were more reflective of the space and culture imbued in the restaurant), a friendly bar sits within the restaurant, one which almost compels you to offer a drink from the staff. Looking at the unique drinks menu, we were pleasantly surprised at how that too was an experience in itself – we won’t go into it to much, but it must be felt to be understood.
On the concise menu, we spotted a few familiar favourites from CreatureS back home, like the Hainanese Chicken Rice Roll and Hokkien Mee. But Tease isn’t simply a one is to one transfer from Singapore to China, and features some brand new items as well. We began our meal with a side of deep fried Lotus Root served with their signature CreatureS belachan.
Having ordered one of each of their starters, we were first served their Hainanese Chicken Rice Roll. One imagines that it would be difficult to replicate the flavours precisely as what one gets in Singapore, due to the difference in availability of the spices and quality of the ingredients, and we noticed that the rolls were a lot smaller than the ones back home. Yet, the same amount of cucumber was used in each roll, making the taste of cucumber overpowers each roll, rather than the chicken or the rice, which lacked a strong enough flavour to compensate.
Our next dish was the Auspicious Five-Spice Fortune Bags, something we were absolutely looking forward to trying, as Tease’s take on the traditional ngoh hiang. This time, instead of the usual ngoh hiang skin, the filling instead takes on the appearance of a fortune bag, wrapped in beancurd skin and deep fried. The idea behind this dish was certainly different and innovative, however, the bean curd skin proved to be too thick and too distracting from the filling. Luckily, the filling, when added with belachan, was a match made in heaven – delicious and full of flavour.
We then sank our teeth into the next appetiser we had, the Beijing Ravioli, a new item on the menu we were looking forward to. Served beautifully, the raviolis were each plump, fit to bursting and cooked al-dente. Unfortunately, for all their beauty, they lacked substance and flavour once we actually ate them, with under seasoned flavours and chili oil on the plate that didn’t add anything to the dish.
We then went full Peranakan with the Babi Pongteh with Fried Mantou, and finally, we got a dish that showed off what Tease was capable of. The rempah was well pounded, smooth and full of flavour, while the pork belly was cooked so well, you could practically pull it apart easily. But what it could have done with was to serve it with a better side dish that might have helped soak up the extra rempah – the fried mantous we got were instead too hard, too oily, and wasn’t a good fit for the dish.
With The Tofu Blooms, Tease’s take on the traditional Pitan Tofu (century egg with tofu), we practically exclaimed as we saw the dish presented before us – a quintessentially CreatureS style dish, beautifully played. We learnt that the tofu was actually obtained from tofu specialists, a real delight for us to know how much effort Tease took to gain only the best ingredients to represent their recipes. While the century egg could have been more pronounced, the fresh taste of the tofu made this a dish worth trying for sure still.
Finally, we ended our appetisers with the Ikan Billis Caesar Salad. While not usually a fan of salads, this was a dish that for us, was fresh, packed full of flavor and hit the spot. While simple, it seems a stroke of genius to have used ikan billis in a Caesar salad, coupled with a sous vide egg cooked to perfection, the yellow yolk oozing out onto the salad greens when combined with their rustic homemade Caesar salad dressing, working like an absolute charm. A must-order if you’re ever here.
Moving on to the mains, we continued our meal with the Miso Cod & Nonya Herbed Rice. Cod, when cooked right, is pretty much the best fish money can buy, and Tease certainly delivered on those expectations with a must-try dish. Oily, flavourful and melt in your mouth, the miso added a good savoury taste that complemented a fatty fish like the cod, while the herbed rice helped balance out the richness of the fish.
As masters of rempah, Tease impressed with their Kampung Beef Rendang, which hits the tastebuds with punchy flavours and clean plating. The beef was well-cooked, a flavour bomb in every bite, while the butterfly pea coconut rice not only added a nice splash of blue to the plate, but also balanced out the heavier taste of the rendang.
Our last main of the meal was the Hot Wok Prawn Noodles. Oozing with luxury, we were delighted by the rich prawn stock used for the soup, while the prawns themselves were sweet and fresh. Add a dollop of their unmissable belachan, and the dish was perfect! Without a doubt the highlight of the entire meal. Before we ended with desserts, comprising their signature Chocolate Cake from Singapore, and their Beijing speciality, The Peking Opera.
In all, it was never going to be an easy task to bring a fiercely local fusion concept from Singapore to as traditional a city as Beijing. Personally, we felt that Tease could afford to be bolder, unabashedly showing off the strong Singapore flavours across the menu rather than catering towards the ‘Chinese’ palate, and allow the spices, richness, and punch of their recipes to shine completely, dishes that would go perfectly with the specialty cocktails concocted that the Chinese would definitely be interested in tasting.
There’s still a long way to go and a lot to learn for Tease, but if anything, our experience here has shown that there is plenty of potential for this restaurant to leave a lasting impact, and on its way to teasing the Beijing crowd with bold flavours and new taste profiles to prove that Singapore cuisine has a place, anywhere, anytime in the world.
Tease by CreatureS is located at No.15 Baishu Hutong, Dongcheng District, Beijing. Reserve via phone at +86 (10) 86355376, or email firstname.lastname@example.org.