When is a Restaurant More Than a Restaurant?

Tease by CreatureS is an unusual restaurant in an unusual setting. And it begs the question, when is a restaurant more than a restaurant.

Located on a back street just down the road from the eye-catching Romanesque St. Joseph’s Church in Wangfujing, Beijing, Tease by CreatureS is on the first floor of a unique housing concept called Stey Wangfujing.

Upon our arrival, we were first given a quick tour of Stey, which is a new startup that promises minimalistic and functional communal housing designed for young professionals. While I won’t go into too much detail, I did want to give a quick introduction to this concept as I found it really interesting and surprisingly well-executed.

The interior of these spaces were very Scandinavian – clean, modern and well-designed with furniture that can move around and hidden closet spaces that can be converted into desk spaces, etc.  They offer two sized apartments – one studio and one slightly larger apartment with an incorporated living room space with a lounge area that can be separated from its bedroom. If you’re wondering, the bathrooms in both apartments are gorgeous. In addition to your personal bedroom and living space, Stey residences offer communal lounges, a large kitchen, laundry room, gym and 24/7 security and check-in. Stey is somewhere of a cross between a hotel, a student dorm, a community centre and a traditional block of flats. I guess a major perk is that they have a regular cleaning service and they’ll even help you to manage any Air BnB bookings for you if you’re traveling for a short or longer extended stay. This is an ideal set-up for individuals new to Beijing, keen to meet others and in a job where regular travel is necessary.

“A design driven co-living space developed by White Peak, a Swedish real estate developer that focuses on the Chinese market, Stey looks to bring a new solution to China’s urban living, and create a multi-purpose space that provides high-quality, multi-functional and flexible residence for urbanites living a hectic life.” – About Stey

Main Entrance of Stey Wangfujing

(Stay tuned for their next opening in Sanlitun!)

Studio Apartment

Larger Apartment with Separated Living Space from Bedroom

Larger Apartment’s Bathroom with Luxurious Bathtub & Glass Shower

Communal Lounge Space

Communal Open Kitchen & Dining Area

Communal Gym (there’s also a communal laundry room)

While Stey is certainly an interesting model, our focus of this article will still be about the restaurant in hand, Tease by CreatureS!

From the original team that opened the award winning restaurant brand CreatureS in Singapore, Tease is the group’s first venture in China. Offering innovative modern Singaporean cuisine (Mod-Sin), their Executive Chef Jardine D’Cruz and Head Pastry Chef Jacob Justus also make an effort to pay homage to Beijing by incorporating the “essence of Beijing” into their menu while “teasing your senses and palette with creature comforts”.

“Tease is here to introduce the concept of “soul food” – food that not only delights the taste buds but also comforts the soul, food that you want to share with your friends and family, and food that speaks “home”. In the fast-pace urban life style that we live in today where we constantly long for comfort, humour and playfulness, who wouldn’t love a mouthful of “soul food” and a bit of “Tease” to tingle and trigger a pleasant sensation?”

Photo Courtesy of Tease by CreatureS

While many of their dishes are straight-up Southeast Asian like their Beef Rendang and Traditional Peranakan Laksa, Beijingers will certainly be delighted by their Tofu Blooms dish, which is a nod to the classic dish pidan doufu 皮蛋豆腐. I also appreciated seeing Fried Mantou served alongside Babi Pongteh (Peranakan style Braised Pork Belly) to soak up all the spicy gravy.  They also created their own rendition of the classic French Opera Cake titled “The Peking Opera”, with passionfruit, raspberry puree and a colorful exterior inspired by Peking opera masks.

Beyond their Mod-Sin restaurant menu, Tease is also home to La-Bar-Atory cocktail bar. But unlike your average cocktail bar, these bartenders are more like alcohol scientists and chemists where they distill, ferment, age and extract flavors from unique ingredients and infuse these creative concoctions into their cocktail recipes.

La-Bar-Atory Craft Cocktail Bar

From the progressive living model of Stey to the innovative food and beverage menus by Tease and La-Bar-Atory, there is a lot going on here! But we’re here to give you the skinny as we walk you through our dining experience at Tease by CreatureS and La-Bar-Atory.

Sichuan Pepper Crispy Chicken Skin & Crispy Lotus Root Slivers

These two nibbles are perfect as a bar snack to accompany your aperitif or to keep you busy while you wait for the rest of your party to arrive. Both are crispy and savoury – so much better than your average chips with dip or bread and butter.

Babi Pongteh with Fried Mantou

The pork belly had a decent spicy kick and good flavour to go with it, but the texture was unusually tough. We actually thought it was beef before we read that it was meant to be pork belly on the menu. As pork belly, this should be ultra tender and melt-in-your-mouth, which was not the case here. The addition of fried mantou is a clever “Beijing touch” and perfect to dip into this savoury gravy. But we were careful not too fill up on the mantou as this was the only the first of many dishes to come.

Hainan Chicken Rice Roll

The Hainan Chicken rice rolls are an ingenious idea, and one that I truly hope they get the execution sorted on. I absolutely love Hainan chicken rice and will go out of my way to find a place that does this classic dish justice, so I was pretty excited about this creative twist. Though it had a lot of potential, the rice in the roll was undercooked so it was too hard and the ratio of cucumber, chicken and rice was off. All I tasted was the cold, hard tasteless rice and their homemade spring onion-ginger dip didn’t have nearly enough ginger which normally adds that zing to this subtle dish.

The Tofu Blooms

The Tofu Blooms, on the other hand, was something I’d come back and definitely order again. Combining preserved egg 皮蛋 with soft Japanese tofu with a bit of tobiko on top, this dish is really tasty and has a nice balance of flavors and textures. While it was definitely a dish that resonated with me, my dining partner didn’t care much for it, but he also doesn’t care much for tofu or pidan in general. But I definitely think that Beijingers who order this dish will appreciate how Tease has adapted this classic Chinese dish.

Miso Cod & Nanya Herbed Rice

This miso cod was lovely. The oven-roasted fish was well-cooked and the umami miso marinade gave it a sweet coating. The Belachan herbed rice balls were a nice accompaniment, along with the refreshing cucumber salad.

Traditional Peranakan Laksa

This large, steaming bowl of Laksa came with a generous portion of large prawns, quail eggs, and tender chicken thigh. There was also a scoop of spicy sauce for guests to mix in at their discretion. While this coconut laksa broth had a spicy kick, it lacked the complexity and depth of flavor of a truly authentic laksa broth.

Kampung Beef Rendang

The star of the Tease dining show was this gorgeous beef Rendang which was tender, but more importantly abundantly flavourful! Each bite was flavor-packed and this is one of those dishes that morphs in your mouth. It may sound strange but the initial taste reminded me of American BBQ, but then the sweetness quickly takes on a more savory edge and finishes with a hit of spice.

Tease Chocolate Cake

We’d heard good things about the desserts by Tease and weren’t disappointed. Their signature dark chocolate cake is served on a rich, homemade salted caramel sauce and a scoop of coconut sorbet. The flavour combo here is very indulgent, and sure to satiate your chocoholic cravings. Though the flavors were all on point, my only qualm is that our cake was a little dry, but the chocolate sauce was so rich and gooey that it made up for the lack of moistness in the cake itself.

POP!corn

This dessert was surprisingly good, but I also wasn’t quite sure what to expect until the first bite and the multiple layers leaves you wondering where to even begin! The base has popcorn mousse with caramelized popcorn bits and their homemade sea salt caramel sauce. The top of the cup is covered by a corn and peanut cookie with more mousse and burnt corn husk and a corn chip. While there is a lot going on, the end result is a dessert that has a lovely sweet nutty flavour with a mix of sticky, crunchy textures that may be terrible for your teeth but a party of fun in your mouth.

The Peking Opera

The Peking Opera is inspired by the colorful Peking Opera masks, and is their twist on the classic French opera cake. The presentation of this dessert is really beautiful, but rather than resemble a Peking Opera Mask (I don’t see it, do you?), it looks like a precious stone! Unlike the other 2 desserts we tried, this one is for those who love their sweet with their sour. The raspberry and passionfruit zips through your mouth and is then calmed by the sweet cream that encapsulates it.

Lemongrass & Galangal Margarita

Throughout our meal, we tasted our way through a handful of the cocktails from La-Bar-Atory, which really ran the gamut! The Lemongrass & Galangal Margarita isn’t too wild, whereas the Fruit Cake Punch (RMB 118) with Mongolian milk tea, fermented garlic gin, macadamia syrup and cream cheese foam (not pictured) is an adult version of the fruit teas topped with cream that have spread like wildfire throughout the land.

Lychee Martini & Pei Pa Gao Soother

While the lychee martini is pretty standard, we then enter interesting territory with the Pei Pa Gao Soother. I actually used to drink spoonfuls of Pei Pa Gao whenever I had a hoarse throat, so this cocktail just tastes like Chinese medicine to me. While I definitely give the bartenders credit for boldly using such a strong TCM flavor in a cocktail, this just was not for me.

Kelp! Etoh Emergency with Seaweed Tequila, Clarified Tomato Juice, Bonito & Kumquat Foam, Pomelo Miso Ice Cube (RMB 98)

This kelp cocktail was more experimental still, and I think you’ll know if you’re the kind of person who should order this as soon as you see the ingredients.

Farmer’s Spring with Sticky Rice & Pu’er Vodka, Elderflower Liqueur & Peach Liqueur (RMB 98)

I had mixed feelings about this one as it tasted quite bad when it was first brought to our table. Overly strong. But after about 2 minutes, our bartender came back and topped up the cocktail with tonic water and gave it a stir, which did make a big difference.  I’m not sure if this was the bar’s fault or if the server was supposed to stir it in for effect at the table and just forgot – probably just a blip from this soft opening period. Either way, the presentation is very clever and the final cocktail (post tonic water) was actually quite good.

Madame Butterfly Blue Lemongrass Latte & Salted Caramel Latte

Finally, your night cap. The blue lemongrass latte was awesome. I really enjoyed this drink and it is very “social media-able” with it’s pale blue hue and pretty flowers.

The salted caramel latte was a little much for me, but I’m also not the type to order a coffee post-dinner as I wouldn’t be able to sleep.

Overall, Tease is off to a promising start. Some of the dishes aren’t quite there in execution, and a couple need some tweaks on the recipe, but there are also some stunners like the Beef Rendang where the depth of flavour is really impressive and their desserts were each like an art piece- there was so much thought and creativity that went into both the bold flavors and stand-out presentation.

Add to that a quality bar with some really interesting experimental cocktails and you have a great venue for a memorable dinner!

While Tease by CreatureS and La-Bar-Atory are both making a huge effort to be innovative and quirky, perhaps some of their ideas are a bit too far-fetched. While it wasn’t given to us on our visit during their soft opening period, we did hear that the bar menu is going to be visible only when you use a UV torch, which seems really inefficient for the user trying to order a cocktail and, dare I say, overly pretentious. On that note, I still don’t know why the S in CreatureS is capitalized even after reading their website which leaves me to assume that they focus too much on these gimmicks that contribute nothing to the said core function of the restaurant rather than just concentrating on delivering exceptional dishes and cocktails.

Hopefully, by the time you’ve read this review and made your way over, the creases will have been ironed out and the food and drinks will be given the chance to show that they are worth it!

Tease by CreatureS Contact Details:

  • Address: F1, Stey Wangfujing, 15 Baishu Hutong, Dongcheng District, Beijing 
  • 地址:东城区柏树胡同15号Stey公寓一层
  • Tel: +86 010 8635 5376
  • Business Hours: Monday-Friday from 11AM-10PM, Saturday-Sunday from 10:30AM-10:30PM
  • Website: http://tease.today/home/

 

About Kristen
Kristen Lum has an accomplished background in PR, communications and events in China. Born and raised in California, Kristen has been based in Beijing since 2006 and is founder of the lifestyle blog called LumDimSum, covering mostly restaurant news and reviews alongside upcoming events around town that relate to Beijing’s muti-faceted, quickly-developing creative industries like art, music, film, health and fitness, fashion, nightlife, charity events, and travel tips.

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