TEAK RESTAURANT

ADDRESS: 64 Monmouth Street, Red Bank, NJ 07701

WEBSITE: https://www.teakrestaurant.com/

Every year during the Thanksgiving holiday, my high school friends and I often have a tradition to get together on Black Friday to hang out and catch up. Last month, my friends Bryan, Katie, Julie, and myself all decided to venture into Red Bank to meet up. We threw around a few ideas for restaurants, but eventually settled on making a reservation to Teak.

Teak Restaurant is an Asian fusion and sushi bar spot that has been in Red Bank for quite some time. I remember when growing up in the area, we would walk around Red Bank and pass by the place. It had been on my list of places that I’d wanted to try for quite a while, but the opportunity had never presented itself until now.

Red Bank itself was super packed, no surprise with people in town for the holidays out and about, getting in either some shopping at local businesses or getting together to meet with other friends and family (like we were doing). The restaurant itself also had a pretty good crowd inside as well, likely other people wanting to get a bite to eat to take a break from Black Friday shopping.

The menu offerings were certainly eclectic, with the Asian dishes primarily drawing from Thai, Japanese, Korean, and Chinese influences. There were small plate offerings like edamame, dumplings, or salads, or you could try some of their signature sushi roll combinations (which had some flavor combinations I hadn’t seen before). If you were in the mood for a larger portion, you could get a full-sized entrée, which consisted of noodle or rice options, along with some main protein offerings, such as grilled salmon, braised short rib, or teriyaki chicken.

Since we were opting for an early dinner, we decided to get a few of the different dishes and split it at the table, family-style. We picked out three of the small plates: the Crispy Brussel Sprouts, Short Rib Empanadas, and Lotus Buns. To add to that, we went for two of the sushi rolls: the Crazy Monkey Roll and Tick Tock Roll.

If you’ve read my other reviews before, you’ll know that I am a fan of a contemporary décor style that also integrates other elemental themes into it. With Teak, that was certainly no exception, with the restaurant itself using primarily a black / light beige / gray color scheme while incorporating a mix of wood and bamboo elements for the tables and floor. In addition, the main dining area had tall windows on all three of the walls, so there was plenty of natural light that was able to come in. When it got darker, there were plenty of light fixtures, some recessed into the ceiling and then other drop-down decorative ones, that helped to emit warm temperature lighting. It was definitely great for either a casual get-together or a more intimate evening.

The Short Rib Empanadas and Lotus Buns arrived out to the table, and of the two, the Lotus Buns definitely had the edge in terms of the visual factor. There was the color contrast between the plate, the bun, the glazed pork belly, and cucumber, so that was definitely drawing me in. While the flavor of the Hoisin glaze on the pork belly really helped to provide that strong hit of sweet and savory flavor, one of the bao buns was oversteamed and ended up being soggy on the outside. This caused it to tear and stick to your fingers when you tried to pick it up, which definitely detracted from an otherwise pretty solid flavor combination.

I thought that the shredded short rib inside the empanadas were pretty good, rich with flavor while at the same time being pretty moist as well. The outer shell of the empanada was fried to a nice, crisp exterior, and the rocoto pepper dipping sauce that was served with the empanadas had a smooth texture while adding a slight kick to each bite.

Our sushi rolls and the brussel sprouts arrived not long after we had finished off our other two appetizers to complete out the back half of the food for our meal. I’ll be honest that I was not convinced of the fit of banana with sushi after trying it within the Crazy Monkey Roll. The flavor combination between the banana, the sweet potato tempura, and avocado just felt a little strange overall, with primarily all sweet flavors coming in each bite.

For the Tick Tock Roll, I thought that ended up being more on the average side, with tuna, red onion, cilantro, scallion, shiso, jalapeño, and spicy mayo all inside the roll itself. The strongest two flavors that I got from the roll ended up being the tuna and the jalapeño, with some subtle notes from the cilantro. I really didn’t get any of the red onion, scallion, shiso, or the spicy mayo flavors overall, but maybe because the jalapeño was pretty overpowering.

I think that the brussel sprouts ended up being the most popular item at the table. For something that was under the “Small Plate” section, there ended up being a pretty good amount of brussel sprouts on the plate itself. They were roasted until nice and crispy on the edges, with the earthy flavor of the vegetable complementing well with the sweet, tart flavor of the orange soy glaze. It was garnished with sesame seeds as well as some slices of another citrus fruit (perhaps yuzu?). Of all the items we tried, the brussel sprouts were definitely my favorite of the evening.

It’s a shame that the food we tried ended up falling short of expectations, because I thought that good food combined with the atmosphere at the restaurant would have made it a solid spot that I’d enjoy returning to more often (while I was in town). The sushi rolls just missed the mark for me; perhaps it might be better to explore other options on the menu aside from the sushi on subsequent visits. The restaurant definitely has a prime location right in downtown Red Bank, but at the same time, some of the more expensive pricing on the dishes reflect that as well. I don’t know if the restaurant would be near the top of the list of places I’d consider while in Red Bank (given that there are quite a few different options), but I wouldn’t mind going back if someone else made a suggestion to stop by.

Let’s now take a look at the Teak Restaurant Dish Spotlight. Asterisks (*) below mark my recommended dishes.

** Short Rib Empanadas **
Shredded short rib meat stuffed inside a crisp empanada shell. Served with rocoto pepper dipping sauce.

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** Lotus Buns **
Slow-roasted pork belly with a hoisin glaze, served on a bao bun with scallions and pickled cucumber.

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** Crispy Brussel Sprouts **
Roasted brussel sprouts with an orange soy glaze, topped with sesame seeds and citrus wedges.

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Crazy Monkey Roll
Sweet potato tempura on the inside, wrapped in black rice and topped with banana, avocado, and a plum soy drizzle.

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Tick Tock Roll
Tuna, red onion, cilantro, scallions, shiso, jalapeño, and spicy mayo on the inside.

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And finally, here are my rankings for Teak Restaurant:

Food: 3.25 / 5

While there are a pretty good array of Asian-inspired options to choose from on the menu, I think I had higher expectations of the sushi itself, but unfortunately both rolls fell a bit flat for me. The execution of the Lotus Buns appetizer, with the soggy bao bun, was also a slight disappointment as well.

Atmosphere: 4.75 / 5

The modern décor elements definitely helped to give off an ambience that blended both slightly more upscale, but still relaxed at the same time. You could stop by for a casual evening with friends or a more intimate evening out with a significant other.

Service: 4 / 5

Our waitress was nice and welcoming us to the restaurant, while at the same time stopping by several times throughout the meal to see if we needed anything else. I also thought our dishes came out in pretty good time as well.

Price: 3.5 / 5

The pricing on the food items was probably reflective of the prime location that the restaurant had within downtown Red Bank. But I also get the sense you’re paying for the atmosphere as well. Unfortunately, my enjoyment of some of the dishes did not live up to the price points, so I felt that detracted from the overall value I was getting out of what I was paying.

Overall:
15.5 / 20
(78%)

Categories: New Jersey, Restaurants

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