Rounding out my Dine LA meals this week is Tengu in Westwood Village. I've been to the Tengu in Santa Monica, but not this location and since it's been a while since I've eaten at Tengu, I wanted to see if it was still as good as I remember. For the $22 Dine LA lunch menu you get three courses with four choices each ranging from sushi and stir fried vegetables to NY Strip steak; a great deal considering three courses at full price would normally run about $40 here.
For my first course I chose the red snapper carpaccio, served with okra, yuzu dressing, and shichimi togarashi, which came out in long strips with skin intact. I found it a bit unwielding to maneuver into my mouth until I realized I could roll the slices before picking them up with my chopsticks. (Sorry no pic, the one I took was out of focus.) The fish was fresh, the sauce was perfectly seasoned, and I could have easily eaten several of these appetizers as my main course.
For my main course I asked for the pan seared papaya NY Strip steak, with a ginger, papaya-jalapeno glaze and steamed rice. I specifically requested a VERY RARE steak and when it came out it was medium well. I showed the waiter and reminded him what I had said about doneness (cold in the center); he agreed my meat was overdone and promptly replaced it with one cooked as I had ordered. I must note that hardly any restaurant in the US ever cooks my steak as rare as I request (the one exception so far has been Pacific Dining Car), so when my replacement came out I was very happy to get my preference with only one send back. I know it's hard to see the steak in the photo, but it was under the sauce, sliced, and a good sized perfectly seared NY Strip steak with a nicely balanced spicy papaya sauce that complimented the meat. Although the meat was sliced, it was a two bite slice and eating this with chopsticks might prove challenging for some people; I would recommend you order a knife and fork for this entree if you are not a chopstick expert.
For my finale the most interesting dessert seemed to be the Tahitian vanilla bean ice cream, tempura-style angel food cake, crème de cassis whipped cream, and fresh berries.
The ingenious chef somehow wrapped the ball of ice cream in a layer of Angel food cake, dipped it in Tempura batter and fried it. The result was an interesting (not good, not bad) mix of cake, ice cream, crunchy batter, and cream. I'm not sure I would order this again, but it was definitely worth trying.
As Dine LA ends, I'm off to hunt for more good food with great prix fixe menus.