Friday, April 8, 2022

Return to Roots

We were happy when we heard Chef Stephanie’s restaurant Roots was reopening in late March after a short hiatus, and we decided to pay her a visit on the first week of service resumption. Of course, a short break away from the kitchen is always good to refresh one’s mind but we are also conscious about this COVID crisis has been hitting everyone hard, especially those small businesses in town. 

Well, dinner was still not an option so lunch that is, on a bright Saturday afternoon in this delightful modern dining room at a street corner near the hip Star Street. The 3-course all-day menu was arguably the best kept secret in this neighborhood. Apart from a few tried and true signature dishes that brought so many praises, it’s good to see a few new dishes as well – Chef did spend the off-time thinking and creating. 

We began with a pair of appetizers. The mini “club sandwich” with coconut curry crab was a cute one. Crab salad mixed with aioli and chopped spring onions was served in a mini warm roti canai rolled like an open burrito. It had great flavor, and served as a good alternative to their signature shrimp toast especially if you were looking for something different. Tea Leaf Molton Egg was a perfect brunch dish too, with a halved soft-boiled egg finished with tea leave smoke plus potato espuma mixed with Chinese ham and artichokes. A play on the classic Spanish Huevos Rotos perhaps, but it has a nice Asian touch too and the egg was perfectly cooked. 

“There’s another new dish that I want you to try,” said Stephanie as she came out from the kitchen and brought our new dish over. In front of us were the lamb belly agnolotti served with a mild fermented tofu sauce and fried tofu chips. “Inspired by Cantonese Lamb Belly Stew,” she explained. The gamey flavor of the lamb stew filling worked well with the creamy sauce – nothing like the original version of the Cantonese winter classic but love the idea. 

All the main course options sounded enticing, and at the end we went for a pasta and a rice dish to share. The “Carbonara 2.0” was nothing like what we expected except the linguine part. Instead of cheese and egg, it’s tossed with duck liver sauce and Chinese goose liver sausage for a double dose of rich flavor. The Pork Chop Tomato Rice – also described as version 2.0 – was a play of the local chachaanteng classic. Rice was cooked risotto style with tomato and cheese, and it’s topped with a generous portion of Iberico Pork rack baked in the oven. Rice is perfectly done, I could live with a bit more juicy mean (maybe a fattier cut or brined for longer prior to cooking) but overall it was a comforting dish. 

Both desserts were delicious too. The Pu-er Tiramisu was served in a Chinese rice bowl with a hint of tea flavor, and the tofu ice-cream was served with a pair of twisted baked puff pastry strips coated with ginger and maltose that brought back much nostalgia. 

Warm and sunny days like this called for a bright Muscadet. Almost fragrance like aroma on the nose, nice acidity and plenty of citrus on the palate and minerals. Just something I would love to sip on every summer days. 

When? March 26 2022
Where? Roots, 7 Sun Street, Wanchai, Hong Kong
Menu Highlights? Handmade Lamb Belly Agnolotti, Fried Tofu Chips
Drink? 2017 Domain Landron La Louvetrie Muscadet Secre et Maine AOP

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