Friday, January 13, 2023

Middle of the Latin American Series

“We were in a roll for Latin American cooking,” I jokingly told Chef Marco at the new restaurant Rosita when we visited one December evening. With lunch at Ando just the day before and dinner at Mono a few days later, we squeezed in one dinner just in between at this new restaurant specializing in contemporary Latin American cuisine, and one happened to be the brainchild of Chef Agustin from Ando and Chef Ricardo from Mono. 

Felt like it wasn’t that long ago when Chef Marco prepared an impressive dinner done speakeasy style at his culinary studio in Island South for a small group of us, and a few months later, I got the opportunity to experience his cooking again now that he’s put in charge of the kitchen of this new restaurant on Ship Street featuring a casual dining room with only a handful tables and a spacious open kitchen at the back. I love the home-like modern atmosphere with a warm color scheme including the brick red facade. A single 6-course tasting menu was what’s on offer at the time of our visit – which came barely one week after it’s officially open for business. That’s what we had, plus the wine pairing option predominantly from Latin America wine regions. 

The bowl of warm Arepas was brought to us with two types of butter, one whipped with chicken liver, and another mixed with yellow peppers. First course was described as “Rosita Market Ceviche” on the menu, which I assumed to be one that will have a rotating set of ingredients depending on season and what’s available. On our night it was prawns and Hamachi with passionfruit tigre de leche – I liked the bright, salivating flavor profile with just a slight kick of chili heat. A thick slice of tuna was then served, cured with lime and underneath was Nopal cactus brunoise and bits of white asparagus tossed with brown butter.

“Winter Soup” listed on the menu didn’t tell much of what our next course actually was. Turned out it’s the oxtail soup served with slices of chorizo, avocado and vegetables. Yup you heard it right, avocado in soup, and it turned out to be tasty and more like a soup stew with rich and hearty flavor. Next was the lobster stew, served family style with the whole lobster cut into chunks and served with a rich bisque like sauce and pasta in gnocchi-like texture. I love the intensity of the flavor in this dish, especially in a winter night. 

The whole chicken was presented in a casserole it was roasted in before being carved to serve with jus reduction and vegetables on the side. The chicken – from the local Ping Yuen farm - was well-brined, stuffed with mousse underneath the skin, rubbed with spice and roasted. Whatever they used, I love the flavor from the rubbing spices and the regular basting gave the skin a nice tan and taste. Two big pieces of empanadas were served at the same time, done with feta cheese and chicken filling. Going with the main course was an Argentinian malbec under the natural way with a funky label. Turned out to be very nice with medium body and mainly black fruit taste, “with grapes grown at high altitude, fermented using a native yeast, aged in concrete eggs” and bottled “unfiltered”. A good effort no doubt. 

We finished with two desserts. First the lemon-mint sorbet with rum espuma and mixed berries underneath, and then the classic churros with Dulce de Leche dipping sauce. Both super sweet, just the way I like. I felt the wine pairing of a sweet Torrontes from Argentina’s Mendoza region was well-chosen too and worked well with the sweets.

Overall, we liked what we had, and with the restaurant only just started, I could imagine the team will only get even better once they got their feet on the ground and further refined their menu and style. This is certainly the one I would eagerly look at and anticipate for my next visit some time soon. 

When? December 18 2022
Where? Rosita, 1-7 Ship Street, Wanchai
Menu Highlights? Roast Ping Yuen Chicken with Empanadas
Miolo Cuvee Brut NV, Brazil
2020 Philipp Kuhn Riesling, Pfalz, Germany
2021 Matias Riccitelli Kungfu Malbec
2020 Zuccardi Tardi Torrontes, Mendoza.

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