Have you heard of Roots Eatery yet? Don’t worry, you will soon – this small, Hong Kong–based catering concept is led by banker-turned-culinary-talent Stephanie Wong, who is making quite the splash with her hard-hitting flavours and passionate approach to transforming local ingredients.
We’re no strangers to Chef Wong’s cooking; late last year, we made ourselves familiar with a selection of lunch boxes on her catering menu, filled with flank steak, roast chicken, vegetable soup and fried brown rice. We were highly impressed with the quality of the food, so we were looking forward to this pop-up hosted at PMQ’s Taste Kitchen. And with a culinary education supplied by world-renowned chef Alain Ducasse, Michelin-starred restaurant Hostellerie de Plaisance in France and Hong Kong’s very own Amber, we had very high expectations of Chef Wong.
Supported by Taste Kitchen, a unique incubator programme focused on the F&B industry led by restaurant consultants Caleb and Joshua Ng of Twins Kitchen, Chef Wong presented us with a thoughtful menu filled with delights inspired by her travels throughout Italy and along the Mediterranean coast. Though the pop-up has sadly ended, here’s a look at the four-course Voyage from the Mediterranean menu, priced at $600 per person.
Our starter kicked things off nice and light. European Summer was a buttery dream, with a wonderful depth of flavour and texture throughout. The asparagus velouté was delicious, but the asparagus stalks atop the sauce could have benefited from more heavy-handed seasoning. However, the plump Hokkaido scallop was beautifully cooked, and the briny salmon roe exploded at the slightest touch of the tongue.
From Their Seas to Ours
During her recent trip around Italy, Turkey and Israel, Chef Wong picked up the venerable art of making pasta, and she showcased her skills with the next dish, From Their Seas to Ours. The homemade tagliolini was a triumph, its rustic appearance an added bonus. The grouper boasted a wonderfully flaky texture and delicate, crisp skin. Artichokes grown in Yuen Long (who knew you could grow artichokes in this city?) were roasted with cherry tomatoes in this subtly spicy dish, the local ingredients a nod to the chef’s Hong Kong stomping grounds.
Hands down, our favourite dish of the night: Homeslice. Tender cuts of perfectly cooked Ibérico pork loin and a robust jus made with Chinese aged zest came together to create an addictive affair, full of powerful flavours that gripped the taste buds. The pork was served with local green peppers (also from a Yuen Long farm) and red amaranth. Though the crossover of Chinese and Western flavours and ingredients is not an innovative concept by any stretch, it’s heartening to experience new dishes that catch you by surprise. This aromatic and spice-filled dish was one of them.
A Turkish Delight
A trip to Turkey is not a trip without a taste of their baked goods and desserts. Combining her knowledge of French techniques, Cantonese cooking philosophies and Eastern flavours, A Turkish Delight wrapped up the menu and brought our voyage back to the shores of Hong Kong, with a pistachio and cardamom financier dusted in rose petals alongside a scoop of bold and nutty black sesame ice cream – homemade and freshly churned, of course – as the finishing note.
All in all, we were delighted with Chef Wong’s pop-up menu, as well as the opportunity to witness the evolution of her food and to see first-hand how her skills have developed over the past six months. The freedom afforded by the pop-up seemed to have given her ample room to grow and explore a decidedly fine-dining approach, a far cry from the casual dishes on Roots Eatery’s lunch menu.
And we’ll even let you in on a little secret: Roots Eatery may soon have its very own brick-and-mortar location in the SoHo area! Now that she has completed her pop-up stint at Taste Kitchen, Chef Wong is devoting her time to finalising plans for her first restaurant. We shall sit back, lick our lips in anticipation and eagerly await more news on this front…
This write-up is based on a complimentary media tasting provided in exchange for an honest review and no monetary compensation. The opinions expressed here represent the author’s.
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