We’ve yet to try Chef Simon Rogan’s Aulis Hong Kong –a 12-seater chef’s table and development kitchen offshoot of the chef’s Aulis London – but Aulis’ farm-to-table sister restaurant Roganic is not far off, with the main dining room only a few metres away from the chef’s counter itself. The way the two spots interact is this: Aulis debuts new dishes each season and the most popular and successful of the lot are showcased at Roganic later on.
“Bespoke” is the word that first comes to mind when thinking about our dining experience at Roganic – from the glass of refreshingly floral Exton Park rosé sparkling wine made just for Chef Rogan that started our meal on a high, to the tangy sorrel leaf grown in-house that crowned the cep, cured egg, spelt, burnt chives dish, to the Simon Rogan brand of Petrossian caviar pearls sat atop the sea urchin custard, to the cylinder of butter homemade by a chef friend in the UK that’s perfect for slathering on the restaurant’s soda-bread muffins, each element of each dish is either made or grown in-house or sourced specifically for the restaurant. That’s impressive.
Local, seasonal ingredients are paramount to Roganic, and in Hong Kong, this is best seen in dishes like the grilled salad, Westcombe cheese, truffle, which uses charred local greens paired with the intense flavours of Cheddar and truffle custard to full affect.
The staff at Roganic also make the place shine – they are affable, on their toes and know the menu, ingredients and techniques back to front. The man in charge of the kitchen is Chef Oli Marlow from Roganic London, which was awarded a Michelin star last year.
We had a whopping 15 courses in the full tasting menu (a bargain at $980/person), but don’t be intimidated by the number of dishes or time involved – many are small bites, and we were done and dusted with our meal in around two hours, leaving fully satisfied but not food-comatose. There is also a short tasting menu (around nine courses at $680/person) and a three-course set lunch menu ($280/person) if your appetite and/or wallet are not as substantial. Regardless of which you select, we defy you to find a tasting menu of similar quality and execution at lower price point in Hong Kong.
Here’s a look at the many and varied courses we dove into at Roganic – it’s important to note that our pictures simply do not do the dishes justice, especially darker dishes like the cep and duck that were more difficult to photograph:
Pumpkin, nashi pear, bay leaf: a tiny, crisp-shelled tart to start us off, filled with the sweetest pumpkin and pear purée imaginable.
Cep, cured egg, spelt, burnt chives: one of our favourites, this unassuming dish was a marriage of winning textures, from the mushroom foam base to the crisp spelt on top.
Wafer, fermented mushoom purée, yeast: a nod to Chef Rogan’s love of pickling and fermenting, the strong flavours here packed a one-bite wallop.
Truffle pudding: a savoury take on the traditional British bread and butter pudding, this buttery delight was the most indulgent of the flurry of amuse-bouches and a strong early contender for top bite of 2019.
Sea urchin custard, our caviar: a Chef Rogan signature, the sublimely creamy texture of the custard – with an uni flavour mellower than what we’ve become accustomed to at Japanese spots around town – was the highlight of this dish for us, enlivened by briny pops of the chef’s own brand of caviar.
Chicken, young squid, mustard emulsion: this inky-black, deep-fried fritter (use your hands to eat this one) reminded us of a next-level bar snack. The flavourful shredded chicken inside the fritter was our favourite component, and we really dug the dollop of sharp mustard that cut through all that richness.
Soda bread and cultured butter: a course in its own right, this soda bread and muffin hybrid boasted a great crumb, a sweet, nutty flavour and a crunchy topping. We wish we could’ve brought some home for breakfast the next day!
Aged raw beef, oyster, caper: a beautifully plated, clean-tasting beef tartare with no gamy aftertaste, the beef was akin to a chewier version of raw tuna. We loved the acidity of the dressing on this one, with coal oil imparting a distinct smokiness.
Grilled salad, Westcombe cheese, truffle: a Roganic signature for a reason, the well-matched flavours of the charred local greens, creamy cheese sauce and truffle custard have left lasting impressions. In this dish, as in so many of the others, the chef used a herb oil (chive, in this case) to achieve a pop of inky green and an additional interesting flavour.
Snapper, black garlic, 5 flavours: we liked the local nod with the chef’s use of Chinese five-spice, and the fish was well cooked, with a noteworthy crisp skin.
Duck with turnip, spiced red vinegar: this dish stole our hearts. It consisted of two parts – juicy, crisp-skinned dry-aged duck paired with paper-thin turnip slices and a punchy raspberry vinegar sauce and a bowl containing the aforementioned minced duck topped with a sticky, cheesy potato mousse that was the stuff of dreams.
Yellow beetroot, buttermilk, mint: the first of four desserts, this was perhaps our favourite, and not only because it was as pretty as an English garden. It was our first time trying (golden) beetroot sorbet, and we’re now huge fans of its refreshing, earthy sweetness.
Caramelised apple: the “main” dessert – and a Chef Rogan signature – was a textbook-perfect tart Tatine, but the scoop of overpowering juniper ice cream served alongside was the only element of the meal that didn’t really do it for is.
Earl Grey, chocolate, cherry cake: we adored these bite-sized sweet treats, with the malty, citrusy flavour of Earl Grey the most pronounced of the trio.
Doughnut: a fun way to end the meal, we couldn’t detect much of the pine flavour that supposedly scented
these doughnuts, but these light, airy and grease-free rounds of sugar-coated dough were tasty nonetheless.
In a word: go. Roganic is exciting, experimental and all-round delicious destination dining – “destination” because it’s situated at the wrong end of Causeway Bay, which may as well be the New Territories for some Central-biased diners. For farm-to-table fine dining in Hong Kong, it can’t be beat.
Next month, Roganic’s dessert bar is set to open (with the restaurant’s former incarnation as a Japanese eatery’s sushi bar put to good use). So that will be another great option for those looking to sample Chef Rogan’s sweet stuff, where desserts can be ordered à la carte or as part of a tasting menu.
Find Roganic's latest menus here
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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