Wednesday, March 14, 2018

Gēn 根 @ Lebuh Presgrave, Georgetown, Penang.

Tasting menus are often perceived as expensive experiences that are usually reserved for occasions, and even if you are willing to fork out a fortune, there are not much options available in Penang. Gēn 根 is one of the new kids on the block that offers such exclusive dining experiences; beautiful platings and delicate food are some of the reasons this place is taking social media by storm. With a name like Gēn 根 (roots in English), it paints an image that the restaurant places great focuses on locally sourced ingredients; though not trying to deconstruct the dishes but trying to present them in more creative ways.

You have probably seen this place if you have driven past Lebuh McNair; Gēn's take on the decor is minimalist-kind of elegance yet with a touch of industrial vibe. The open-kitchen concept allows diners to witness the entire cooking process, plating and serving. Though there is a list of ala-carte items, the Chef's Tasting Menu is the best way to sample the highlights of the month. The menu changes on a monthly basis and the Chef's Tasting Menu ranges from Rm 100 to Rm 200.

[Appetizer] Mantou with Crab Meat served with Chili Crab Sauce, Torch Ginger, Lemon Zest, Coriander and crushed Peanuts

[Appetizer] Nasi Lemak styled Egg Rice with Salted Fish, Rice Puff, Anchovies and Sambal

Instead of thinking what to order, we decided to go for their Chef's Tasting Menu (priced at Rm 120 and Rm 150 respectively). The excitement of waiting eagerly for the next dish is part of the experiences. The Chef mesmerized us by serving 2 Amuse-Bouche... the first was a blend of Mango, Herbs and Rice Crackers while the latter one was Deep Fried White Bait. The refreshing start was a memorable one, we love the blend of flavors and the contrast in texture, especially the touch of Torch Ginger and Kaffir Lime Leaves which enhanced the refreshing-factor. 

For Appetizers, we started off with Mantou... stuffed with a generous amount of seasoned Crab Meat. The Mantou has a nice crisp to it while the filling contained a burst of seafood sweetness. To our surprise, it was quite spicy on its own. The sweetness became more noticeable with a dip into the Chili Crab sauce; similarly, the Torch Ginger cuts through the flavors and offered a clean, herbaceous touch to it. 

Looked like a deconstructed Nasi Lemak, we were amazed by the flavors... exactly what we could find in Nasi Lemak. All the quintessential elements were there... spicy, creamy-rich, crisp texture. It was a smart move to include a poached Egg in the middle... for the flavors and creaminess. If I must nitpick, I'd prefer them to crush the Salted Fish instead of serving a whole piece... it was a little overpowering (or salty) to munch a whole piece of Salted Fish.

[Main Course/ Tasting Menu- Rm 120] Pan Fried Seabass with Banana Leaf, served with Okra Tempura and "Ikan Bakar Sauce"

[Main Course/ Tasting Menu- Rm 150] Slow-cooked Beef with Peppercorn Sauce

The slow-cooked Beef with Peppercorn sauce was one of the best dishes for the evening. The Wagyu Beef was perfectly seared but remained juicy and tender inside... minimal effort was required to slit through the marbled red meat. The pockets of fats melted in the mouth while the sweet-savory Peppercorn sauce complemented instead of overshadowed the flavors. The 'numbing' effect from the Peppercorns was weak but discernible. The Pan Fried Seabass on the other hand, paled when in comparison with the Beef. The flavor combination did not seem to appeal to us; we were not quite impressed and thought it was an ordinary fish dish with disappointingly average sauce. The surprise factor was missing.

[Dessert] White Chocolate Mousse with Pickled Guava, Sour Plum Powder and Frozen White Chocolate Flakes

[Dessert] Crushed Rose Petals, Brown Rice Pudding served with Calamansi and Rose Meringue

[Petit Four] Cempedak Macarons and Durian Profiteroles

There were 3 rounds of desserts, we started off with White Chocolate Mousse served with Pickled Guava and Sour Plum. The combination was too playful for us, not the Guava with Sour Plum but Chocolate with Sour Plum. We also thought the texture of the Chocolate Mousse could be smoother. Not being a fan of Meringue, the Rose Dessert was surprisingly good. The Brown Rice Pudding barely registered any flavors but an addictive-chewy texture while the Rose Meringue offered the quintessential sweetness as well as light-crisp... with a soothing Rose flavor. The meal ended up Petit Four... consisted of Macarons and Profiteroles in Malaysian-familiar tropical flavors.

[Amuse-Bouche] Rice Crackers with Mangoes, Torch Ginger, Mint Leaves and Kaffir Lime Leaves

[Amuse-Bouche] Deep Fried White Bait with Oatmeal and served with Mayonnaise 

Aqua Panna (Rm 10/ bottle)

Taste: 7.5/10 (1-3 bad, 4-7 average, 8-10 good)
Service: 7/10 (1-3 bad, 4-7 average, 8-10 good)
Price: 6.5/10 (1-3 expensive, 4-7 average, 8-10 cheap)
Parking: 6/10 (1-3 bad, 4-7 average, 8-10 good)
Ambiance: 7.5/10 (1-3 bad, 4-7 average, 8-10 good)
Service Charge: Yes 10%
Government Tax: No

Additional Information:
Address: 68 A, Lebuh Presgrave, 10300, Georgetown, Penang.
Business Hours: 6 pm to 11 pm. Closed on Mondays.
Contact Number: 6012- 578 3323