The name Gēn 根 (refers to "roots" in Mandarin) gives an idea about the place and its concept- appreciating quality local produce with familiar yet nostalgic flavors from childhood memories. Helmed by Chef Johnson, the place is ready to take you on a journey through flavors with his interpretation of Malaysian Stories- a reminiscent of the past for those who can relate, a new expedition of flavor combo through the creative dishes. At Gēn 根 (unlike its sister restaurant- Communal Table by Gēn 根 at Lebuh Presgrave), the restaurant only offers Chef's Tasting Menu... be it lunch or dinner. A 7-course Lunch is priced at RM 180 whilst the 12-course Dinner is priced at RM 300, subject to service charge. The menu changes every 2 months, we had the privilege to try their June 2020 Dinner menu.
Many Thanks To Gēn 根 for hosting us
Chicken Wing, Spring Onion
Curry, Salted Duck Egg
T'Lur Caviar, Ginger Flower
Durian, Crab, Chinese Doughstick
The flow of dishes is meticulously choreographed... a promise of exciting, discovery journey of flavors and textures. The 12-course dinner started off with Deboned Chicken stuffed with Fried Rice, Fermented Chili and Sambal... a playful dish with familiar flavor combo (Fried Chicken, Sambal and Rice) that we were quite accustomed to. Next was a dish with heavy Salted Egg essence... almost like a deconstructed Salted Duck Egg! The puff-like pastry had a crispy-flaky and gritty texture but it packed a powerful Salted Duck Egg punch; quite an acquired taste that any Salted Duck Egg fans would be very much pleased. The meal then took a quick turn from piquant flavor to a dish that shined on its own. The T'Lur Caviar served on a bed of Lemongrass-seasoned cured Mackerel was an attention seeker. Probably one of the dishes that left me with the deepest impression, Chef Johnson has done a great job in supporting the local community, the T'Lur Caviar is a locally sourced Caviar (farmed and produced in Malaysia) with great flavors. The roe was not heavily salted as compared to some oversea variants but the burst of seafood essence was not compromised. The whole flavor combo (of Caviar and cured Mackerel) was refreshing yet palate-pleasing... even better with a sip of Wine.
We were then presented with a bowl of fresh greens (Ulam-ulam), 6 small plates of dips and condiments, 2 pieces of torched Mackerel as well as 2 spray bottles. While we were wondering what we were supposed to do with all these, we were told that it was actually a dish featuring Ulam Raja and plenty of home-made dips (including Tamarind sauce, Fermented Fish Sauce, Spicy Chili sauce, desiccated Coconut)... a display of flavors that allowed diners to mix-and-match in creating their favorite flavor-combo. The following dish was a big contrast to the earlier one. Chef Johnson played the seasonal card well by introducing Durian to the dish... it was Durian Sambal with Crab sticks on deep fried bread. It was an adventurous move to include Durian but the pungency was not bold... almost like a light kiss on the lips, the Sambal flavor then took over the entire thing, a dish that even non-Durian lovers would be able to accept.
Threadfin, Sawtooth Coriander
Duck, Sarawak Peppercorn
Duck Herbal Soup
Pineapple, Soy Sauce, Chili
Kaya Banana Parfait
Right on to the main dishes, the Pumpkin Porridge was beyond amazing. Apart from the Pumpkin-infused Porridge, the condiments of Dried Scallops, White Fish, Egg Yolk, Puff Rice, Braised Peanuts, Fried Shallots, Chicken Floss and Spring Onions added good texture and another layer of dimension to the dish. The umami-ness of the dish was bold. Our only wish was the dish could come in a bigger portion. Next dish was a dish that introduce a peppery tingle to our palate- Threadfin with fermented Cabbage finished with White Peppercorn broth and Coriander Oil. A dish that we could enjoy meaty, succulent fish with delicious broth. Hitting hard on the palate was next dish- Confit with Chinese Pancake topped with Shitake and served with Sarawak Black Pepper sauce. All elements were bold and vying for attention, the first thing that hit the palate was the sweet, glazed Shitake... followed by the crunchy Cucumber hidden inside the pancake then the savory Duck meat and lastly, the bold, peppery Sarawak Black Pepper sauce. After a rich Duck dish, Chef then introduced the Duck Herbal Soup with different texture of Mushrooms (fermented Enoki and fresh Shitake). It was something like a marriage between Mushroom and Herbal Duck Soup, a new yet familiar flavor combo that any Malaysian Chinese could relate.
We ended the meal with a sweet note, starting from an oddly satisfying dish with seemingly impossible combo- Pineapple and Chilies. It has pickled Pineapple served with Pineapple Sorbet finished with Soy Sauce Chili reduction and a hint of Coriander Powder. It was a dish that carried spicy, salty, sweet and savory hint; a rather exquisite dish. Next was the nourishing dessert- Bird's Nest, cooked with Goji Berries served over Egg Custard with caramelized Brown Sugar. The sweetness was perfectly considered, the Brown Sugar flavor beautifully complemented the whole dish; the dessert that we enjoyed the most. Lastly, was a 3-tier dessert tray featuring Parfaits- (from the bottom) Deep Fried Kaya Banana Ice Cream dusted with Chocolate Powder, Rose Parfait and Guava Parfait with Sour Plum. The first one was a little sweet with heavy Kaya-Banana flavor but the Rose Parfait cuts through the sweetness and offered a refreshing dimension. Last was a fruity Guava with Sour Plum, a favorite combo that any Malaysians can relate to.
The Pharm Hut Kefir Soda (Rm 15/ left) and Rudy Ginger Beer (Rm 10/ right)
Service Charge: Yes 10%
Business Hours: 12 pm to 3 pm for Lunch, 6 pm to 11 pm for Dinner. Closed on Wednesdays.
Contact Number: 6012- 511 3323
For Reservation: https://www.genpenang.com/reservation
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