Within a modern Victorian architectural envelope located on the ground floor of The Prestige, we spotted a myriad of dining restaurants that features a charming space to spend your evening. As we walked along the arcade towards the end, we saw a classic porch ark with a delicate metope design. The clean and minimalist exterior directed us to a sign – 根 (Gēn in Chinese), which translates to “ground roots.”
Situated adjacent to the main road within the building, Gēn is a modern Malaysian fine dining restaurant that reimagines Penang cuisine using locally sourced ingredients. Keeping true to his roots, the dining place helmed by Chef Johnson is a place where Malaysian quality local produce is fused with passion, culture, and childhood memories.
Themed “My Malaysian Stories,” the tasting menu mainly revolves around the produce-driven concept, recreating nostalgic flavours using innovative cooking methods. The menus will be readjusted from time to time, but if you’re fortunate enough, you’ll experience a diversity of dishes cooked up with natural ingredients – and a different way of eating greens.
As we settled into our seats at Gēn, it was clear that the restaurant takes its hospitality seriously. With sparkling cocktails served before our meal, we were treated to a truly elevated dining experience. Now, let’s dive into our meal with a comprehensive review.
The Tasting Menu
The ten courses started with Chicken Essence, fused with Ayer Itam ginger oil, Penang soy sauce, and eight years-aged rice wine. With its herbaceous and full-bodied flavor, this concentrated nettle essence boasts a complex profile that’s enhanced by spicy and gingery notes. The result is a refreshingly crisp finish that’s sure to satisfy.
Chicken Crackers are served on ginger after enjoying a mouthful of ginger essence. The crackers are layered with shredded kampung chicken which blends harmoniously with Ayer Itam ginger mousse and fried gingers. The texture is crunchy, and each bite is full of flavour.
The cured skipjack tuna and sweet longan pulp provide the perfect backdrop for the Kaluga Amur Caviar, which boasts a crisp and refreshing taste. On the other hand, the homegrown T’lur Tropical Caviar surprises with its fresh and buttery texture, perfectly balanced with a burst of acidity from pickled guava.
The highlight of the meal was undoubtedly the fresh abalone paired with a savoury pie, which told the story of the beautiful Malaysian island of Semporna. This series of pies allowed us to savour the freshest abalone and sea cucumber, sautéed with pork belly and perfectly complemented by grilled abalone and abalone mayo on the side.
Flavours of Malaysia
Our taste buds were in for a treat with the Ginger Flower Sorbet, served alongside fresh tiger prawns topped with asam jelly. The dish was perfectly complemented with chicken shreds and a drizzle of honey.
Buah Kulim is a hidden gem in the plethora of local ingredients, known as Malaysia’s forest garlic. The dish was taken to the next level with the addition of locally sourced Grouper Fish from Sekinchan, expertly paired with the Kulim for an explosion of flavors. The Grouper Fried Fish was served to perfection, complemented by a yellow sauce and delicately decorated with petals, creating a surprising yet delectable flavour combination.
The duck from Bidor is known for its tender meat. The Bidor Duck Breast was cooked to perfection, with a juicy texture and flavours enhanced by a thin layer of fat. The ginger sauce added a touch of saltiness, creating a perfect pairing that allowed the duck’s flavours to shine.
A dish to remember. Ikan Kurau was served exclusively in its tartness and distinctive spice aromas. We embrace its freshness and exceptional meat along with a sour soup. This salty and often sour soup combined with fish and topped with smetana is delicious. The combination gave us something new to enjoy while we awaken our taste buds.
Wrapping things up with dessert was the Sugarcane Jelly and Pineapple Tart, served with a side of refreshing Sugarcane Tea. Complete with fresh sugarcane to chew on.
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The dishes were an exciting exploration of flavours, with each ingredient expertly prepared and layered to create a unique and unforgettable experience.
Address: Unit 6, 8, Gat Lebuh Gereja, Georgetown, 10300 George Town, Penang (Prestige Hotel)
Contact: +6012 511 3323
Opening Hours: Wednesday (6PM – 11PM) | Thursday – Sunday (12PM – 3PM, 6PM – 11PM)