Why is Penang Malaysia’s food mecca? In my opinion, it’s because of the wide selection of amazing food, which is available everywhere at almost any time. No matter whether it is street food or high-end dining, you should enjoy jour meal. It’s that simple, and no one said that simple equals easy. By no means, it is easy to obey the contemporary and traditional cooking principles at once. Gen Restaurant, for example, is doing just that.
Table of contents
- Nyonya Influence
- Gen Restaurant Ambient
- Gen Restaurant Menu
- Amuse Bouche
- Gen Snacks
- Gen Restaurant Starters
- Main Dishes at Gen Restaurant
- Gen Restaurant Tasting Menu Desserts
- Sweet Finish
- House Mixed Drinks
- Gen Restaurant Review Card
- Price and Location
Meaning of the Gen Restaurant 根 is root, which implies to the ingredients used in their kitchen. For top quality, it is totally justified to expect the local ingredients. That this is a case, we were told even before our first bite. Before we dig into the Gen Restaurant review, we must point to the second clue – the Peranakan house.
Nyonya food is renowned for its intense flavors, devotion, and respect. At the same time, cosmopolitan Georgetown is also known for delicious Indian cuisine. With this in mind, we were looking forward to finding out what Gen Restaurant has to contribute to Malaysia’s food capital. As it turned out the Gen Restaurant Penang presents booth worlds with a modern approach.
Gen Restaurant Ambient
Renovation left the Peranakan building full of ornaments looking neat and fresh. Once we stepped closer, we could see the modern, minimalistic approach. Inside Gen Restaurant, the brushed concrete and wood rule the interior design. Minimalism also touches the dining space; there is only one large table. Sitting at it is entertaining with all the diners facing the open kitchen.
Gen Restaurant Penang has an open kitchen concept, and we love it. While dining, guests have insight into the kitchen action; aka the chef’s backside. Looks also shifts to the storing plastic containers which could be exposed in a more decorative manner. Although the incorporation of large leafy plants is a welcoming sight that brings color insight.
Gen Restaurant Menu
The Gen Restaurant food menu works in two ways, either the guest orders from the menu or trusts the chef with the Gen Penang tasting menu. We were excited to savor his creations and this Gen tasting menu sounded right. The drinks list extends beyond the house cocktails, which we described at the end of our Gen Restaurant review. You also can’t go wrong with a glass of wine next to the meal, maybe even start with an aperitif. We are sure you’ll find something to suit your taste. Our recommendation is pointed towards house mixed drinks or wine pairing.
For warming up our appetite, we got the fermented chili bread with egg sauce. The sauce was a little sweet and more creamy than eggy. Addition of salted egg developed palate further than the ordinary cooked egg. Apart from the flavor, salted egg contributed the texture with its fine parts.
In no time we were ready for our first snack, which could fit in the category too cute to eat, only if we weren’t that hungry. Based on crunchy brioche came the toppings; pandan cream, turmeric crumble and coffee bonbon. As advised, we ate it in one bite so that running coffee could spread through everything. At first, the coffee flavor ruled, then the taste of the aromatic pandan showed up. The turmeric took over at the end with a long-lasting and soothing aftertaste.
For the second snack, we had deep-fried youtiao with cream and soy sauce caviar. A beautiful garnish of micro celery leaves stated the notion of eating with eyes as well. All in all, it was a decent bite, well-seasoned with pepper and salt. As a contrast to the fried youtiao was the smoothness of the tiny soy drops. Their shape implied to the caviar, but the resemblance stops there.
The airy beetroot espuma impressed us by its intense redness. After the first taste, we’ve found the Indian influences in it. As we know, the cardamom is common in Indian cuisine and here it was combined with a pinch of ginger. In the middle of the red cloud was a buttery saffron cream. This tasty mix was excellent with fresh coriander leaf, but it disappeared too quickly.
Indeed, it was a very flavorful cloud, which I hoped would last a little longer. Thankfully its lingering aftertaste continued long enough to convince me that beetroot has many potentials I wasn’t aware of.
Gen Restaurant Starters
We got our first starter on the hollow rock, with betel leaves as colorful contrast. They were placed on top of crunchy and moist jicama shreds, underneath which a few other juicy components were hiding. First and the most noticeable was the fermented chili pineapple ice cream. I grow fond of chili addition in cold dishes and here it was spot on. Just like the cucumber pickle, peanut crumble and aged shrimp paste. It tasted the best when all the elements were enjoyed together.
The second cold starter was baked wild grouper, topped with coconut and papaya pickle. On top of it were Cantella and purple spinach leaves all surrounded by the turmeric sauce with calamansi. The sauce was delicious but too strong to let the fish shine through. Possibly the coconut and the papaya would be enough. Nevertheless, there is always diners’ freedom to choose what to put on a spoon and we took advantage of that.
Main Dishes at Gen Restaurant
Wild Caught Sea Bass
The first main dish at Gen Restaurant was wild caught sea bass, topped with pickled mango and fish floss, mixed with fermented chili powder. Raw mango leaves served as a garnish, which got slightly cooked in a sauce. This aromatic sauce was a reduction of kaffir lime leaves, coriander, and galangal.
To it, the fish floss added a fair share of fish flavors to support the main star on the plate – the catch of the day. The highlight was the very gently pickled mango, which still had its renowned taste and how we could taste all the different flavors. Amazing dish!
Duck Breast – Japanese Pumpkin
The protein in the second main dish was a Sous Vide duck breast. Underneath the soft meat was punchy curry reduction, while the garlic eggplant mousse was on top of it. It took care that the lightly torched Japanese pumpkin stayed in its place. The spicy curry reduction had a noticeable kick, but when combined with all the components together, it was delicious.
Gen Restaurant Tasting Menu Desserts
Last part of the tasting menu at the Gen Restaurant came in three steps, and I loved every single one of them. For the pre-dessert, it was the hawthorn ice cream made with liquid Nitrogen. We loved the crackling sound firm flakes made and the way they melted leaving us with a solid creamy taste. For those who don’t know, hawthorn is a plant which can be used for medical purposes. The fruits have a similar taste as overripe apples.
The main dessert was seasoned in a way that influenced the watermelon and strawberry to develop more earthy taste. That is why we liked this bouncy and compact watermelon meringue. After it absorbed strawberry consume it was even more interesting! Certainly far from the sweet and fruity dessert, but enjoyable with crunch coming from pickled watermelon skin and toasted melon seeds.
Slightly bitter strawberry sauce with pepper was a perfect match also for the basil leaf. I wouldn’t mind having a few more, to be exact. Not because there is not enough food served here at Gen Restaurant, but because this dessert is amazingly delicious.
The final dessert was left to individual’s preferences with each ingredient in a separate bowl and nutmeg tea for a finish. We could mix the compact steamed rice cake, toasted coconut and smoky Gula Melaka syrup to the coconut sorbet. Sorbet was made of fermented coconut drink with low content of alcohol. I loved it all mixed with tea sips in between to clean my pallet. As a result, the intense nutmeg tea cut through the sweetness and enabled several fresh starts.
House Mixed Drinks
We had a pleasure to taste two house drinks, which were completely different but both intensely flavorsome. First was the Ambarella Cocktail, garnished with fresh roselle leaves. This appealing drink comprised of the tamarind syrup, lychee liqueur, and sour plum. It was the first time for me that I liked the addition of sour plum inside my drink. Maybe I got used to it or it just fits perfectly with the sweet yet refreshing taste and pleasantly sweet aroma.
The second was fruitier on the nose and very aromatic. Among others, this sweet drink consisted of soda water and nutmeg. The balsamic taste of fresh nutmeg juice also added the somewhat bitter aftertaste.
Next time you will wonder where to eat in Georgetown, Penang we warmly recommend the Gen Restaurant. It is a new restaurant in Penang and its young team has very scrumptious ideas, which they execute well. To our liking is also the incorporation of fermented chili and pickles in many dishes. The health focus also continues with the absence of carbohydrates on the plates.
It seems to us that the preparation is the most demanding part of the daily routine as most dishes are prepared in advance. As a matter of fact, in the tropics it is nice to cool down with some cold dishes and the first starter was the standout for me. I didn’t think that pineapple ice cream would be so delicious with jicama.
The ideas count, no matter how judgmental your mind is. Before finding the winning combination, there is a lot of work and pressure. Here at Gen Restaurant, Georgetown chef Johnson Wong is very successful at it. We can easily title Gen Restaurant as one of the best restaurants in Georgetown.
Gen Restaurant Review Card
- ATMOSPHERE - 8.4/108.4/10
- SERVICE - 8.8/108.8/10
- PRESENTATION - 8.7/108.7/10
- FOOD - 8.5/108.5/10
- DRINKS - 8.8/108.8/10
- VALUE - 9/109/10
Price and Location
The Gen Penang tasting menu comes at the expense of 50 USD, to which you can add the wine pairing for an additional 30 USD. If you’d rather have a three-course meal, the starters and desserts cost around 9 USD while mains are about 17 USD. If you will give it a try, here is a link to a location for easier navigation.
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