Friday, December 07, 2012

Grassroots Pantry - Feel-Good Food

Dessert at Grassroots Pantry - fig napoleon with pistachio and cashew cream
Eating well has been something of a challenge recently. It seems particularly ironic because I have access to fresh organic local vegetables every Sunday, however there is no irony in it at all when you realise that the time spent making sure that there are vegetables at Island East Markets every Sunday is exactly why I haven't been eating them.

The first time I went to Grassroots Pantry, it was with Table for Two, for our very fun food crawl. The second time, it was to invite them to come set up a stall at Island East Markets. This time, the third time, I was finally able to go in for a proper meal (after having seen the lovely GP girls almost weekly at the market! Needless to say, they knew I was going in for dinner - end disclaimer).

Red Rose Amber Ale Baird Beer
A few of my friends are vegetarian on the 1st and 15th day of each lunar month - something that is very common in Hong Kong among Buddhists and Taoists; I'm sure I've explained it before. A dinner scheduled with T, one such friend, fell on a "veggie day", and I immediately booked Grassroots Pantry. (Side note: it was really cute to see "Buddhist friendly" symbols on the menu here - not everything that is veg is Buddhist friendly - garlic, for instance, is not).

Kimchi pancake
I started with a beer (pretty clear I'm not the Buddhist in the group) while we ordered from the cute (and meticulously) hand-drawn menu. The kimchi pancake and potato and tofu croquettes caught our eyes.

The kimchi pancake was a little doughier than usual, but we all swooned over the shiso leaf in the middle and gobbled it up (the three of us are all a bit shiso-crazy - we're hyper addicted to Uchida-san's shiso mojito at Butler).

Potato and tofu croquettes with homemade ketchup
I know I opened the post with the words "eating well", but the idea of deep-fried potato was just too hard to resist. These were a great size - 2 bites or so - it seemed dense and firm initially but the crunchy golden crust gave way to a hearty mashed potato and tofu ball. Along with the homemade ketchup (umami-packed, rather than sugar-laden), it's the kind of thing I wish I could have at home for movie night. Tater-tots came to mind when you usually read "potato croquettes", but these were miles better.

Root vegetable and quinoa "cous cous"
I love tagines (so few places cook with them in Hong Kong), and I always feel virtuous after quinoa, so by the time I was done with this it felt like whatever internal heat or general sinful junkiness I gave my body with the croquettes had been cleared. This is the sort of thing I would never get sick of, especially as a weekday dinner.

Mushroom and truffle oil linguini
As we were flipping through the menu, the table beside us had just ordered the linguini, and the scent of truffle filled the room. We didn't have to look any further - linguini it was.

Fig napolean
Local organic figs had been causing quite a storm recently - to my knowledge they're only grown at Zen Organic Farm - let's hope more farmers start looking into it. The pastry of the napolean was maybe a bit too hard, but breaking it all up and coating each mouthful in the cashew cream helped (an awful attempt by yours truly to split the layers vertically ended in shards and crumbles, but that made it all the easier to coat in cream!).

Rice pudding with coconut milk
When T lifted her eyes from the dessert menu, they positively sparkled. That's when we knew the words "rice pudding" were there. Super coconutty and not too sweet, it rounded off dinner nicely.

The team behind Grassroots Pantry weren't the first to offer organic food in a restaurant setting in Hong Kong, but they can definitely be considered pioneers and advocates who are making an impact on how we view food in Hong Kong. What they're doing is offering wholesome organic eating as a choice - they're not forcing it down people's throats (literally!) but just telling us that it can be done if you want to. It's hard to believe that for so long, mainstream food has been so homogenous in its sources, and it's refreshing to know that there is a choice when you want it. And why wouldn't you, when you feel so damn virtuous afterwards.

Grassroots Pantry
12 Fuk Sau Lane
Sai Ying Pun
Hong Kong
+852 2873 3353
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1 comment:

  1. Looks like a great dining spot. Looking forward to trying it out. Love that they have local and organic options too!