29th June 2021 – (Hong Kong) At the end of April this year, Roji took over the Brickhouse Mexican restaurant in the hidden alleyway of Lan Kwai Fong and operates a contemporary izakaya befittingly named after roji ura, meaning alleyway hideout in Japanese. It occupies the same space as the former Brickhouse and is owned and operated by husband-and-wife team Xuan and Agnes Mu. Xuan is also a founding member of Maximal Concepts, which once operated the popular Mexican hang-out.
Roji’s unique location instantly brought back memories of Japan to Agnes, Founder of Roji – the land of the rising sun is where her parents first met, lived and also where she frequented as a traveller. She envisioned Roji as a late night casual sanctuary where people could show up for light bites, cold drinks, cool jams and an altogether good time. The menu isn’t quite like any other izakaya, with a traditionally Japanese focus and a complementing French flair to nod to her roots and honour her two favourite cuisines.
The must-try starters include the refreshing scallops served with Yuzu Dashi and Celtuce, Hamachi served with Umami, Ikura, Kombu, Bottarga and Torotaku which comprises Tuna, Yellow Daikon served with crispy nori.
Every izakaya has their own rendition of the famous katsu; and Roji’s Chicken Katsu (HK$168) interpretation leans on the authenticity of its recipe, mouth-watering tonkatsu sauce and undoubtedly, its exceptionally crispy breadcrumb exterior. Chicken thighs are first tenderised and seasoned with rosemary and chilli before coated in a secret panko mixture and then fried until golden and crackling. The cutlets are then served over a pool of sharp and sweet tonkatsu sauce for easy dipping.
The Seafood Box (HK$268) is a must-try dish and it is loaded with snow crab meat and ikura along with mushrooms, garden cress and shiso. Beneath the toppings of each box is a bed of red vinegar and dashi sauce-cooked rice. Mixed tableside, the rice is designed to be shared between two to four.
For something a little more plentiful, the main dishes are the way to go. The first thing to note about the A4 Wagyu Beef (HK$298) at Roji is that the recipe is so thoughtfully conceived – perfectly paired with its shiso ponzu sauce, white daikon, baby carrots, baby corn and snap peas, the acidity and sweetness of the supporting ingredients help to cut through the fat of the beef without compromising its robust flavours.
The King Crab Legs (HK$298) will come as a delightful wonder to most. Blanching crab is the best cooking method to retain the natural freshness and flavours of the meat, but to add its own identity to it, Roji serves its legs side split and peppered with a thick blend of parsley and shiso leaves and a side of lemon wedge for a zesty drizzle. The herbaceousness of the greens gives a hint of sharpness and colour to the dish.
Dont forget to save a little space in your stomach to savour the Skillet Pan Cake served with Marshmellow, White Chocolate and Hojicha. The pan cake goes so well with the white chocolate Hojicha.
Apart from the courses at Roji, guests are also welcomed to nip in for a quick cocktail or two. Helmed by master mixologist Lok Gurung, Roji also serves a variety of sakes, whiskies, tequilas and mezcals next to a concise list of cocktails. The Saketini (HK$125) is the bartender’s favourite beverage – a modern take on the classic, it uses gin as the backbone and is then enhanced with bergamot, floral akvavit, plus caraway, dill and cucumber lime to balance out the flavours.
Value for money : 3.5/5
Taste : 4.5/5
Ambience : 4/5
Service : 5/5
G/F 20A D’Aguilar Street, Central.
Roji is open from Monday to Saturday, drinks are served from 5:00PM and dinner service begins at 6:00PM.
Please note that Roji is a walk in only restaurant and bar serving guests on a first-come-first-serve basis.