Modern Japanese: Tucked away in a hidden corner of Lan Kwai Fong, Roji offers a surprisingly sprightly, modern Japanese Izakaya experience in the heart of Hong Kong.
Look & Feel: Taking over the space once occupied by beloved taqueria Brickhouse, Roji is hidden away in a Lan Kwai Fong alley. The new restaurant is a refreshing reimagination of the space, though. Gone is the formerly dingy, colorful, busy vibe. Instead, Roji is a calm space with polished tables, wood seating, and grey-washed walls that take inspiration from Japanese Zen aesthetics. On a Monday night, the new restaurant was very quiet—although this meant there wasn’t much ambiance, it did allow for great conversations. Lan Kwai Fong has become very quiet since the pandemic, and Roji actually benefits from this. Though, it will probably be much livelier on a Friday or Saturday night.
On the Menu: The dishes at Roji meld Japanese ingredients and flavors with Fresh flair, offering a fresh take on Izakaya eats. Most ingredients—and especially the fish—are flown in from Japan, ensuring fresh, premium ingredients. In an effort to promote sustainability and support local endeavors, though, some vegetables are sourced from a farm in the New Territories. The menu is short but sweet, ensuring that the dishes that Roji does do are all hits.
The meal begins with the Scallops ($138), which are slightly charred and served in a French-inspired brown butter sauce, creating a light dish that has just the right amount of complexity and flavor. A firm favorite of the night, though, was the Torotaku ($158). Exquisitely fresh tuna is subtly flavored, topped with pickled yellow daikon, and wrapped in nori sheets, creating little delicious morsels of heaven that are best eaten by hand.
Moving on to heavier dishes, we try the Chicken Katsu ($168). The dish features tender chicken thighs seasoned with rosemary and chili, fried in panko, and served over a sweet tonkatsu sauce for a dish that crackles with crunchiness and rich, saucy flavor. It’s definitely a winner. Equally compelling is the A4 Wagyu Beef ($298) where thin slices of meat are cut almost carpaccio style, drowned in a shiso ponzu sauce, and served with white daikon, baby carrots, baby corn, and snap peas. It’s a dish that surprises with acidity, a touch of sweetness, and thoroughly tender beef.
To finish, we tried the Skillet Pan Cake which features a pancake made with marshmallows and white chocolate served with Hojicha ice cream. It is almost painfully sweet, but so delicious—though a straightforward vanilla ice-cream would probably have been even nicer, if not quite as Japanese.
Of course, as with any good Izakaya, drinks are important here, too. Roji has a short but solid list of sakes and wines, along with specially crafted Highballs ($95) and signature cocktails. Be sure to try the Saketini ($125) which features Sake, Applewood Gin, Bergamot, Akavit, and Cucumber.
Jeng: All the dishes are genuinely well-executed and delicious. We also love the laidback atmosphere.
Not So Jeng: Roji was unfortunately very quiet when we went in, which meant there wasn’t much atmosphere. Unfortunately, this just seems to be something most restaurants are grappling with during the pandemic—though we’re hopeful that things will pick up and give the space a little more buzz.
FYI: There’s a little outdoor space that’s perfect for really leaning into the Izakaya ethos (read: if you plan to drink more than you eat).
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This writeup was based on a complimentary media tasting. The Loop HK doesn’t guarantee/sell restaurant review coverage. See our editorial policy here.