The Centrepoint’s revamp have seen many new and interesting F&B concepts opening up in the mall recently, such as Tensho Japanese Speciality Tendon by MOF. ROOST, which is situated behind Tensho, specialises in the local favourite Hainanese Chicken Rice.
Unlike most eateries which served local fare, ROOST ditches the nostalgic theme for a modern, minimalist and chic style for the restaurant. The interior boasts wood partitions and tables with gold accents, monotone seats with wood accents as well as cement and tile flooring, exuding a simple, modern yet elegant touch. ROOST prides itself for being the first restaurant for using the iKook for the cooking of their chicken, which is a Singapore-made machine that automates the poaching/braising of the chicken, taking inspiration from Krispy Kreme’s automated donut-making process which is said to be more hygienic and delivers consistent results. The menu features mostly local fare with their chicken for mains, though they do have quite a number of interesting sharing plates and desserts available. Those who are interested in the chicken being cooked from the iKook machine can also go for the Signature Chicken menu which features the standard Hainanese Chicken Rice with choices of both Soya Sauce Chicken and Poached Chicken (or both, dubbed the Yin Yang Chicken Rice) available.
We had come across the menu online before heading down, and one of the items that simply stood out to us was the Chicken Sushi. Taking an innovative approach to serving chicken rice, the Chicken Sushi is Chicken Rice in sushi form. While the rice was pretty fragile and could easily split if one tries to pinch it with the chopstick just a little too forcefully, the flavours replicated the real deal pretty well. This felt identical to Unagi Nigiri texturally with the chicken sliced thinly while the rice was drizzled in Teriyaki sauce which quite replicates the soy sauce flavour of Chicken Rice. A great bite-sized snack for those who are feeling peckish but yet craving for chicken rice, though I would have preferred it to be accompanied by a dollop of chicken rice chilli or a saucer of chilli as a dip so as to appeal to those who like their food with a tinge of spiciness.
Yet another interesting dish offered here are the Crispy Chicken Rice Balls. The concept is pretty identical to the Chicken Rice Balls which is now pretty much a rare find, but these are encased in a crispy batter for they are deep-fried. The rice balls were tightly packed and carry a light yet detectable flavour of ginger and chicken stock; pretty much like the rice we have in Hainanese Chicken Rice. Accompanying the rice balls was the Curry Mayo dip. While the Curry Mayo dip was largely heavy on mayo for the most part, the curry powder still manages to pull through especially when the rice balls were dipped into it to enhanced the overall flavour of the dish.
As mentioned in the earlier paragraphs, the Chicken Laksa came with a portion of their signature poached chicken on the side. The Laksa itself was generally decent, with evident flavours of the rempah spices that is used for the broth while coming with a hint of coconut milk fragrance or that lemak flavour. The poached chicken on the side was slippery smooth and tender, while doused in a sauce for that savoury touch.
My dining partner does not like durian, which probably was a good thing since that meant that I could have the Durian Creme Brulee to myself. After having quite a number of Creme Brulee that was not executed the right way, this came as a surprise for it was pretty well-executed considering ROOST is an eatery serving largely local fare than being a western restaurant. The crackling layer of sugar covered the entire ramekin and shattering the sugar crystal to dig into the Creme Brulee was delightful. Inside, the Creme Brulee carries a hint of pungent durian that instantly hits on first taste though the flavour was rather intermittent thereafter; occasionally showing up in the midst of the egginess of the Creme Brulee. Still, it does definitely satisfy cravings for Creme Brulee and works well for those who like durian-flavoured desserts.
If you have friends like my dining partner who dislikes durian but loves coffee, the Nanyang Panna Cotta is one of the desserts that one should go for. On the top, the layer of coffee might seem jelly-like but was more of a mousse in terms of texture; intensely aromatic with its coffee flavour but goes very well with the creamy Panna Cotta beneath. Think of it as a richer Kopiko candy but less than cloying sweetness and that aftertaste that comes after; probably one of those coffee-flavoured desserts that I would consider having to get some caffeine in my system especially if I had missed my morning cuppa.
ROOST might sound like one of those places that try to be pretentious and perhaps even “atas” with local fare, especially with attempts on the menu such as the Chicken Sushi and Crispy Chicken Rice Balls. While there are some things to improve on to enhance the overall flavours of the dishes, the affordable price point of ROOST as compared to other eateries within the vicinity (no individual portion of main is above $10) is definitely one of the factors that would attract hungry patrons to ROOST. The food quality is also pretty decent and slightly above average of eateries with similar price points in shopping centres even outside of Orchard, and service was also satisfactory. A place for chicken rice lovers to try out, especially for the automated cooking process of their chicken and also for those looking for an affordable meal within Orchard/Somerset without resorting to fast food restaurants, coffeeshops or food courts.
176 Orchard Road