Rook, you guys, is one of the most creative and tasty places we’ve got going around here. Hubby hadn’t been to the new location so we headed over there on one of those nights when it was still unseasonably warm and sat outside—they’ve done a nice job with the outside seating. Even though it’s pretty near the street, it feels a little calmer than many places.
We started out with the steamed pork bun ($5). A friend had insisted we get the Spam bun because she says it is amazing, but hubby couldn’t be swayed from the pure pork version. And it is really delicious. The soft doughy bun and the just right crispy pork belly with no too much fat. My favorite part is the homemade pickles giving it a fresh crunch and some acid. There’s a sprinkle of peanuts and some hoisin sauce too. So good.
We also got an order of the fried pigs’ ears with fermented black bean mayo and a 63-degree egg ($8). We have had tasty pig’s ears before, but they are often too chewy. THESE WERE SO GOOD. You couldn’t sop eating them. It was almost like eating light fried pork skins—super crispy and not at all chewy. That mayo had a little tanginess to it as well, and well, you know me, put a perfectly runny egg on top of that mayo and it may just be the perfect dish. No way we would ever pass this by if it’s on the menu. Dipping the pigs’ ears into that runny egg and mayo was just perfection.
For our second round, we had the Ora King salmon poke ($18) and the Vietnamese crepe ($17). We really enjoyed the salmon—really nice-sized cubes of raw salmon—and if you aren’t familiar with Ora King, it’s super buttery and delicious (you can get it at Caplinger’s if you want to experiment at home). And then the salmon was served in a bowl on a bed of rice and flavored with soy, charred seaweed, sesame seeds and an avocado cream. There was also a big egg yolk in the middle of the dish, which made it into a rich, decadent dish. We really enjoyed it, but it was so rich, I was glad to be sharing it. I don’t think I could have eaten this whole thing on my own.
If I was going to pick a least favorite item of the evening, it was the Vietnamese pancake. And these are typically one of my favorite things in Vietnamese cuisine. It was stuffed with a large amount of duck confit, boiled egg, bean sprouts and bacon. It was drizzled with fermented chili aioli and had a side of a fish sauce-based sauce to season with. I’m not sure what made this dish a little lackluster for me, but I think it was the fact that there was a little too much of the filling inside (you couldn’t really appreciate the crepe itself) and the fillings were on the whole cold. When I have had this elsewhere in the past, the fillings are quickly sautéed or something so they are warm. Maybe they just put so much in there, it couldn’t all get warm before the crepe was totally done. The boiled egg was a new thing for me in a crepe like this. I appreciated some of it, but still, there was just a little too much.
All in all, this was a really good dinner. The first two items blew us away and we were also really impressed with the salmon. I love the way the menu varies from visit to visit. Hubby was also really impressed with the new (ish) digs, as they just feel more sophisticated, while it remains casual and approachable still.
If you haven’t been to Rook, you owe it to yourself to check it out for sure. It is certainly one of the most interesting places we have going and the food quality (and service for that matter) is very high. Can’t wait to try some other new things.
501 Virginia Ave