[Hong Kong] VEA - Creative Cocktails & Bites in the Lounge

Rating: ❤❤❤❤

VEA Restaurant & Lounge is the brainchild of "Vicky et Antonio" from Chef Vicky Cheng of Liberty Private Works and famed mixologist Antonio Lai of Quinary, The Envoy and Origin. When I first heard that one of my favorite restaurant LPW had closed down, I was disappointed but luckily it turned out that Chef Vicky left to open up his own restaurant offering modern French with Asian influences and partnered up with Antonio to offer cocktail pairing which is less common in Hong Kong. The restaurant is split into two floors with the 30/F as the fine dining restaurant and the 29/F as the more casual lounge with vastly different decor and offerings. The proper restaurant only offers one set dinner menu at $1280 and wine/cocktail pairing at $680 whereas you can order a la carte at the lounge with an extensive list of creative cocktails and snacks to choose from which is where I went to check out after work one night!

I got to see the restaurant upstairs as well so I got the see how different the decor were on both floors with the fine dining room being more elegant with a light color scheme while the lounge was more masculine with dark wooden furniture and sport rackets on the ceiling. Located in highrise The Wellington, the lounge also has a balcony where smokers can go outside to steal a smoke while admiring views of Central. 

The cocktail menu was basically divided into 4 different categories - Sour, Savory, Strong and Sweet - and I got to sample one from each:

[SOUR] This dramatic Cleopatra Formosa ($150) was my favorite cocktail of the night with mezcal and Absolut Elyz shaken with clarified pineapple star anise syrup and a splash of fresh lime juice. Served in an inverted golden pineapple, I loved the refreshing taste of the cocktail and the smoky pine aroma which was unexpected yet delightful - it was a drink that played with all your senses!

[SAVORY] The Salted Negroni ($140) with Beefeater gin, Campari and Carpano Antica Formua was a twist on a classic with a touch of salt. If the Cleopatra was a ladies' cocktail, then this was every bit a gentleman's drink.

[STRONG] Garnished with Mediterranean olive, the Pistachio Martini ($150) with redistilled pistachio Absolut vodka and Cocchi Americano was true to its category as it was the strongest of the cocktails we tried, but I couldn't really taste the pistachio in the martini though.

[SWEET] The Peanut Butter Milkshake ($120) with white chocolate liqueur, Frangelico, half & half, and a pinch of salt was a perfect sweet ending as I loved this playful drink which came in a milk carton glass! Just be careful where you grab the glass because the decorations on the outside were actually candy hearts and they got all over my hands (oops!).

Moving onto the food, the Raw Oyster ($58) with smoked salmon roe, crispy fish skin and mango relish was a familiar dish that I have tried before at Liberty Private Works so it was good to be able to sample Chef Vicky's creation again. You have to eat it in one bite to get all the flavors and textures working together but I thought the size of the oyster was a tad too big to eat in one go with all the garnishes.

The Parmesan Truffle Fries ($68) with truffle mayo was my favorite dish of the night! I loved the playful presentation of the crispy fries in a burlap sack and the truffle mayo as dirt on a shovel and work glove. The smell was super aromatic and enticing while the truffle flavor was just as wonderful and not artificial at all - I had to stop myself from diving straight in before taking pictures!

The Chicken Liver Mousse ($108) was rich and smooth which served as a great snack to eat with the grilled flat bread.

The Sichuan Chili Red Prawn ($138) which was spicy enough but I'm not sure if this is something I would want to eat in a lounge with cocktails. It just seems more fitted to eat in a proper sit down Sichuan restaurant.

The Iberico Pork Katsu Sandwich ($58) with pineapple bun and shaved cabbage was more successful combining the Asian elements together. Unlike the regular pineapple bun you get at a bakery, the pineapple bun here was crispy throughout which could be a bit dry so it could have used more sauce to balance it out. I thought it was an interesting combo that could work with a little tweak here and there. 

Lastly we ended the night with this delightful Warm House Baked Pineapple Bun ($38) with chilled caramel butter! The pineapple bun had a similar crispy texture as the pork bun but the bun worked better here with a thick slab of sinfully rich caramel butter which prevented it from being too try to eat. 

Verdict - Initially I thought I would have to eat another meal after VEA Lounge but after a night of drinking different cocktails and snacks, I ended up being quite full actually! I thought both the cocktails and food were well thought out and I wouldn't mind coming here again with friends to chill in the evening. Not everyone can afford to eat fine dining everyday which makes the lounge even more appealing as you still get to experience Vicky and Antonio's mastery without breaking your wallet!

*By Invitation 

VEA Restaurant & Lounge
29/F-30/F, The Wellington
198 Wellington Street, Central
Tel: +852 2711 8639

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