[Hong Kong] Ta Vie 旅 - Fabulous Birthday Meal
For my birthday this year, I decided to go back to Ta Vie which had been promoted from 1 Michelin star to 2 Michelin stars recently. I was really impressed with lunch last time so I was excited to come back to try Chef Hideaki Sato's food again. We had the 8-course tasting menu ($1880) at night this time and it was even better than my experience last time! The cuisine is French-Japanese fusion but I've noticed that the menu successfully incorporated some Chinese elements as well. It's hard enough to blend two different types of cuisines - let alone three - which points to the chef's skills and deep understanding of flavors. My only feedback is that while the chef's food is very well-balanced in flavor, it can be a bit too safe some times and I think he can afford to push the envelop even more based on his demonstrated ability. In any case, I still had a fabulous time celebrating my birthday at Ta Vie with the chef's wonderful hospitality and I look forward to trying more "tri-fusion" dishes in the future.
We started with the Kegani crab and avocado cocktail with black vinegar sauce covered with chrysanthemum jelly which is supposed to taste a bit like Chinese hairy crab. I thought it was really creative to use Japanese ingredients and French techniques to present a version of the classic Shanghainese dish, and it totally had all the elements of the flavors here but I would have preferred for the the acidity and vinegar taste to be even stronger.
The Cauliflower "a la meuniere" with sea cauliflower was a beautiful presentation of shirako (cod milt) and although I've had my fair share of shirako in Japan, it was my first time hearing it being referred to as sea cauliflower - I guess they do look alike!
The Organic local beetroot with strawberry, house made fresh cheese and black truffle was an impressive combination of ingredients that I never knew could go together so well and J was especially surprised at how great local beetroot tasted.
The "Civet" braised abalone came topped with an abalone shell which turned out to be a puff pastry that you can eat! I almost couldn't believe the shell was edible as the colors and shape looked so realistic. The sauce was so rich and flavorful that I used my bread on the side to lap up every last bit of it.
We were then treated to an off-menu dish from the chef which turned out to be my favorite from lunch last time - Hokkaido uni with house made pasta and fresh seaweed sauce! The uni was super sweet this time and went perfectly with the seaweed pasta sauce.
The Pan-seared Ise lobster with sauce vin jaune Chinois (10 years reserved Chinese yellow wine sauce) was my favorite dish as it was another successful French, Japanese and Chinese fusion dish, and I happily finished off all of the rich fragrant yellow wine sauce with the sweet succulent flesh of the lobster.
The "Charcoal roasted" Wagyu smoked with "Hoba" leaf glazed with Arima pepper sauce was probably the best wagyu I've tasted outside of Japan. I'm a big fan of Japanese beef and the beef here was super juicy and flavorful, but I was even more impressed with the small details like the inclusion of three whole Arima pepper inside the "Hoba" leaf which had more depth of flavor that I'd expected.
Before we transitioned to dessert, we were served this Amazake with yuzu as a palate cleanser. Amazake is a traditional Japanese drink made from fermented rice that normally wouldn't be served at high-end restaurants in Japan and J was impressed at the chef's creative rendition of it to be used as a palate cleanser.
The first dessert "Reminiscing in winter child's play" with Creme d'Ange and mandarin sorbet under "Kamakura" snow igloo was a gorgeous tribute to perhaps the chef's childhood winter memories in Nagano. The mikan (mandarin orange) was so sweet that it reminded us of the ones we tasted in Matsuyama and it turned out that we were right - the mikans were from Ehime prefecture!
The second dessert "Les Feuilles Mortes" fresh chestnuts Mont-Blanc with Pu'er tea ice cream was also impressive as the pu-er tea ice cream had a subtle and delicate aftertaste while the mont-blanc was nicely balanced with a meringue as base.
At the end we had the choice of coffee, herbal tea or matcha and I chose the herbal tea which came with its own little petit four to conclude our meal. My tea came with Japanese kumquat and jelly while J's coffee arrived with a Chocolate mousse in a little jar.
I had a nice chat with the chef and his wife after our meal and even after his restaurant's success (getting recognition from the Michelin Guide and Asia's 50 Best) in a short amount of time, he is still so incredibly humble. It's definitely one of my favorite restaurants in Hong Kong and I'd highly recommend it to anyone who wants to try French-Japanese (and a bit of Chinese) cuisine outside of Japan.
Ta Vie 旅
2/F, The Pottinger
74 Queen’s Road Central, Central
Tel: +852 2668 6488http://tavie.com.hk/
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