Monday, August 1, 2022

Ode to Seaweed

Complications due to COVID restrictions meant our February booking at Tate Dining Room got pushed not once but twice, first to April and then to June. We were supposed to try their "Ode to Seaweed" menu when the menu was first launched and turned out we were there on the last weekend before they moved onto the next theme for the summer. 

Anyway we finally made it on a nice sunny afternoon one weekend during my little break. It's been over 12 months since our last visit and I definitely enjoyed it more this time with a well-thought-of menu and solid execution by Chef Vicky's team. 

The menu was presented in six courses, each highlighting a different kind of seaweed, which was more widely used in Asian cuisines than in the western world but Chef Vicky managed to blend the both worlds seamlessly. And before we started, a few bite-sized courses were offered as amuse bouche, including the crunchy sourdough nori crackers, smoked eel mousse tartlet, braised octopus with pickled celtuce served in a neat, silver-plated skewer and chawanmushi (steamed egg custard) with dulse seaweed, dashi and squid in a small porcelain bowl. What a combination of refreshing flavor to start.

We then moved on to the first course of "Kombu" with the rehydrated dry kelp (kombu) made into a roll and inside, soft and airy scallop mousse mixed with picked local crab topped with wakame salad and Kristal caviar. Then it's Hijiki, the brown wild seaweed in narrow threads and slightly crunchy served with white asparagus and razor clams with a Chinese yellow wine sauce. Couldn't go wrong with the rich mineral ocean flavor though I personally would prefer the clams be slightly less cooked for a better texture. 

After the "intermission" of brioche served with whipped seaweed butter (of course!), we moved to something stronger flavored, with the piece of Hokkaido scallop pan-seared with seaweed butter and topped with dried Chiuchow laver seaweed and a dab of dried scallop sauce. Reminded me of the Cantonese-style sauteed scallop with XO Sauce and fried clethra leaves, only fancier. 

The piece of langoustine was well cooked and served with a thickened chicken jus to add on the intensity in flavor. On the side was an impressive potato seaweed millefeuille, with paper-thin pieces of potatoes and winged kelp (wakame) placed on top of one another formed into a cylindrical shape and baked. 

We continued with yet another seafood dish, this time the threadfin fillet steamed and served with braised fennel dressed with aonori ankake sauce (a potato starch thicken sauce made with aonori and dashi) Threadfin is a versatile species catching the attention of many local-based chefs but while steaming is a typical way of preparation if the fish was caught in the wild, the farmed one (which I suspect the one we had was) would be better off pan-frying to hide the hint of that earthy taste. That said, the dish was decent. 

Dessert was another beauty with jasmine mousse and arame seaweed-poached meringue topped with green apple slices and a quenelle of mild green tea icecream on top and lastly, chocolate tuile in seaweed shape plus the creamy green tea "rocher" as midnardises.

We asked Francois, our friend and manager of the restaurant for a wine pairing with a single glass (need a break after the whole weekend of heavy drinking), and he pointed us to a bottle of Pouilly Fuisse on the wine menu. Full-bodied, light straw color, rich minerality, some pears and citrus acidity on the palate. Matched well with the seaweed and seafood which were both umami and mineral rich. 

More photos here: 

When? June 4 2022
Where? Tate Dining Room, 210 Hollywood Road, Sheung Wan
Menu Highlights: Potato Seaweed Mllefeuille, langoustine, chicken jus, sprinkled with sesame, seaweed, dried prawn powder
Drink? 2018 Chateau Fuisse "Les Combettes" Pouilly Fuisse

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