Sunday, December 10, 2023

Ode to Celebration

It’s this time of the year for a little celebration and this year it was at Tate Dining Room. We haven’t been back for a while so I figure this is the perfect excuse to check out some of the new dishes by Chef Vicky Lau and her fine team at this venue known for its fancy décor and elegant vibe. 

Chef Vicky’s tasting menu always tells a story, whether that be dedicated to a certain ingredients, or style of cooking. This time it’s named “Ode to Nature’s Symphony” – a little bit of both I guess, said to be celebrating what “nature has bestowed upon us through seasonal ingredeients”, and “showcases the splendor, vitality, and inventive spirit of our culinary creations”. 

We began our dinner with a series of small-bite snacks, all beautifully plated of course. The puff with cheese and truffle filling reminded me of the fried taro puff commonly seen in local dim sum menu, and the combination of that with western style ingredients was interesting. The small bowl of yellowtail carpaccio was the other way round with the western presentation combined with Asian ingredients, with scallion puree and century egg/pei dan “mimosa” under paired with the mildly cured yellowtail slices. I like the use of pei dan for its mellow, balanced flavor. 

Tofu has been the ingredient of choice for Chef Vicky lately (with her new tofu venture), so no surprise that’s the theme of our first course. The silky but firm tofu was formed into a sphere and filled with picked flower crab meat in the center, and on the dish was the “colorful oil”, oil infused with scallions, chives and crab roes. I think the best way to enjoy this is to crash and mix everything together so we got all ingredients in each spoonful – I thought it’s a little too much of the soy flavor overpowering the mild crab, but overall it was refreshing and worked well with the sake that’s poured to pair with the dish. Love the sourdough served piping hot with seaweed butter on the side, and then it was the mushroom dish, with the crispy tart of cep mushroom ragout with Jerusalem artichokes, celtuce and pickled wood ear fungus, and on the side, a small glass of mushroom broth infused with tea leaves, which was intense and tasty. 

The next three courses were dedicated to seafood. Piece of sea bass was seared skin-on, dusted with dried olive powder, and served with green olive sauce with pickled radish, lemongrass foam and soft and creamy potato mash. Like the flavor profile of this – firm fish fillet, some earthy flavor from the olives and then some acidity from the sauce and foam. So many things went on there.  Next was scallop, but it’s the kumquat that Chef Vicky wanted to showcase here. The piece of scallop was cooked mi cuit and served warm, and underneath, an aged kumquat grenobloise-style sauce served like a soft mousse. The sauce was on the sweet side, which I like, but I thought adding some more acidity element would be the icing on the cake. The last seafood course was blue lobster, poached and served with steamed rice flour roll (Cheung fun) piped with scallion-ginger cream with oyster-lobster sauce on the side. A cute play on the local lobster dish usually sauteed with ginger and scallion.

Lamb was the only meat course we had and as our last savory course. French Quercy Lamb, from Midi-Pyrenees region and known for its delicate texture and gamey taste, was styled as roulade with chicken mousse in the center, and on the side, a mini “onigiri” of braised neck of lamb and Sichuan pepper lamb jus. The same dish she’s been showcasing since early summer and well into late autumn, and I think it’s delicious for what it is, and I love the roulade cooked medium rare with tender texture. 

The sweet courses were always the part that I most looked forward to at Tate, and they were all wonderful. The ginger sorbet with coconut-galangal foam underneath was the perfect palate cleanser, followed by the osmanthus-infused apple with oolong ice cream on a shortbread crust underneath. Finally was the series of colorful mignardises, unveiled in a cupboard trolley carted in front of us as we finished our desserts – the caneles was spot-on. 

Went with the 5-glasses pairing option recommended by our friend and restaurant manager Francois, with the exception of the Bordeaux red which I requested to be swapped with something slightly lighter (and in my opinion, matched better to the main course). The “blended sake” created by a Canadian sommelier with an old Japanese brewery was fun to try and worked well with the lighter dishes to start. The slightly longer aging (from vintage 2018) gave more time for the bottle to develop into more a rounded mouthfeel. Of the two dry whites that was served, I like the Meursault slightly more, with the mineral-rich chardonnay added something to the sea bass dish. The burgundy matched perfectly well with the delicate lamb main course, worked in the background with some refreshing red fruits without being overpowering, and we finished with a fine glass of late harvest Gewurtraminer, rounding up nicely with the sweets.

When? October 7 2023
Where? Tate Dining Room, 210 Hollywood Road, Sheung Wan, Hong Kong
Menu Highlights? Ode to Sea Bass – Charcoal Grilled Sea Bass with Green Olive sauce and lemongrass foam
2018 Sake Tanaka 1789 x Chartier "Blend 001" Junmai
2020 Domaine Rougeot Meursault "Sous la Velle"
2018 Domaine Fournier Longchamps Savennieres "La Crois Picot"
2018 Domaine Michel Gay et Fils Savigny-les-Beaune Premier Cru "Serpentieres"
2017 Maison Trimbach Gewurtraminer "Late Harvest", Alsace

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