Ta Vie 旅
The first time i have heard about Chef Hideaki Sato was when he still works at Tenku Ryugin years ago. Had been trained under the legendary Chef Seiji Yamamoto of 3*Ryugin in Tokyo, and was later redirected to Ryugin's oversea branch in Hong Kong - Tenku Ryugin at ICC, which had a great fame and honored Michelin 2 stars by the lead of Chef Hideaki Sato. Early last year, Sato-san left Ryugin group and opened his own restaurant Ta Vie in Central, Hong Kong. This time, Sato-san decided to challenge himself by serving French cuisine with a modern Asian twist. Within half-year of its opening, Ta Vie got its first Michelin star and later positioned at No.48 of Asia's 50 Best Restaurnats 2016 by St.Pellegrino.
* I used the wrong water mark for all the photos in this post , I didn't realize this until i have uploaded all the photos and deleted the original documents. Otherwise i have to edit all the photos again. Sorry for the annoying large water mark :(
Date: Jun.04.2016 (Dinner)
Address: 2/F The Pottinger, 74 Queen's Road Central,
Hours: Lunch: Tue-Sat 12:00-13:30; Dinner Mon-Sat 18:00-21:30; Closed on Sundays
Cost: Lunch 4-course, HK$690 ; Dinner 8-course HK$1,880+
Ta Vie 旅 means “Your Life” in French, and ‘journey’ in Japanese. Chef Hideaki Sato aim to bring a magical journey by serving Asian-infused French food. The restaurant located on the second storey of a boutique hotel The Pottinger in heart of the Central Hong Kong. The interior of the restaurant combines a European and Asia styles which brings an upscale and elegant breeze.
A tasting menu include eight courses priced at HK$1880 is served at Ta Vie. Dinner menu is ONLY available during dinner time even with a special request. Lunch menu is more reasonably priced at HK$690 for 4 courses.
With a RyuGin DNA, chef Hideaki Sato also loves to serve special edition drinks to pair with his food even mineral water. The Japanese spring water has a natural and mild sweetness which gives a warm welcome before staring the meal.
To be honest, my partner and I felt a little bit worry when the first dish came to the table with a quite fishy smell, but all the worries disappeared since the first bite. The mousse was so airy and naturally sweet, with bouncy rarely touched Botan shrimp in the center and its jelly to give umami flavors, every bite was quite enjoyable.
By using homemade yeast, the warm sourdough arrives the table, side with butter infused by natural yeast with a pinch of crystal salt. Loved the bread with a golden crust and soft inside.
To continue, we were served a warm dish of Japanese rock oyster with consommé reduction sauce. The oyster was huge and very meaty, the consommé reduction sauce has a Cantonese twist which went through the large oyster very well. The only disappointment here was the slightly overwhelming sauce.
Hotaru squid (firefly squid) is one of the best Spring produce in Japan. I had been eating it in many ways but the first time in a salad. The squid brought a burst of umami to the crispy lettuce, the dressing on the side too enhanced the oceanic flavours. I found it a pretty creative and interesting creation but not my preferred way to have Hotaru squid.
White asparagus was in season and i'm quite glad to have this huge Japanese white asparagus which was nicely seared, its water contents was kept to its best. Scallops were too well-prepared, inside the slightly crispy outside was a rarely touch center. The crispy white sesame dentall added a sweet twist to the dish.
In comparison, i was more impressed by the Japanese-infused simmered black abalone an water ballon eggplant. The abalone was tender and rubbery, the eggplant as well as Japanese ravigote sauce give a juicy and refreshing twist. Now ready for the main courses.
Another dish with a stronger Asian twist was the pigeon, which served with aged mandarin peel and spices, the sauce with a glazed sweetness matches well with the pigeon. I loved the flavourful meat, the skin was touched with a layer of pepper which added a crispness. While i found it could be better with less fat underneath the skin.
Chef Hideaki Sato came out the kitchen with each dish for the guests and patiently explain the food and story behind each dish, which is another enjoy part of the meal. He showed us the Hoba leaf used to roast the Wagyu, which gives the beef a mildly woody aroma. The wagyu was nothing but succulent and delicious, with a lovely char-grilled flavour from its outer-layer.
Before stepping to the dessert, we were served an off-menu dish of homemade pasta with Aonori (green seaweed) sauce and fresh sea urchin. The al dante pasta went really well with the creamy sea urchin, both the seaweed as well as the sea urchin give umami flavours to the dish. Awesome dish to cleanse the palates.
After being served a small cup of iced lemon grass tea arrives the first dessert. Almond tofu is a traditional Chinese sweet, this one from Ta Vie was soft and silky, the summer fruits works very well with the tofu as well as the oolong tea jelly.
It is hard not to think of Quintessence in Tokyo when one mentions meringue ice cream, while my last impression of the meringue ice cream from Quintessence was not that pleasant for its over-sweeteness. Ta Vie changed my opinion of meringue this time, it balanced very well with the lemon confirm cream and meringue 'butterflies'. The toasted puffs on the bottom gives a crispy texture to the entire dish.
To pair with the petits, i chose the freshly whisked matcha. My last visit matcha experience at Tenku Ryugin after Sato-san left was really disappointing, it just tastes like water with matcha power which totally has no depth. The matcha at Ta Vie was satisfying.
Chef Hideaki Sato made some canele for us, which was his first time baking and serving canele, such a prestige :D He used the famous Philippine Don Papa rum he just brought back from Philippines, the canele was pretty large but so worth the calories. Loved its crunchy crust and a chewy inside with a lovely rum flavour.
Chef Hideaki Sato
Although few dishes would be done better, the dining experience at Ta Vie was overall satisfying and we coincided that Chef Hideaki Sato showcases his skills and proved the stars he had won. Most dishes have a strong Asian twist and i liked the philosophy behind the creations. Sato-san's wife is also help running the restaurant, she picks all the wines at the restaurant to pair the dishes. Besides the satisfying food and drinks, the service was efficient and the servers have a good knowledge of the food they are serving. I am not sure whether everyone is willing to pay that much for western food in Hong Kong, for me, i definitely recommend Ta Vie if you seek to impress your partners or even yourself.