NEW Restaurant Review – Tate Dining Room reopens in Hong Kong
Tate is no stranger to beauty. The elegant restaurant epitomises grace and refinement, from its enchanting interiors to its spellbinding cuisine. After earning a coveted Michelin star and the title of Asia’s Best Female Chef in 2015, the former graphic designer turned critically acclaimed chef Vicky Lau took a break from the restaurant to journey to Kyoto to intern at three-Michelin-starred KITCHO, immersing herself in the intricate art of kaiseki cuisine. This experience gave her a greater appreciation for Japanese sensibility towards the four seasons, and Tate’s new menu reflects this intimate knowledge of seasonal ingredients.
The new Tate Dining Room and Bar relocates from Elgin Street to a larger, more versatile venue on Hollywood Road. Designed by James JJ Acuna of Bespoke Architecture, the 3,800-square-foot space is divided between a 30-guest main dining room, a 12-guest private room and a smaller Chef’s Table that also welcomes little diners (read: kids!) to the fine dining establishment. Soft taupe, muted pink and brushed gold set the colour palate, bathing the space in demure feminine elegance.
The new menu is divided into two prix-fixe options, with an additional vegetarian prix-fixe menu available for herbivores. The narrative revolves around ‘edible stories’ as Chef Lau hopes that each bite ‘will evoke desire, inspiration, harmony and obsession’ in her diners. Sustainability also plays an important part at the new Tate. Tables are covered in synthetic leather sheets that can easily be wiped down, making clean-up a breeze while maintaining aesthetic appeal. House-grown plants such as sweet potato saplings adorn the tables, giving the dining room an organic feel with living vegetation that can be used again and again. No bottled water is served at Tate. Instead the restaurant filters its own still water and creates its own sparkling water, served in reusable glass bottles.
Inspired by Pablo Neruda’s book All the Odes, Chef Lau has created an eight-course tasting menu that pays homage to the life of food. Our tasting included some highlights from this particular menu, which is priced at $1,580 per person, with an extra $580 for wine pairings.
To start, we ripped into the freshly baked sourdough and smothered the warm, tender interior with kombu (kelp) butter.
Aptly termed Ode to Scallop, the shellfish ceviche arrived nestled in a beautiful mother-of-pearl bowl, topped with scallop foam, caviar and crunchy potatoes. Crispy rice paper dotted with sakura shrimp and edible flowers completed this pretty ensemble. A perfect cube of dried brioche with fermented tofu butter (pictured above) accompanied the seafood dish. The sweetness of the scallop and airiness of the foam played off nicely against the briny caviar and umami-fermented tofu butter.
In Ode to Tea, a savoury tea supreme broth was poured tableside over a fried piece of flaky white fish. Julienned Ibérico ham provided an additional layer of savouriness. The dish was both light and comforting thanks to the delicate fish and soothing broth.
Abalone plays a key role in Cantonese cuisine, so it made sense to have it be the focal point in Ode to Hong Kong. The tender slices of shellfish came brushed in tuna jus, with abalone liver sauce dotted on the plate like briny, umami jewels. We loved every morsel of this dish. The abalone tasted so meaty it almost felt like we were eating beef.
As an homage to Chef Lau’s heritage, the Ode to Chiu Chow Classic stayed true to the traditional spices used in the hallmark marinade of Chiu Chow cuisine. Toasted star anise, peppercorn, bay leaf and orange peel created an aromatic bed of intoxicating flavours and enhanced the broth within the foie gras royale, which was topped with marinated goose. The silky-smooth foie gras reminded us of the bean curd that usually accompanies a platter of Chiu Chow–marinated goose. The slices of goose breast were incredibly tender and infused with the flavours of the spice blend. We ate slowly in order to savour each spoonful of this culinary bliss.
Kagoshima beef tenderloin usually comes in this course of Ode to Meat, although we opted to try the pigeon. The delicate game bird was cooked to a perfect blushing pink and was succulent with plenty of robust flavour.
For dessert, Ode to Tomato was an effervescent blend of tomato and strawberry alongside honey ice cream that really complemented one another in flavour. Who would have thought?
We wish we could live here. Beautiful food, served against an equally beautiful setting by an innovative young chef who’s constantly reinventing and improving her techniques – it’s easy to see why Tate has been revered the world over. Tate has most definitely made it onto our top-recommendations list, and we were already dreaming of our next visit before we even stepped out the door.
Keep an eye out for Poem Patisserie, which is slated to open in March on the ground floor of Tate Dining Room and Bar. The boutique will offer a wide range of delicate and innovative desserts for takeaway.
210 Hollywood Road, Sheung Wan, Hong Kong, +852 2555 2172