Vea: Excellent Fine Dining in Hong Kong
I had the pleasure of dining at Vea for a celebratory anniversary dinner with my husband this year. Vea which received a Michelin Star recently is opened by Chef Vicky Cheng, who brings Young Modern French Cuisine influenced by Asian flavors to Hong Kong. His dishes have ties to his Hong Kong roots and heritage which I thoroughly enjoyed, as I am also deeply rooted in the familiar flavors of Hong Kong cuisine.
Vea is separated into two floors. On the 29th floor, they have the Vea lounge where Antonio Lai, award winning international mixologist helms their bar dishing out creative cocktails. The lounge also has some bar bites which you can nosh on if you want to just enjoy the lounge itself with friends. On the 30th floor, you will find Vea Restaurant, where there’s a beautiful open kitchen facing the 25 counter seats that run the length of the entire kitchen. There’s also a few cosy tables with booth seating that offers a more intimate dining experience away from the hustle bustle of the kitchen. While normally, I would jump at a chance to dine at the chef’s counter, this was an exception. Since we were celebrating our anniversary, we felt the private booth arrangement would be more appropriate and romantic.
Before we headed to dinner, we stopped at the lounge and had a drink and tried two of their bar bites.
My husband ordered the apple….and found it a bit sweet. While the cocktails sounded interesting, I found them all erring on the sweet side based on the descriptions, heavy on the fruit juices which I’m not a fan of so I skipped on ordering a cocktail.
Before the food arrived they presented us with a neat little dish that held a mini flask of rose water used to hydrate a napkin which you use to wipe your fingers with. Then the truffle fries arrived which were delicious and cleverly presented. The dirt you see on the cream is the black truffle which you dip your fries in.
The buttermilk fried chicken bao with blue cheese and cabbage slaw was a bit of a miss for me. The fried chicken although very juicy and crispy were too salty. Combine that with the strong flavor of blue cheese and it becomes too much for one bite.
So the food at the lounge wasn’t much to rave about nor were the cocktails, but we were happy to have experienced it and now was ready for our dinner upstairs.
Upon arriving to Vea, we were welcomed by our server who took incredible care of us. The table was set beautifully and he started us on a bottle of pink champagne right away. After our first sip, we were notified that we already had our first course on the table. What I thought were decorative leaves and bark on the table were actually edible chips made from vegetables, carrots, sweet potato, and eggplant. The eggplant bark was my favorite it was super delicate, crispy and flavorful. It has a hint of sweetness to it that made me think I was eating some kind of tuile that you may find on a dessert. I would buy it if they made these as packed snacks.
After we finished eating our table decor our server explained the first course as being several savory snacks to be presented course by course while again presenting us with a small tray with rose water used to hydrate a napkin to clean your hands before enjoying the rest of the savory snacks, all to be eaten with your hands.
Shortly there after our meal began at perfect pace…
First Course, part 1: Vegetable leaves and bark
First Course, part 2: Salted Swordish with Potato, micro-herbs paired with a floral dragon needle tea
Delicious! Salted fish is common in Cantonese cuisine and the combination of potato with salted fish flavors speaks to the Portuguese dish croquettes of bacalao with whipped potato.The crispy bottom provided a nice contrast to the filling
First Course, part 3: Steamed Chinese Bun w/ Smoked Osetra Caviar and Sour Cream
Another delicious bite combining a little of French and Asian into one
Egg-celent! The flavor in this tiny quail egg was incredible. Smoked eggs with a perfectly cooked creamy yolk is a common dish in Chinese Cuisine but to then pickle it just, balanced out the whole bite. It reminds me of pickled deviled eggs which I think can be good but this dish right here beats it out of the park.
This dish deserves a standing ovation. No joke! Hands down the best dish of the night and definitely top 5 on the list of best things I’ve eaten this year. What we have here is delicate slices of shima aji wrapped around a tartare of shima aji, topped with edible flowers and herbs, served with a beautiful sauce made with longan fruit, lemon balm, herbs, and young ginger. The sauce had the perfect balance of sweet and sour coming from different fruits, accented by the freshness of the herbs and the spiciness of the young ginger. The dish is to be enjoyed slowly as it’s served on a frozen glass plate injected with alcohol to keep it below 0 and cold enough to freeze the remaining sauce into a sorbet after you finish the fish. You then enjoy scrape the remaining sorbet like sauce and enjoy it as a palate cleanser. You know this dish is good when the pickiest eater, my husband asks for a repeat on this course which the chef happily served.
The sauce was my favorite part of this dish. It was a creamy shrimp sauce made with smoked creamed cauliflower, butter, with a touch of acid from yuzu. The seafood was cooked very well but got lost in the delicious sauce.
I really really wanted to love this dish because I understand every bit of where this dish comes from conceptually. In fact I think the idea of the dish is genius in that it combines two of the most traditional and highly respected Cantonese style dishes into one. Cooking sea cucumber is an art form in Cantonese cuisine which he has done incredibly well here. Texturally it was on point. Flowery crab with aged shao xing wine, chicken fat, and rice noodle is another highly regarded traditional dish which he layered beneath the sea cucumber. Two distinctly flavorful and rich dishes combined into one was just overkill for me. My husband had a scallop dish that replaced the sea cucumber since he won't eat sea cucumber
I however also got their special: Hokkaido Uni Tagliatelle w/ White Truffle
When they presented me with the beautiful display of uni and truffle I knew their special for the night had to be inserted into one of my courses. They asked if I would like to supplement and I gladly said yes!
This first thing I noticed about this dish was how generous they were with the shavings. They shaved 3 kinds of white truffle with a heavy hand, covering the entire pasta dish with truffle. Huge bonus for me…pasta was cooked perfectly al dente…the sauce was terrific although heavy on the uni flavor for me which means, the generous truffle shavings ended up played a minor supporting role in this dish. As delicious as this dish was, it just felt wasteful to have all that truffle masked by the flavor of uni. So next time, I’ll have my Tagliolini with White Truffle and only with White Truffle, nothing else.
Such a cute presentation and thoughtful version of the bread course. My only complaint was that the yuotao was not freshly fried and hot. Otherwise it would have been just perfect!
While I wasn’t blown away by this dish, I did enjoy all the flavors. The earthiness of the coffee complemented the smoked Pigeon. The pigeon breast draped with lardo was juicy and buttery. The thigh was bit skinny so it didn’t have the juiciness I would expect from a well cooked pigeon.
I loved this dish! The shortrib was cooked perfectly and the winter melon was phenomenal. Winter melon is very common in cantonese cuisine and I’ve eaten my fair share of this vegetable, but mostly in soups that end up being pretty bland tasting. Never have I had it with something so rich and flavorful before and the fact that they fried the melon and coated it in the sauce, made the exterior super delicious. You get a little crisp along with the soft moist interior of the melon that melts in your mouth. They turned a vegetable that wasn’t my favorite into a vegetable I could dream about eating.
This is my kind of dessert. Not too sweet with a nice balance of citrus. I’m a huge fan of desserts that have hint of sour and sweet as it’s lighter and more refreshing. I don’t have the biggest sweet tooth so I don’t need the decadent rich desserts laden with butter, cream or chocolate. Kumamoto Strawberries are super sweet and aromatic so they layered some slices of it on the base of the dessert and topped it a yuzu sorbet, tomato strawberry “salad”, tomato tuile, shies leaf chip, and frozen rice crispy.
At this point, I’m pretty stuffed and didn’t think I would really eat much of this dessert since it sounded like it might be on the sweeter richer side. Chestnuts are commonly used in Chinese desserts, especially cakes so I knew this would be an ode to the Chinese Chestnut cakes we use to eat ALL the time for birthdays. It consisted of sponge cake, pureed chestnut, chestnut cream, and a ton of whipped cream. The Hokkaido milk gelato with slices of black truffle on top was marvelous. I really didn’t expect to be all over this dish but that gelato truffle alone was a winner already. Pairing the gelato with the sweet chestnut cream was surprisingly also very good. All in all, I enjoyed this dish even though it was a little no the sweeter side for me.
And finally to our surprise, the same tray we had earlier with the test tube of rose water with a napkin was brought to us again but this time, they advised us that it’s edible. This time what looks like the dry napkin waiting to be hydrated was a marshmallow and the test tube was a lychee rose tea. Cool way to end the dinner!