In another visit in Nov, Ta Vie introduced us to another couple of their very innovative creations that fused the best of French techniques with the freshest Japanese ingredients.
Tasting menu from Asian ingredients
In the 10-course “Taste of Asian ingredients” degustation menu that we have chosen, the ingredients were picked from the freshest of the season from around Japan.
Ta Vie churned their own butter to go with their in-house nukazuke (糠漬け) bread. Ricotta + a touch of olive oil is also provided. It’s super smooth with a mild tang. The touch of olive oil provides another layer of flavor in terms of bitterness and fruit.
1/ Bean sprout “dou miao” and Hokkaido mussels with white wine sauce, bean sprout cake salè
Placed inside a mussel shell, the bean sprout cake imitates the color and shape of a mussel. It’s savory from the fish stock base with a touch of sweetness. On the other hand, the texture is dense crumbly texture which reminds me of a cross between a biscuit and cake.
The squid ink crisps atop the mussels mimick the actual shells which juxtaposed with the cake salé being the bivalve. The mollusks are perfectly cooked and plump while the bean sprouts, leeks, and potato give the dish various texture contrasts along with complexity to each bite.
2/ Cauliflower “a la meunière” with sea cauliflower (cod milt), white sesame dentelle
Once again, ingredients are used to imitate each other and it’s the cauliflower and cod milt’s turn. The cod milt is as soft, smooth, and creamy as the lightest egg custard you can think of. Flavor wise, it reminds me of a more intense and savory version of uni with sweetness dialed back. The accompanying anchovy brown butter sauce stood up well to the cod milt without overpowering its delicate flavor while lending its saltiness to the crunchy charred cauliflower. Lastly, sesame tuile’s crispiness and the cauliflower puree brought another dimension to the two main ingredients’ diametrically opposed texture.
3/”Aori” squid and avocado tartar with oscietra caviar
Ta Vie’s cooking has a touch of whimsy and this course is no different. The “plate” acts as a palette and you’re instructed to mix the colorful ingredients much like a painter would mix colors on theirs. You have tang from the mystery dressing, creaminess from avocado, mild sweetness and chew from the chunky Bigfin squid, freshness and brightness from the brunoise tomato, delicate onion flavor from the finely chopped chives, and ocean salinity from the Russian caviar to tie them all together. To top it off, two light and incredibly thin squid ink chips with lots of umami are provided to pair with the tartare which added another layer of flavor of texture to the dish.
4/ Housemade pasta wth “Aonori” seaweed sauce topped with Hokkaido “Bafun” uni
This was a repeat from the June menu. The Aonori seaweed provided the umami to the al dente pasta, and the Bafun uni just nailed the dish with its creaminess and intensity in flavours. It was consistent to the previous visit, no surprises.
5/ Gobou “Japanese burdock” soup with cheese foam, oven egg, white truffle
White truffles were in season. Meticulously harvested by hand from the Piedmont region in Italy, the ‘white diamonds of Alba’ are known for its spectacular aroma and fragrance.
The white truffle immediately gives off an intoxicating aroma and provides bursts of that classic intensely earthy flavor to the rich and creamy soup. The burdock soup, to me, tastes similar to artichoke that’s a bit more sharp and piquant. However, the light cheese foam got lost in the mix. Lastly, the onseng egg provides a slippery smooth texture contrast without imparting flavor of any kind to the dish.
6/ “Civet” braised abalone covered with “abalone shell”
Another repeat of the June menu. The flavorful mollusk is tender but it retained a pleasant chew mouthfeel. Abalone liver sauce, on the other hand, is tamed down and rounded out with butter.
7/ Roasted French Challans duck breast with 福建岩茶 “rock tea” flavoured sauce
Challans Ducks are French ducks, raised for their lean, tender flesh, and famous for their use at La Tour d’Argent restaurant in Paris, as “Canard au Sang” (“Pressed Duck.”) The ducks are raised in the Vendée area of France. They are allowed to roam along the canals, where rush nests are built for them. They forage for themselves free-range during this time, eating bugs, snails, tadpoles, etc. When they are 8 weeks old, they are gathered into pens for fattening for market.
Duck is cooked 2 ways: roasted and confit. Roasted duck is cooked to a rare side of medium rare with semi-crispy skin which paired nicely with the deeply savory sauce that has a touch of sweetness to round things out. The accompanying Maitake shrooms are cooked perfectly…earthy with a hint of smokiness from the charred crispy edges. Rounding out the dish is the Chrysanthemum greens that give the dish a much needed freshness lift and act as a palate cleanser. Duck confit has a crispy skin but the meat was on the dry side.
8/ “Charcoal roasted” wagyu
The “Charcoal roasted” Wagyu smoked with “Hoba” leaf glazed with Arima pepper sauce was was super juicy and flavourful, but I was even more impressed with the small details like the inclusion of three whole Arima pepper inside the “Hoba” leaf which had more depth of flavour that I’d expected.
It’s a tea with a mix of hibiscus, orange, and chrysanthemum – tart with mild sweetness
9/ “Les Feuilles Mortes” fresh chestnuts Mont-Blanc with Pu’er tea ice cream
The Mont-Blanc – Chestnut puree is nice and light with the expected sweet and earthy flavor. On the bottom of the creamy chestnut worms lie a hard meringue acting as the base which gives the dessert a crispy texture.
Pu’er tea ice cream tastes just as is advertised but the texture is a touch watery. Some sort of crisps topped the dessert to give the dish a bit of a crispy savory note.
10/ “Baba au Rhum” goji berry, kaki, salted egg yolk
This rendition of rum baba consists of a sake soaked cake sitting at the bottom. The middle layer is creamy fresh persimmons (kaki) with mild sweetness. Finally, atop the tower is vanilla ice cream showered with fresh and freeze dried goji berry with grated salty egg yolk to give the dessert some savory notes.
The same ending, coffee with chocolate mousse. Again, another solid dinner at Ta Vie.
Ta Vie 旅
Entrance at 21 Stanley St, Central, Hong Kong
2/F, The Pottinger, 74 Queen’s Road Central, Central, Hong Kong
Tel : +852 2668 6488
Date Visited : Nov 2018
Michelin Hong Kong and Macau Guide, 1 Star – 2016, 2 Stars – 2017-19
Also came in #16 for 2018 Asian Top 50 Restaurants by S.Pellgirino & Acqua Panna