Diner’s Diary

Hong Kong’s Vicky Lau shows new fish dishes she’s adding to menu at bigger, relocated Tate restaurant

Michelin-starred chef gives presentation on sustainability at global chefs’ gathering in Manila, making dishes using every part of a farmed grouper – flesh, bones and skin

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 13 April, 2017, 12:57pm
UPDATED : Thursday, 13 April, 2017, 1:09pm

There’s been a lot of buzz around Vicky Lau, the chef-owner of Tate Dining Room and Bar. She left her career in graphic art to pursue culinary arts instead, and in a few short years has garnered many accolades, including being named Veuve Clicquot Asia’s Best Female Chef two years ago.

Hong Kong’s Vicky Lau named Asia’s best female chef

Last week Lau was in Manila to make a presentation on the theme of sustainability at the gourmet trade show Fusion Madrid Manila.

In front of an audience of several hundred people, the only Hong Kong chef participating in the event talked about our city’s dwindling local seafood supply, and how a friend of her father’s started the only sustainable fish farm rearing large groupers.

Vicky Lau, Asia’s Best Female Chef 2015, not afraid to experiment

She showed a whole grouper intact, and then proceeded to make two dishes from it: a fillet that was charcoal grilled and served with a fish stock sauce made from the bones; and a salad that used the fish skin, itself made into a jellyfish-like dish that utilised the skin’s gelatinous texture.

After her presentation, she explained to me that the grouper dishes would soon be on the menu of her one-Michelin-starred restaurant, which recently relocated to bigger digs on Hollywood Road.

Situated next to 208 Duecento Otto, Tate is a much larger restaurant than her previous location on Elgin Street. Now housed in an elegant two-storey space covering 3,800 sq ft, Tate Dining Room and Bar includes a small shop space on the ground floor called Poem Patisserie that will sell pastries very soon.

She also told the audience in Manila that her restaurant strives to be sustainable, eschewing linen tablecloths for PVC table tops, and plants instead of flowers to decorate each table. It also goes through the food scraps to see what can be made out of them.

Meanwhile Lau’s menu of “edible stories” is evolving. She is known for mainly using Japanese ingredients, but some new dishes have local flavours.

The eight-course menu (HK$1,380) is presented in a box shaped like a book, and each dish is an ode to an ingredient, a poetic homage on a plate. We particularly liked “Ode to Tea”, featuring fried menuke or Japanese fish in a sublime silver needle supreme broth full of umami and hints of tea.

Another that works well is the fifth dish, “Ode to a Chiu Chow Classic”. Lau’s father is Chiu Chow, and she thought of a twist on the traditional marinated foie gras and goose by creating a silky foie gras custard with marinated goose in a French style.

“Ode to Sakura Ebi”, features lobster tagliolini topped with crispy sakura ebi, adding a delicious crunch and shrimp flavours to the seafood pasta dish.

Towards the end of the meal, “Ode to Cheese” is a clever dish for cheese lovers, as there is a steamed mushroom sitting in a shallow pool of pungent Parmesan water with a bit of Parmesan garnish.

Tate Dining Room chef Vicky Lau’s favourite Hong Kong restaurants

Finally, “Ode to Zen” is a plate of petit fours placed in what looks like a mini Japanese Zen rock garden of chocolates that comes with a mini rake for guests to play with.

Tate Dining Room and Bar, 210 Hollywood Road, Sheung Wan. Tel: 2555 2172. www.tate.com.hk