November 27, 2015

Snoopy's birthday

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We were looking to do a belated bday celebration for Birdie Golf, and asked him to pick the venue.  Much to our surprise, he chose Ta Vie 旅 - my favorite new restaurant of 2015.  So I got in touch with Chef Sato and got ourselves a table.  And having had some advance warning about some of the dishes currently being served, I made sure to tell Sato-san to keep a particular item off my menu...

Simmered abalone with vegetables salad tossed with wakame seaweed - oh yes, I'll be happy to have the abalone here any day.  The disc abalone (黒鮑) comes from Nagasaki (長崎).  As usual Sato-san scored it in a crisscross pattern, and it was soooo tender.  Tonight it came with a "crispy" salad of different vegetables.  A very good start to our meal.

Homemade butter - very happy to have this homemade butter again, which is made with French milk.  Very light and airy in terms of texture, and light in terms of flavors, but with a very fragrant finish in the mouth.

Homemade bread - I don't think I'll ever get tired of this wonderful nukazuke (糠漬け) bread.  So crispy on the outside.

Takano-san brought us this bottle of olive oil from Shodo Island (小豆島) in Kagawa Prefecture (香川県) as an alternative to butter.  The oil was so light and very fragrant - almost with lemon notes - and with a light sweetness on the palate.

Pan seared scallop "a la meunière" with crispy wing - while the others at the table enjoyed their cod milt (白子), I was presented with the scallop.  Nicely done as meunière so the acidity helps to perk up the appetite.  Love the ethereal cauliflower mash as always, and the sautéed cauliflower chunks were good, too.

Whenever someone asks me why, as a "foodie", I don't eat cod or blowfish milt, nowadays my simple response is "I don't swallow fish cum"...

Onion and chicory gratin soup topped with winter black truffle - I really wasn't expecting French onion soup here, but I gotta say that I really enjoyed this.  Of course the shavings of black truffle on top didn't hurt, either...

Pan seared oyster and miru clam with mushroom purée - the oyster from Akeshi (明石) seemed barely cooked, and was paired up with the crunchy geoduck (海松貝).  The mushroom sauce was very, very delicious, and it was finished with a sprinkle of Taiwanese wild pepper - which I believe was the moutain litsea (馬告) that my friend Cathy had given to Chef Sato.  The kitchen also generously gave us some white truffle shavings on top.  Yum.

Wagyu "minute" steak with burnt onion and onsen egg, Japanese whisky sauce - I had the pleasure of enjoying this dish a few months ago.  The Japanese A4 beef from Kyushu was very, very tender... and the marbling didn't seem excessive.  The soft-boiled egg underneath the beef - along with the sauce made with a very special mirin (味醂) and Japanese whisky - meant that we needed something to mop up the plate.  So I asked for more of the nukazuke bread...

House made pasta with "aonori" sauce topped with premium uni - hands down my favorite dish of the evening.  The sea urchin in sea water (海水雲丹) from Yoichi (余市) always delivers that wonderful sweetness.  But tonight the star was the aonori (青海苔)... just so, so, so tasty!  I think all of us would have wanted the chef to triple (or at least double) the portion...

Lemongrass and ginger tea - always a cold and refreshing palate-cleanser.

Nashi pear, "Shine" muscat and aloe, Calpis soda foam with fragrance of shiso flowers - a cold and refreshing dessert.  Surprisingly the Shine muscat was rather bland and not nearly as sweet as the ones we've been buying ourselves.  The pear was also somewhat underwhelming in terms of flavor, but perhaps it was simply overpowered by the foam.  And that foam... yes, I love Calpis soda, and this was just perfect.  Lovely acidity - and I normally don't like too much acidity - with that fizzy sensation on the tongue.  Highlighted with the fragrance of perilla (紫蘇) flowers.

Chestnut mont-blanc with 2008 aged Pu'er tea ice cream - the Mont Blanc came with delicious chestnut purée that wasn't overly sweet, sitting on a piece of meringue.  The ice cream was made with vintage Pu'er tea, and it certainly was something special.

Herbal tea - I always love this combination of pandan, lemongrass, and mint.  So lovely and elegant.

Loquat compote - I don't eat loquat (枇杷) often nowadays, although it was one of my childhood favorites.  Nicely done.

2006 Moët et Chandon Cuvée Dom Pérignon - very toasty and oaky nose.  Lovely.  Wonderful ripeness and acidity balance here, and so smooth on the palate.

2006 Kistler Chardonnay Cuvée Cathleen - nose was overripe, too sweet and sugary, with too much Chinese licorice (甘草) and marzipan, with some oak here.  Spicy on the finish.  Disappointing.

2008 Palmer - pretty smoky, a little earthy.  Alcohol was pretty sharp on the nose.  Got a little better with more time in the decanter.


A very satisfying meal, and there were three more fans of Sato-san's cuisine tonight.  Looking forward to coming back soon.

1 comment:

Cathy Ho said...

Wow, I'm really happy to know that Chef used the pepper Magao fo the mushroom sauce!! Can't wait to go back to Ta Vie again. Love this new restaurant!

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