June 15, 2019

Triple birthday dinner

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I sound like a broken record.  I don't visit my favorite restaurants enough, and the problem seems to get worse each year... as I go on eating tours outside Hong Kong and would have to go through a period where I take it easy after coming back.  One of the places I have been missing is Ta Vie 旅, and there is every reason to come here at least once or twice every season.  DaRC is also a big fan, and we decided to do a birthday celebration there.  Knowing that the Zhongmeister is also a fan - and as he was born just a few weeks before me - I roped him in for this dinner, too.

Right off the bat, we were presented with the homemade ricotta drizzled with olive oil.

Of course, we can't forget the homemade butter...

Nukazuke bread - can't tell you how much I love this bread, made with nukazuke (糠漬け).

Amber bubbles - this was the seasonal cocktail I wanted to try.  I can't tell you when I last tasted wampee (黃皮), but it's probably more than two decade ago.  But you never forget the distinctive fragrance of the fruit.  I didn't ask what Champagne was used for the cocktail, though...

Sweet corn puffed mousse with aburi botan shrimp in shrimp consommé jelly - always happy to have this dish.  One of Sato-san's signatures from the beginning when the restaurant opened 4 years ago, and a wonderful dish for summer.

Buried underneath the very fluffy sweet corn mousse and the shirimp consommé gelée were thunks of torched botan shrimp (牡丹海老) marinated with olive oil, lightly grilled corn, chives, red capsicum, and crunchy tapioca/corn chips.  Full of umami and sweetness.  Still loving the contrast in textures among the different ingredients.  I probably should come back soon just for this dish alone.

Marinated sardine with baby potato topped with smoked oscietre caviar - we jokingly asked why we weren't getting nigiri sushi... Here we have potato with slightly crunchy exterior as the "shari (シャリ)", topped with a paste made with olives and capsicum.  The "neta (ネタ)" was marinated sardines that had been lightly torched, topped with a little bit of smoked caviar.  The sardines were soooo fatty and delicious!

Deep fried "Lung Guang" chicken wing stuffed with morel rice Chinese yellow wine sauce, fresh Yunnan morel - we know Sato-san's fondness for Lung Guang chicken (龍崗雞) - something which he took from his years with Chef Yamamoto Seiji (山本征治).  The chicken wing came with Hokkaido asparagus and fresh Yunnan morels.  The sauce was made with Shaoxing wine (紹興酒).

The wing was deboned and stuffed with rice and morel mushrooms before being deep-fried.  How is it possible for this not to be totally delish?!

Grilled hokki clam and Taiwanese bamboo shoot with dragon beard mariné, scent of "kinome", "green yuzu" - the giant surf clams (北寄貝) were very sweet.  I thought the bamboo shoots were pretty nice and fresh.  Sato-san has used chayote shoots (龍鬚菜) before - also with Taiwanese bamboo shoots.  The sauce made with clam jus and olive oil was a little thick, and as Sato-san said it did taste kinda like pil-pil... with lovely fragrance from the olive oil as well as the sansho leaves and yuzu zest.

Sato-san very kindly served an "unofficial dish" as he wanted to get our opinions.  The medaka abalone (メダカ鮑) was pressure cooked.  Then the abalone juice was reduced with Shaoxing wine (紹興酒) and kombu (昆布)Mirin (味醂) was added later, before everything was cooked sous vide together.

The texture was very, very soft, and it was very tasty.  But I did think the Shaoxing wine sauce was a little too strong and overpowering.

Watercress salad tossed with sesame oil, "sumi"-cuttlefish, winter black truffle, pork reduction - the squid (墨烏賊) was lightly grilled, and came topped with watercress grown in Chuen Lung village (川龍村) that had been tossed with fragrant sesame oil.  We also have shaved Australian winter truffle on top.  Dressed with some potato purée and pork trotter reduction.

Roasted Aveyron lamb, warm spring cabbage salad with thyme - a very simple preparation, but so delicious.  I looooove Aveyron lamb!

We also got a spring of thyme on the side for us to enjoy the fragrance.

Almond tofu with peach compote fresh lychee and "monkey picked" Oolong tea jelly, scent of rose flower - now THIS was AWESOME.  The very first time we stepped foot in the restaurant 4 years ago, we were blown away by this dessert.  In fact, DaRC was so greedy that he asked to have a second serving... which resulted in all of us getting a second serving!

I had jokingly warned Sato-san that DaRC was coming tonight, and asked him to please prepare a second serving...  and I was kinda disappointed that it never came, because the peach sorbet was as delicious as I remembered, the almond tofu beautiful, and the lychees were sooooo fragrant and floral!  Of course the rose was beautiful.

"A crown melon cake" - someone had told Sato-san that we were kinda celebrating my birthday, so this arrived... I had seen people post about this, and tonight it was finally my turn.  So happy!  うれしいー!!! *cups face with both hands*

A whole Shizuoka Crown Melon (静岡クラウンメロン) was turned into a cake.  With a little candle and, of course, GOLD FOIL

We've got chunks of melon and genoise encased in whipped cream.  Sooooo delicious.  Soooo happy.

We also got a quenelle of jasmine ice cream on the side.  Just beautiful.

It was time to order our after dinner drinks, and tonight I chose to have something a little different.

Wuyi Dahongpao (武夷大紅袍) - very, very nice.  I know how much Sato-san cares about the teas he serves, and I was pretty happy.
Far breton aux pruneaux Chinoises - I was so surprised to see far breton, which is something I love but don't get to have very often.  These were made with Nanhua plums (南華李).  Very yummy.

We decided to bring a trio of 1970s for the occasion, while also taking something from the list that turned out to be quite a surprise.

2015 Silver Heights Family Reserve Chardonnay - tropical nose like pineapple and coconut butter, definitely heavy on the oak.  Soft and definitely sweeter on the palate.

1970 Gaja Barbaresco Sorì Tildìn - nose of soy sauce and stewed prunes.  Still alive, but definitely in decline.

1970 Mouton-Rothschild - minty, smoky, earthy, fragrant cedar notes.  Classic Pauillac.

1970 Beaulieu Vineyard Georges de Latour Private Reserve - still very much alive.  Eucalyptus, coconut, a little marmalade, and smoke.  Pretty fragrant.  Acidity showed with time in glass.

1988 de Fargues - honey, desiccated coconut, toasty, honeydew melon.  Definitely very sweet with marmalade notes, and a bit of bitterness.

Such a happy meal. Many thanks to Sato-san, Takano-san and team for taking good care of us.

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