August 28, 2020

Supporting chef friends: back at dinner

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The Compatriot wanted to hit more of his favorite restaurants in town before he flew out, and Ta Vie 旅 is definitely one of them.  When the government announced that dine-in restrictions would be relaxed starting today to allow dinner service until 9pm, I immediately changed my booking from lunch to dinner.

I didn't tell Sato-san who I was coming with, so when the Compatriot showed up Takano-san was very surprised to see him... and immediately reminded my friend that he had left a bottle of white wine here from his last visit - which would have been more than 2 years ago, surely!

As I had been here for lunch a couple of weeks ago, Sato-san very kindly designed a different menu for me so that I wouldn't have to repeat dishes.  In fact, there was only one dish that was a repeat.

We started with the usual...

House made butter

House made ricotta

Nukazuke bread - I don't think I'll ever tire of having this house made bread with nukazuke (糠漬け).  That beautiful thin crust...

Shine muscat / tomato confit / physalis terrine with burrata cheese, Thai basil oil - this was a real surprise.  I had tasted Sato-san's dessert which used Shine muscat (シャインマスカット) before, but this was the first time having the grapes in a savory dish.  I loved the combination of sweet and savory flavors here, and the different textures between the grape, the tomato, and the physalis.  Then there's the beautiful fragrance of the basil piercing through the lovely olive oil.  Finally, you got the savory notes of the olive oil coming together with the rich and creamy burrata, balanced by the acidity and sweetness of the fruits.

House made "pappardelle" pasta with veal ragout sauce, morel mushroom - the French veal ragout came with pine nuts, carrots, and celery.  Pretty nice.

Steamed "foie gras" egg custard, with duck consommé, celeriac, black truffle - so this is a foie gras chanwanmushi (茶碗蒸し) with black truffle... and the flavors are definitely familiar.  We've got some spinach between the custard and the black truffle, which I didn't quite get.  The cubes of celeriac on top added some nice texture, and the black pepper added a little kick.

Charcoal grilled Iberico pork "char siu" glazed with "Pedro Ximénez" sherry smoked with grape vine, black truffle - I was pretty happy with this last time, and I was glad to have this again.  The Compatriot was surprised that Sato-san delivered two consecutive courses with black truffle, but we kinda understand.

Fresh porcini steak (from Yunnan) - simple and delicious.  You just need fresh, good quality ingredients.

Roasted Challans duck breast, wampi / parsnip / chicory - the duck was delicious and nicely done, and I especially loved the light charring on the fatty skin.  Besides the duck jus, the real highlight was the sauce made from wampee (黃皮) with a nice, distinctive kick.  Wampee is an ingredient foreign to The Compatriot, and we both appreciate how much local flavors are incorporated into dishes here.

The chilled roselle tea was, as usual, really refreshing and a great palate cleanser.

Blueberry / lavender / chocolate mousse - a good combination between acidity and fruity flavors and the rich chocolate.

Herbal tea - it's been way too long since I last had this, and I missed the combination of pandan and mint.

Steamed traditional brown sugar sponge cake - I've seen Sato-san post about making his 馬拉糕 for so long but never had the opportunity to taste it - until today.  He's made the flavors Japanese by using houjicha (焙じ茶) and wasanbon (和三盆).  Very nice.

Well, initially my friend had suggested that he bring a bottle and we order glasses of Champagne or something.  But of course we were gonna pop open the bottle which has been left at the restaurant by my friend...

2005 Peter Michael Chardonnay Cuvée Indigène - really ripe, but not too bad on the palate and at least it was still lively.  Almost like candy.

2001 DRC Grands Échézeaux - notes of forest pine and potpourri, lovely fruit.  A little grippy.  Very fragrant, with black cherries.  Some toasty notes after almost 2 hours.

It was so good to see my friend again, and I must thank him for his generosity.  I hope to see him more often, but who knows what the world will look like in the future?

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