May 9, 2023

Le French GourMay: Mitsuboshi

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The Compatriot was coming back to town so I decided to book a few meals together. Among his favorite places in Hong Kong is Ta Vie 旅, and we made sure that is our first stop together. Little did I know that they would be getting their coveted third Michelin star just days before. We are all very, very happy for the team. And it was almost the exact same time last year - during Le French GourMay - that I felt the restaurant had upped their game to a level deserving of three stars.

So it's only appropriate that we bring along a few gifts for them, one of which hopefully entails special meaning for Sato-san and Takano-san. They've been through a lot together, and we're glad to have gone along on their journey together.

Sato-san very kindly started us off with something off-menu. This is, I guess, a celebration of their new achievement as it comes with blinis shaped like the 6-pointed star used by the Michelin Red Guide.

In the small tin inside the big tin - we were joking about matryoshka dolls - was a tartare of bigfin reef squid (アオリイカ) along with oscietre caviar from Kaviari (I would assume Kristal). The caviar was, of course, arranged in the shape of the same 6-pointed star. And OF COURSE Sato-san gave me gold flakes so that only I got the GOLDEN STAR!

There's actually diced tomato, cucumber, and avocado underneath. Made this more refreshing and delicous.

Signature nukazuke (糠漬け) bread was same as it ever was. INHALED.

Always with the housemade butter and ricotta.

Hotaru squid and padrón pepper with tabouli salad - this is a new dish on the spring menu. There's always firefly squid (螢烏賊) on the menu during spring, and this year instead of artichoke they are paired with padrón peppers.

The squid is now stuffed into a padrón pepper along with some tapenade, served atop some couscous and tabbouleh salad, and garnished with a sliver of lemon zest and chorizo. The flavors just worked really well together among all the ingredients, even with the basil coulis.

Hokki clam "petits pois à la Française" style green peas, bacon, lettuce - this is a dish we had last spring, and lifting the green pea dentelle showed all the ingredients underneath.

The surf clam (北寄貝) is still very nice and sweet, with a good springy texture. The peas were pretty crunchy and perhaps slightly less cooked than usual. The flavors were again pretty harmonious without anything being outstanding, and I kept wondering whether this could be underrated as a dish.

Pain de rustique - I absolutely LOVE the crust! How thin and crispy it is! And the crumb, too... Made with flour from Hokkaido.

House-made pasta with deep-fried "sakura" shrimp and spring cabbage - another dish from last spring, but I'm not about to complain! With the sweet spring cabbage from Japan, a pile of delicious, crucnhy sakura shrimp (桜海老) on top lending their explosive umami, and a sprinkle of Japanese plum powder to give a slight hint of acidity which enhanced the flavors. It's even better than last year's!

French white asparagus, with Sicilian black pork "Nebrodi" ham, "onsen" egg, with black truffle sauce - this was a visually stunning dish, but it tasted just as beautifully as it looked. The white asparagus from Anjou was very, very sweet, and everything was again very balanced in terms of flavors as nothing was too strong or out of whack - not even the ham from Nebrodi black pigs.

Sourdough pain de campagne - the last of the bread trio. I wish I had more stomach space for more.

First we see the sauce for the next dish, made with the 4 main ingredients - two from the mountains and two from the ocean. This was then added to our dish.

Pan-seared fresh Brittany blue-lobster with fresh morel mushroom, "tubu clam" Japanese whelk, and "spring gobo" burdock - of course the homard bleu was delicious, and the morels from Yunnan Province (雲南省) were very tasty, too.

Deep fried "Salers" veal cutlet, with Japanese bamboo shoots and veal sweet bread beignet - the veal was pretty milky and interesting, especially with the breaded batter made of Parmigiano-Reggiano-flavored panko (パン粉).

The beignet was something even more creative, with half of it being milky sweetbread and the other half crunchy bamboo shoots. Taken with lemon-caper-thyme mayonnaise.

Roselle tea - always so happy to have a few sips of this... so refreshing thanks to the infusion of orange.

"Strawberry ball" Japanese fresh strawberry, rosehip jelly and milk mousse with Spritz soda - I love Sato-san's fruity desserts as they are often visually stunning. I love these balls that he creates! Here the ball comes with meringue chips, crispy chips made of Benihoppe (紅ほっぺ) strawberries, and a foam made with Aperol spritz.

Inside the rosehip jelly we have slices of strawberries along with milk mousse. Really, really delicious.

Chocolate crêpe soufflé, served with banana-jasmine-merengue ice cream, with fermented rice jam - the flavors of cacao are certainly rich here, but the ice cream was pretty interesting and balanced.

Miyazaki mango - Sato-san is well aware of Foursheets' issues with caffeine, so he very kindly offered her some ripe and sweet mango from Miyazaki (). Unfortunately, it's a fruit she doesn't eat... so the rest of us got to enjoy it.

Chocolate pudding - and I definitely wanted my favorite petit four, which is this amazing chocolate pudding infused with kaffir lime leaves. That means taking coffee as my drink.

We kinda took it easy on wine tonight. Befitting this year's theme for Le French GourMay I decided to focus on French sparkling wine. Sato-san very kindly started us with a bottle of the 2015 RSRV, which is, of course, Ta Vie 旅's vintage...

2015 Mumm RSRV Blanc de Blancs, dégorgée septembre 2021 - so easy to drink. Nice nose with a little toast, a little savory minerals on the nose, and pretty fragrant.

1999 DRC Montrachet - some oxidation noted around 30 minutes after opening. Got some marmalade on the nose and very, very buttery, with some vanilla oak. Second pour 1 hour after opening and this got better. Another half hour later and this warmed up and got a little bitter on the palate. More than 2 hours after opening there was a little more toast on the nose. A very beautiful wine.

2000 Dom Pérignon P2 - fresher and more lively on the palate, with certainly more toasty notes.

This was such a happy meal, and how we wish Takano-san could have shared the experience - and a few sips of wine - with us. Congratulations to the team, and I'm guessing reservations will be more difficult to come by in the future...

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