Tate Dining Room & Bar is a French/Japanese fusion restaurant on Elgin Street, Central, a quite trendy bar and restaurant area. The restaurant was just opened middle of last year and they already earned their first Michelin star on the 2013 Michelin Guide for Hong Kong and Macau. What’s even more interesting and amazing is the story and the profile of the chef-owner of Tate. Vicky Lau is the chef-owner. Vicky originally trained and worked as a graphics designer before taking a 10 months course in Le Cordon Bleu branch in Thailand to learn French cooking. She then returned to Hong Kong and worked as Sous-chef in Cépage, a Michelin star restaurant. After working for about half a year in Cépage, she boldly decided to open her own restaurant, which is our story today, Tate Dining Room & Bar.
The restaurant is quite intimate and although the cuisine is fine dining, but their ambiance and style is quite casual and relaxing. Although the tables are set fairly closed together, the high ceiling and lightly colored theme gave the restaurant an airy atmosphere.
The menu is predominantly French with some definitely Japanese influence, especially with the use of ingredients. As a graphics designer, the dishes were of course all nicely presently and quite pretty. They is no a la carte menu. Only 2 tasting menus. A 6 course menu for $780 and 9 course menu for $1,080.
The quality of the food is good overall. As a fairly young and fresh chef, I can see great potential in Vicky’s cooking and in a few years time, with more experience. I hope to see Vicky developing and refining her cooking and cuisine to a new level. At the moment, some of the dishes are great and supreme, and some dishes are not so outstanding. Although let me stress that none of the dishes are bad at all.
Let’s talk about the good ones first. The Maine Lobster Rice and Kagoshima Beef Tenderloin are both quite supreme. The Maine Lobster Rice is basically a lobster risotto. The risotto was cooked just right, with the proper just crunchy al dente texture. Something which should be simple, but very few restaurant can do right. The lobster taste and aroma was strong and powerful and blended well with the risotto. A delicious dish!
It seems that a lot of fine dining restaurants both in Hong Kong and Japan like to use wagyu beef in their menu. In my opinion, the essence of successfully serving wagyu beef is to be able to savor the “melt in your mouth” texture. Unfortunately, very few restaurants were successful in creating this. The reason is probably because most restaurants do not use a high enough grade of wagyu. Most would use A3 grade wagyu, but they should really be using A5 grade. If you serve a price of wagyu on the menu as a premium course, and then it tasted no difference from a much cheaper black angus steak, then why bother using wagyu in the first place? Anyway, I am happy to report that Tate is one of the very few restaurant that can serve a piece of wagyu (Kagoshima Beef Tenderloin) successfully. It has that elusive “melt in your mouth” texture. I am not surprise that they promote it as their signature dish.
Now I’ll talk about a couple of the less outstanding dishes. The Red Prawn, Uni and Caviar dish although nicely presented, is basically like a typical Japanese sashimi dish with raw seafood. They even fried the prawn head tempura style. Something which a lot of Japanese sushi restaurant would do when you order a boton ebi(a kind of prawn from Hokkaido), they would tempura the head for you. The dish is simply too Japanese. Although it tasted fine, but they have not done enough to differentiate the dish from a typical Japanese style sashimi dish.
The other dish I want to talk about is the dessert. The Chocolate Mint Ornament (Dark chocolate mousse/Vanilla supreme/Spearmint sorbet. This dessert was presented with a trendy style. The bowl of dessert was submerged in another large plate filled with water and dry ice, giving out a lot of white mist, as if the dish is surrounded by fog and cloud. Very fairy tale like, but it is really nothing too special nowadays as a lot of restaurants of the same thing and use this technique to serve. Anyway, if the dessert tasted really good, I would have no complaint. Well, again, it’s not that the dessert tasted bad, but it was just quite ordinary, nothing too special.
The service in general were good. Tate did not serve wine, and you could bring your own bottle without any corkage charge. However, they did not tell me this fact when I made the booking. Nor did they tell me this when they called back the day before to reconfirm the booking. They only called me an hour before I arrived at the restaurant to tell me this fact. Well, I bough a bottle of wina at a nearby wine shop, but if they had told me earlier, I could have simply brought a bottle from home.
Still, despite the few minor complaints, I had a really nice time at Tate and overall, I still enjoyed the food. I will be visiting Tate again and I hope to see them ironing out these minor faults next time.
All photos were shot in RAW with Fujifilm X-Pro1 with Fujinon XF 35mm f1.4 R. The RAW files were converted with Capture One Pro with further processing in Photoshop CS5 before final output to the web.
Onion Panna Cotta
Foie Gras Ice Cream
Red Prawn, Uni & Caviar
Cauliflower Oyster Veloute
Spinach Wrapped Salmon
Maine Lobster Rice
Kagoshima Beef Tenderloin
Chocolate Mint Ornament
Chocolate Mint Ornament
Yule Log Petite Four