19 January, 2016
Eat & Drink

VEA – Modern French Cuisine from Chef Vicky Cheng in Central

19 January, 2016

An integrated fine dining and beverage experience

Hong Kong’s never ending stream of newly opened restaurants can be hard to keep up with. But if there’s one restaurant to take note of, it’s VEA. With Chef Vicky Cheng (formerly of Liberty Private Works) at the helm of VEA’s fine dining set menu, you won’t be disappointed. Chef Vicky takes you on a culinary journey filled with creative plating, interesting textures and unique flavours – a must-try for any special occasion.

vea-interior

Situated on the 29th and 30th floors of The Wellington, one of the latest shiny new complexes to grace the streets of the Central/Sheung Wan area, VEA integrates exquisite cocktails with delectable food. The 29th floor houses a lounge area and a terrace, and specialises in cocktails led by mixology masters Antonio Lai (the man behind some of our favourite bars in HK, such as Quinary and The Envoy) and Leszek Stachura. The focus on this floor is very much the drinks, with food designed to complement your beverages. The attention to detail and pure creativity of the drinks menu deserves an article of its own, so for now we’ll focus on the 30th floor which features Chef Vicky’s stellar eight-course tasting menu.

The dining room itself has been meticulously designed and features brass fittings and a long marble bar, where diners can watch their food being prepared from. The open kitchen adds an element of excitement and showmanship to the meal, which trust me, won’t fail to fascinate you.

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Chef Vicky’s tasting menu can be complemented by a wine or cocktail pairing, which has been expertly matched by Antonio and his team. We were lucky enough to sample the cocktail pairing, which managed to artfully pair with the various textures and flavours of the food. Expect truly unique drinks – I’m talking warm, mushroom consommé in a cocktail – that add to the overall dining experience when combined with the food.

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The eight-course set menu is served to everyone who dines on the 30th floor, and changes seasonally. Although many of the dishes will have changed since I went in December, I don’t want to spoil the surprise, so will just highlight a few of my favourites here.

vea-tuna-starter

After the delicate and beautifully presented selection of Amuse Bouche, we were presented with the Tuna Belly with Hokkaido Uni, Espelette and Burnt Cucumber Jelly. Served on a semi-frozen plate at -12 degrees, this dish was a spectacular start to the meal with refreshing yet distinct flavours (who can mistake the flavour of uni!).

vea-egg-truffle

The most outstanding dish for me was the Egg with Truffle, Parmesan and Caviar. The Japanese Tanyourian Egg – which is “fed on stevia for a richer flavour” – oozed a rich, velvety orange yolk that melted into the creamy sauce. Bursting through the delicate pasta skin, this is the true definition of egg porn! The caviar added an indulgent touch to Chef Vicky’s signature dish, itself alone worth coming for. I hope this stays on the tasting menu for a long time, as I doubt I’ll be able to find such decadent flavours and smooth, silky textures that blend as perfectly as this elsewhere. The traditional Hong Kong ‘You Tiao’ (Chinese Fried Donut) on the side, which Chef Vicky learnt how to make at a local congee spot every morning for two weeks, was the ideal accompaniment for dipping in the remaining sauce. It also stopped me from licking the plate clean!

vea-pigeon

One of the standout mains for me was the Pigeon with Smoked Eel, Blood and Cabbage. Yep – blood. Don’t be put off though if you’re squeamish – the bold, deep burgundy sauce was the ideal addition to the aged French Pigeon, which was sous vide and marinated in mulled wine for 48 hours.

vea-salted-duck-egg-ice-cream

I’ve have a huge sweet tooth, so the fact that I was treated to two desserts quite literally went down a treat. Although I loved the beautifully plated Raspberry, Pistachio, Lemon and Meringue dessert which came first, the second ‘savoury’ dessert really blew me away. A savoury dessert, you say? Yes, it is possible, and yes, it is delicious. The “Milk Jam” was one of the many delightful surprises of the evening, consisting of carbonised milk ice cream, puffed quinoa and shaved frozen duck egg. On paper, the thought of duck egg in a dessert doesn’t exactly sound appealing, but the cold, salty sprinkling on top of the milky ice-cream created an almost salted-caramel taste which was totally addictive.

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With innovative cooking techniques, unique flavour combinations, an exciting atmosphere and an elegant environment, VEA is a dining experience like no other. The modern French cuisine from Vicky Cheng is outstanding, and I enjoyed seeing the influence of Hong Kong ingredients scattered throughout the meal. With the set dinner menu starting at $1,180 per person, VEA is certainly not your everyday dining spot, but if you can afford to go for a really special occasion, be a birthday or an anniversary, you won’t be disappointed!

VEA, 29th & 30th floor, The Wellington, 198 Wellington Street, Central, Hong Kong. VEA has now soft-open for dinner service only in the dining room from 6pm onwards from Monday – Saturday, the lounge opens from 5pm onwards every Monday – Saturday.
Bookings available here: www.vea.hk.

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