CUISINE FRANCAISE | Tate Dining Room and Bar

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Another piece slightly out of my comfort zone. Blessed with a star and crowned as Asia’s Best Female Chef 2015, Chef-owner Vicky Lau is certainly the hottest chef in town these days. All the more important, a home-grown non-Chinese food chef making a name internationally is truly an encouraging news for the local culinary scene, let alone being female in an otherwise hyper male-dominant industry, even in the West.

Probably like most others, it has been mixed reviews all along to this actually not so new establishment in town that LG had come across. Figure that by now most of the teething problems should be long gone and certainly attracted by (and proud of) the recent accomplishments by this young chef, LG joined wine buddies to a first encounter with the reigning Best Female Chef in Asia.

Trained as a graphic designer in NYC and eventually moved on to become chef de cuisine at the once popular Cepage in town, Chef Vicky is certainly joining the reigns of contemporary artists these days to utilise food as an ‘art form’, or in her terms, to present ‘Edible Stories’. Be rest assure, however, this is no ‘lab’ dinner but in fact rather solid french cooking with seasonal ingredients, mostly from Japan. Reminded LG indeed of the ‘French Kaiseki’ recently tried in Tokyo though I will say Vicky’s a bit more French and at times more ‘artsy’. Funny enough, it was actually ‘Akrame’ in town that first came to LG’s mind, a dinner well remembered for its Japanese touch.

Seasonality is a popular concept among French and Japanese cuisine and indeed well executed by her. From the resembling of a cherry blossom branch to the use of sakura ebi, Spring was certainly in the air with her latest seasonal menu. The saucing was also worth mentioning. From a hint of ‘soy sauce/Maggi sauce’ like taste detected in some dishes (and much appreciated by LG), to the use of Chinese herbs in some others, all were done in a rather subtle way that brought out the best of the ingredients.

Not sure if the fact that one of us at the table is a close friend of hers helped but all in all must admit that it was quite a fulfilling evening. Indeed am proud of all her achievements so far and seeing her working in harmony with a rather big team at the open kitchen was an enjoyment by itself.

Wine list was interesting and efforts being made had not gone unnoticed though understandably still nothing to compare with the big boys both in breadth and depth yet, and a proper Som is probably needed to bring it one step forward. The usual problem of some half hearted timid table front introduction of the dishes were seen, a rather common phenomenon these days actually among even the top French restaurants in Asia.
Way to go for a young home grown chef! It’s about time for you all to go leave some significant footprints in the international culinary scene.

(Thanks KC for the photos which I have ‘borrowed’)

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