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Located in the little jewel box of a hotel that is The Pottinger, Ta Vie has an understated vibe about it that will appeal to those who look more to their plate than their surroundings. Luxurious touches such as marble, polished wood and plush furnishings are tempered with more quaint details such as the framed images of historic Central along the walls. It can feel rather quiet here most nights even when the dining room is full, but we expect that the tranquillity can easily be disturbed by just one unruly table.
Classically trained in French techniques but with a solid understanding of Asian culinary traditions thanks to his years working under the mentorship of Seiji Yamamoto, chef Hideaki Sato’s dishes are a special combination of East-meets-West that’s exhilarating in its creativity and assertiveness of flavour. His penchant for exquisite presentation, honed from years crafting seasonally inspired kaiseki cuisine, translates to his menu here as well—a degustation affair carefully curated with the best ingredients sourced from around Asia.
In its early incarnation, the menu offered a few signatures familiar to those who previously dined at Ryugin, where Sato was previously—the chef’s iconic poached oyster wrapped with wagyu beef, for example. However, there are many more dishes that should soon come into their own as chef Sato’s new classics: a starter of lightly seared botan shrimp nestled into a fluff of sweetcorn mousse with shrimp broth jelly, or the Hokkaido bafun uni draped atop risoni and done carbonara-style. The Lung Guang chicken consommé distils the very essence of the bird into a golden elixir, within which he places piney matsutake mushrooms and the most delicate chicken wontons, their chiffon-thin wrappers billowing in the broth. A dessert of Japanese golden peach is matched with a fragrant osmanthus flower sabayon sauce. Each dish is like a song on a greatest-hits album, but the journey feels leisurely and logical, rather than disjointed or jerky.
Instead of wine or sake, the special cold-brewed teas, which are packaged and served just like fine wines, are a unique experience and generally pair flawlessly with the dishes.
Service, with chef Sato’s wife, Hiromi, leading the charge, is warm and welcoming, a fine match for the smart and elegant interiors. Each dish is meticulously described to each diner.
Ta Vie serves a single chef’s menu only for dinner, priced at HK$1,880 per person before wine or service. It is not inexpensive by far, but having left satisfied and with palates excited, it is a fair price to pay in the heart of Central.