A little background: VEA stands for “Vicky et Antonio”, and can also mean “being different”. Perched on the top floor of The Wellington, VEA is a restaurant helmed by Chef Vicky Cheng, to offer you a stunning 8-course seasonal tasting menu that is essentially “Young Modern French” with an Asian influence. The bar seating opens you up to a panoramic kitchen view where chefs can showcase their techniques, and satisfy your curiosity with all the work that are usually done behind the scene. Cocktails and carefully sourced wines are readily at hand to enhance your dining and drinking experience, literally.
My visit: Being a huge fan of Liberty Private Works, VEA became one of my most anticipated openings of 2015. I made a reservation the minute the reservation system went live and I anxiously waited for this day to arrive.
Our 8 course degustation kicked off with three different types of snacks. The fried chicken skin with chicken liver mousse and rosemary (bottom) was excellent. It was 100% crispy and addictive! The second amuse bouche (top left hand corner) was quail egg, pickled with Japanese vinegar, and served in a dome of smoked applewood. Firm on the outside, liquid inside, the quail egg literally exploded with flavour in my mouth. Lastly, the clam tart served with pickled chili, coriander and fermented black beans. The presentation of the clams were cute and it tasted delicious. These little guys definitely set the tone for a great meal ahead.
The first dish was the tuna belly tartare with hokkaido uni topped with a sheet of burnt cucumber jelly. Visually it was stunning and it tasted as good as it looked. I absolutely loved the combination of textures here – the smooth, firm texture of the fish, the sweetness and creaminess of the uni combined with the crunchiness of the puffed rice hidden at the bottom… it was like a party in my mouth! However I would have liked to taste the uni a little more as I found that it did get lost in some bites. The sweet longan fruit that was given to us on the side was also the perfect palate cleanser.
Next came the hairy crab with shiso, apple and black vinegar. As much as I love hairy crab, I am not a huge fan of shiso leaf so this obviously was not my favorite dish. However I loved the egg custard that came with this dish. The silky smooth egg custard was blended with fresh hairy crab meat. The sweetness of the crab enhanced both the flavor and aroma of the egg.
This was one of my favorite dishes of the night. The langoustine was semi-cooked, served in a sauce that was made from the langoustine’s head and tail which gave it a delicious, briny flavour. The apples also added the perfect amount of acidity to the dish. I apologize for the horrible photo – it really doesn’t do it justice!
The fourth dish was Chef’s Vicky’s signature dish from LPW. It tasted exactly the way I remembered it when I first had it a few years back – absolutely divine! The poached egg sat on top of a spinach parmesan ravioli in a pool of rich parmesan sauce and as soon as I broke into the ravioli, the egg yolk came oozing out with an amazing aroma of truffle. The caviar also added a sweet, mildly savory flavor when they popped in my mouth. The dish was perfected with a truffle-infused Chinese fried dough to soak up all the sauce available on the plate. Antonio mentioned to us that Chef Vicky went to a local congee shop every morning at 5am for two weeks straight to learn how to make the fried dough and he spent a lot of time trying to elevate it by adding new ingredients like truffle. This shows Chef Vicky’s passion and dedication towards cooking which I truly admire.
Next came the pigeon which was cooked to perfection (pink in the middle). However I felt that the dish was too salty and that there was too much going on. I think it would have worked better with a little less components and I would have preferred a slightly lighter dish after indulging in a rich creamy dish like the “egg”.
I was disappointed with this meat dish as it did not stand out at all. While I did enjoy the use of bone marrow and gingko nuts, I found both the filet and the braised short rib a bit tough. I was definitely expecting more considering how strong the other dishes were and this being the last savory dish of the meal.
Dessert started with a lemon ice cream, raspberry with pistachio cream, pistachio powder, meringue and nitrogen raspberry mousse. It was very refreshing and the meringue was light, airy and crisp throughout.
The last dish in the degustation was the milk jam ice cream with puffed quinoa and shaved salted duck egg. I loved how the different components married so well together creating such harmony and balance. The crunch from the quinoa and the saltiness from the salted egg brightened each spoonful of the silky smooth ice cream. This dessert still arouses me!
Our meal ended with a selection of mignardises. There was a choice of earl grey and orange madeleines, Japanese mochi, raspberry jelly and toffee caramel in an edible wrapper. My favorite was the Japanese mochi filled with condensed milk. They had a great chewy texture and was not overly sweet. I shamelessly asked for seconds!
Verdict: I absolutely enjoyed my meal here though there were a couple of dishes that could be executed a bit better. However, I do believe that Chef Vicky is cooking at an even higher level than ever before. He is innovative, creative, and is continuously pushing boundaries. He has an great culinary team and it amazes me watching them cook in the open kitchen. While I agree that the price is quite high, I do think it is worth every penny. There is nothing close to it in Hong Kong. It is definitely worth trying at least once and I promise you, you will leave the restaurant feeling happy and full!
Happy eating 🙂
VEA Restaurant and Lounge
29-30/F, The Wellington, 198 Wellington Street, Central
中環威靈頓街198號The Wellington 29至30樓
(852) 2711 8639