Hong Kong’s best example of contemporary fine dining is VEA, serving a seasonal eight-course tasting menu of Chinese-French fusion on the top floor of The Wellington with skyline views. If you’re looking for an interactive dining experience with exquisite, memorable dishes, don’t miss this gem.
A series of snacks to begin included a simple but incredibly flavorful applewood-smoked Chinese vinegar quail egg. Shima aji mackerel sashimi drapes a tartare with longan and ginger. The lemon balm broth poured tableside to finish the dish freezes upon hitting the cold plate. It might seem gimmicky at first glance, but the frozen slushie texture allows the fresh fish to shine.
One of Chef Vicky Cheng‘s signature dishes is a Japanese Taiyouran egg raviolo with truffle, parmesan foam and osetra caviar. The Hong Kong twist comes in the form of the accompanying bread, a black truffle you tiao Chinese doughnut; the young Cantonese-Canadian chef points out that the caviar is from China too.
Sea cucumber is an ingredient found in many more traditional Hong Kong restaurants, but here it’s roasted for a slightly crispy exterior and presented over a langoustine mousse and rich langoustine sauce.
Comfortable bar seats curve gracefully around three island kitchen stations, for desserts, cold appetizers and hot food. Cheng says that he rotates repeat guests to give them a new vantage point each time. I also witnessed him offering regulars several off-menu dishes to keep things fresh. There’s a seamless transition between the front and back of the house; cooks serve dishes in Cantonese, Mandarin and English.
The thoughtful hospitality (they brought me a felt mat for my phone and my camera) and willingness to accommodate any dietary restriction is becoming rarer in the chef-driven fine dining world. Cheng’s partner, Antonio Lai, oversees the cocktails at the VEA Lounge one floor below and also offers a cocktail pairing with dinner for a more adventurous alternative to wine.
Dessert is a revelation too; sweet corn custard paired with black sugar ice cream, lime ice, coconut mousse and crunchy rice. I’m tempted to lick my plate clean. There’s a lot going on, but the layered flavors balance salt and acid with sweetness for a symphony of flavors.