Political problems aside, Hong Kong is one of the world’s most exciting cities in the world. An Iconic skyline, enchanting neighbourhoods, mountain ranges, and unbelievable shopping with the most glitzy malls and no sales tax to boot. It is also one of the world’s top culinary capitals, with every cuisine imaginable. As far as Chinese food goes, you can delight in eating a bowl of noodles, dim sum, bao bun, or the latest creation by a Michelin star chef, and it is all good. But if asked where my most memorable meal was over my five-day visit to Hong Kong, I would most definitely say VEA Restaurant and Lounge on 198 Wellington Street, located on the two top floors of the Wellington in Central.
Helmed by wünder Chef Vicky Cheung, the restaurant features 25 counter seats, with chefs split into three sections and stations that run along the length of the open kitchen. One section does desserts, one cold prep, and one hot food. You can watch the chefs prepare your food right before your eyes, and interact with them. There are also a few tables as well, but the bar is where you need to sit. The restaurant design is modern, with rose gold fixtures, exposed filaments in pretty cut crystal bulbs, and grey-colored leather back stools with bronze stud nail heads. The grey marble top tables are curved, and there are rose gold accents. The whole space has a chic, sleek, industrial vibe. I counted 13 staff in the kitchen and numerous servers. The counter is yours for the entire evening. There is no need to feel rushed as you are in for an intimate and rewarding and gastronomic dining experience, that will take a few hours.
Chef Vicky who was born in Hong Kong but raised under Western influences has been classically trained by some of the best. He was first mentored for six years by one of our own from Canada, Chef Jason Bangerter, previously of Auberge de Pommier, and now at Langdon Hall. He also worked with Daniel Boulud, for 3 years in New York, cooking alongside another Canadian, Chef Patrick Kriss (of Alo, Alo Bar, and Aloette). By embracing his Asian roots and heritage along with French gastronomic techniques, Chef Vicky has created a most impressive dinner with some of the most beautiful food we have encountered.
We arrived early to experience a cocktail on the 29th floor by award-winning mixologist and cool dude, Antonio Lai. I had my first Negroni with shiso, and I’m not going to lie, it was outstanding. I also got to admire Antonio’s rad and outrageous sneakers. Then we moved up to the 30th floor where we were escorted to our central seats begin our exquisite meal.We were offered a choice selection of champagnes to begin with. After a few outrageously decadent snacks, including caviar and an insane smoked presentation of quail eggs in a nest, we started with a spot prawn with a dan dan noodle in chili oil, which was great. Then a fruit tomato with golden kiwi, nasturtium and trout roe, another winner. A standout signature dish was the roasted sea cucumber with hairy crab, a seafood that is only in season a short time, it was cooked with a 20-year-old Hong Kong yellow wine which was simply a wow. Up next a caviar and quinoa presentation that was sublime. The most outstanding course of the evening was the É-fu noodles with cheddar and nonstop shavings of white truffles, it was exceptional. Then we had a smoked quail done with earl grey and sour plum, then a Japanese grape, dragon ball jasmine, and cucumber. Next, a roasted chestnut with fermented black bean, caramel and 72% dark chocolate. This was followed by waffles with coconut and durian ice cream sandwiches and a box of mignardises, a sweet selection where I tried one of everything. Every course was impressive, with a medley of flavours, wonderful aromas, odd pairings, and bold combinations. The food combined ingredients from Hong Kong, Taiwan and the provinces of China.
VEA is on Asia’s 50 best list as well as having one Michelin star. This is one instance where I feel the restaurant is deserving of at least two if not three Michelin stars. They tick off every box, decor, outstanding service and noteworthy food and wines. Every time we got up someone was immediately behind our chair to help us. If we dropped a napkin it was replaced in a split second. We were also escorted to the bathroom. Our server Eve was fabulous. It is an expensive meal, but one you won’t regret, or soon forget. Every dish is intricately prepared, with a symphony of flavours. It was Hong Kong’s finest example of contemporary cooking.