French and Japanese
Date of review: January 6, 2014 | Reviewed by:
Editor's Note: Tate relocated to Hollywood Road in February 2017. The below review refers to our visit to its original location.
Located on one end of Elgin Street in Soho, Tate is a petite restaurant that seats just over 20 people. The white, light-filled space is beautiful, with careful attention to detail shown in the choice of paintings on the wall, light fixtures and even plate settings. The two focal points of the dining room are the open kitchen, where you can see chef Vicky Lau do her magic, as well as the twinkling bar, from where the cocktails are made.
Tate only serves two tasting menus with no a la carte options. The first is a smaller, six-course seasonal “sensualist” menu and there is also a nine-course “gastronomy” menu. While the menus change regularly, there are a few dishes that are popular mainstays, such as the salmon tartar five-ways and the Kagoshima beef tenderloin. One of our very favourite dishes is the “Ode to Tomato” on the summer menu, a deceptively simple starter that highlights this humble fruit. The dish is divided into a neat rectangle of vibrantly coloured panna cotta made of Datterino tomatoes and dotted with bacon cream. The other half of the dish is a large segment of a beefsteak tomato, carefully selected and garnished only with chunks of sea salt. The dish is then tied together with a quenelle of pommery mustard ice cream. Another favourite is the salmon tartar five ways, which is not only a beautiful dish to look at, but also a delight to eat with the mix and match of contrasting textures from the different accompaniments such as crispy rice, chive or wasabi cream. Chef Vicky Lau rarely eats beef herself, so it makes sense that her seafood dishes shine the brightest. The tagliolini with sakura ebi is served al dente with Parmesan foam and is packed full of umami flavours, while the crispy baby shrimps on top provide a nice crunch. Similarly, the pan-seared amadai is packed with flavour thanks to the onion consommé it rests in, with a hint of Asian flavours from daikon and enoki mushrooms. The least memorable part of the meal was probably the dessert, with poached peaches, a peach mousse wrapped in a tuile cookie plus an almond ice cream. While we loved the flavour of the ice cream, overall it lacked a focal point and was not so impressive compared to the main courses.
The wine list at Tate is definitely on the small side, and the wines that are present are not the best of their kind, although the pricing is reasonable. Staff are also a bit confused about the wine, with one member confusing our request for the syrah with a pinot noir. Regardless, we did enjoy our wine from the Rhone valley, and the descriptions by each selection can be helpful for those who are unfamiliar with the bottles.
The service at Tate is a bit uneven, with some members of staff much more alert and knowledgeable than others. The pacing of the dishes, however, deserve to be commended, and it demonstrates a good rapport between the front of house and the kitchen.
The six-course tasting menu is HK$780, while the nine-course menu is HK$1,080. We opted for the six-course menu, which was more than enough food, and with a bottle of wine, it came to just over HK$1,000 per head. Considering the quality of the food, we find this to be good value.