As we all know, Hong Kong is a renowned culinary city, with a good mixture of East meets West eateries alongside the local Cantonese ones. Relatively easy import and immigration laws mean chefs and restaurateurs can come from all over the world to try their luck in our dining scene. However, all this action does mean there’s something of an identity crisis when it comes to defining a homegrown Hong Kong flavour that’s encapsulated by at least one standout restaurant. Of course, there are certain products that scream Hong Kong, like Pat Chun vinegar and Tai Cheong Bakery’s egg tarts – but an eatery that fully represents our city’s cuisine like Noma does Copenhagen or Jiro does Tokyo is still lacking.
Until VEA, that is. VEA stands for Vicky Et Antonio – Vicky and Antonio in French. Vicky is Vicky Cheng, the visionary chef formerly of Liberty Private Works, and Antonio is Antonio Lai, the legendary bartender behind Origin, The Envoy and Quinary.
The establishment takes up the top two floors of The Wellington. VEA’s lounge is on the 29th floor, while the restaurant occupies the level above. The eatery’s space is comprised completely of counter seating, so you can watch the chefs preparing your meal right before your eyes. Brass fixtures with exposed filaments in pretty cut crystal bulbs and white leather-backed stools give off a chic rather than an industrial vibe.
As for the food, there are tasting menus available (six courses for HK$1,680 and eight-courses for HK$1,980) which are updated regularly. Signatures that do stay on the menu include a sea cucumber with kuruma prawn and fish maw with caviar and quinoa.
Originality is easier said than done. Odd pairings and bold combinations can often be disastrous or inappropriate. But there’s none of that at VEA. The Asian infusions are well thought out and the quality of the main ingredients is only enhanced here. All the flavours are fine-tuned with finesse and there’s a sense of Hong Kong cuisine in every offering. The result? a homegrown restaurant that not only encapsulates how good our city’s cuisine can be but one Hong Kong can take to the world too.