Vasco, voted Restaurant of the Year for 2015 by you foodies, has introduced a duo of vegetarian menus to bolster their already reputable fine dining offerings. Fresh, seasonal vegetables appear, from bright summer peas to earthy autumn saffron. Cocottes and a cereal soup provide flavour and nourishment and keeps guests guessing as to the form the next course will assume. The eight course tasting menu comes in at $980, and the six course at $780.
What can be challenging in Hong Kong is avoiding the misconception that luxury items like uni and Wagyu will add fullness to a meal or experience by virtue of presence. Foie gras is ubiquitous in the city, and come truffle season, good luck finding anything that is not covered in delicate shavings of the rare fungus. What Vasco do well is cater to the emerging demand for ingredient driven, thoughtful vegetable cooking that compromises on nothing but overdone, lavish additives.
The olive oils that are presented in wine format at the beginning of the meal are aromatic and satisfying, smothering the sourdough in viscous fruity oil. The sourdough is very nicely done, and though the crust could be that touch crunchier, the soft wheat quality of the interior is outstanding. This is a striking component to the Vasco experience and is worth noting that is done better than most Hong Kong restaurants.
White asparagus tartare (above) with a cherry veil and frozen fennel enters first, and the jalapeño mousse made this our favourite dish of the evening.
Juxtaposingly, slow cooked baby endive with caper crumble, olives and thyme was least esteemed. It was an odd choice to take a bitter leaf and fill it with salty olives and capers. For us the dish was all round too harsh; big flavours constantly clashing.
We liked the beauty of the black quinoa (right) which contrasted with broccoli, but the the tiny florets did nothing to enhance the flavour of the cucumber and sheep's yoghurt soft creme, and therefore became a beauty over substance course.
Farmhouse egg yolk with a liquid herb sauce, mushroom and piment d’Espelette was most enjoyable, and the saffron risotto (below) was not overpowering with saffron flavour as most dishes featuring the spice are–a pleasant change. The risotto itself, however, did not come together as we thought it would concerning texture; rice and sauce remained quite obviously separate.
The cocotte of vegetables was simple and tasty; the carrot and vanilla puree bringing out the best of the kale, sugar snap peas and asparagus and tied together beautifully by the tamarind jam.
The first dessert (left) was really unusual and we liked it a lot. A play on cereals, the barley water and tangy citrus from the orange was marvellous. Orange seems always to be beat out by the more popular cousin, yuzu, but on this occasion the fruit was given ample opportunity to shine and the dessert is made all the better for it.
Textured chocolate (below) with coffee and whisky ice shards finishes the meal superbly.
6 /F and 7 /F Block B, Police Married Quarters (PMQ), 35 Aberdeen Street
Reservations: 2156 0888 / 2156 1818
Business Hours: 12p.m. to 3p.m., 7p.m. to 12a.m. (Monday to Saturday)