tasting menu

The Urban Tea Merchant - Sakura Tea Set by Jenn Chan

The Urban Tea Merchant Sakura Tea Set

The Urban Tea Merchant Sakura Tea Set

The decision by The Urban Tea Merchant (TUTM) to extend their very popular Sakura Tea Set until the end of May is the best thing to happen to you today whether you know it or not! 

Urban Tea Merchant
Wall of Teas

Wall of Teas

Urban Tea Merchant Gift Set
2016 Darjeeling Nouveau

2016 Darjeeling Nouveau

Chef Cliff Hohl has an innate flair for Japanese fusion and the "tea gastronomy" dishes in the Sakura Tea Set hit the mark. The term, Tea gastronomy, which I believe they coined themselves, is the practice of using tea, in some way, in all of their dishes. Chef Hohl was gracious enough to take the time to lay out our platter personally and explain each different morsel in mouth watering detail.

Tea Prep
Gold Yin Zhen tea, sprinkled with 24K gold flakes

Gold Yin Zhen tea, sprinkled with 24K gold flakes

Gold Yin Zhen tea

Gold Yin Zhen tea

 

Three different teas accompanied out meal and started with a 2016 Darjeeling Nouveau which had been picked from the Darjeeling region of India only 3 weeks earlier. The Darjeeling is the champagne of teas and it doesn't take more than a sip to know why! We then partook in their very popular Bain de Roses tea, which literally translated means Rose Bath, but was much more subtle, followed by my personal favourite, the limited edition, Sakura! Sakura! Tea. TWG Tea is the only tea the TUTM serves and it is world renowned for a reason. There may or may not be some exciting news about the TWG and TUTM partnership coming up, but it isn't my news to break :)

2016 Darjeeling Nouveau, Bain De Roses Tea, Sakura Tea

2016 Darjeeling Nouveau, Bain De Roses Tea, Sakura Tea

Sakura Tea Set

Sakura Tea Set


We were advised to start with the Wagyu Beef, which was perched just centimetres above a piping hot bowl of soup that was to be its final destination, as it was to be cooked in the Japanese Shabu Shabu hotspot style. Do some quick research on Wagyu Beef and you will see why it was such a tender piece of meat and very flavourful.
 

"Houjicha" Beef Wagyu, Shabu Shabu

"Houjicha" Beef Wagyu, Shabu Shabu

Wagyu Beef Cooking in Tea-infused Soup

Wagyu Beef Cooking in Tea-infused Soup


We then moved on to the Seared Scallops in Wild Boar Jam. The scallops were soaked in Sakura! Sakura! Tea and the earthy, floral flavour shined through and was a wonderful compliment to the Wild Boar Jam. The Kumamoto Oyster was next and it was delightful with a sweet Passionfruit Tea Jelly. 
 

Sakura! Sakura! Tea "Stained Seared Scallop, Wild Boar Jam, Yuzu Gel

Sakura! Sakura! Tea "Stained Seared Scallop, Wild Boar Jam, Yuzu Gel

Kumamoto Oyster with Togarashi "Passion Fruit Tea" Jelly

Kumamoto Oyster with Togarashi "Passion Fruit Tea" Jelly

The main course is a Miso Maple Sablefish. Being well travelled foodies and prolific food / lifestyle bloggers, my partner and I tried to think of the amount of times in the past few months we'd had Miso Sablefish; it was 4! Our fifth Sablefish was our favourite, by far, hands down! Chef Hohl's Sablefish secrets, I'm told, will die with him, but the fish was cooked to perfection and its light, buttery flavour was absolutely stunning and we will be back time and time again for it alone and we haven't even gotten to the desserts yet!

 

Miso Maple Sablefish, with Watermelon Radish & Deep Fried Lotus Leaf, on Shiso Leaf

Miso Maple Sablefish, with Watermelon Radish & Deep Fried Lotus Leaf, on Shiso Leaf

The dessert included a Bain de Roses Macaron, a tea-infused Ricotta Cheesecake, a Chocolate Dipped Strawberry and a lovely array of Fresh Fruit. All were heavenly with the Ricotta Cheesecake being my favourite, but only by a nose.

 

 “ Sakura! Sakura! Tea ” Pavlova, TWG Tea Macaron, “ Tokyo-Singapore Tea ” Cheesecake, White and Dark Chocolate Dipped Strawberry & Mélange of Fresh Fruit

 “Sakura! Sakura! Tea” Pavlova, TWG Tea Macaron, “Tokyo-Singapore Tea” Cheesecake, White and Dark Chocolate Dipped Strawberry & Mélange of Fresh Fruit

In all this tea set from The Urban Tea Merchant left us feeling full and satisfied, the service was exceptional, a perfect 10, and the atmosphere is lovely; it is a must do!

 

Darjeeling Tea, Bain De Roses Tea, Sakura Tea
Words: Scott Allan
Photos: Jenn Chan
 

MARKET by Jean-Georges :: Sakura Tasting Menu by Jenn Chan

MARKET by Jean-Georges

Jean-Georges Vongerichten is a French chef who studied his craft in the south of France before making the move to New York City in 1985. Market by Jean-Georges is his only foray into Canada, and the west coast itself, though he fronts 30 restaurants from Shanghai all the way to Mexico.

 

The dining room is contemporary and well-imagined and it is hard, upon being escorted to your table, to miss the smattering of Moët and Veuve Clicquot bottles throughout the upscale space. Our table was a meticulously kept booth overlooking the floor to ceiling windows perched 3 floors above the elegant shopping on Alberni Street. A gleaming Prada store, fresh from its grand opening, beckons from below with a steady stream of happy, well heeled customers buzzing in and out of its grand doors.

MARKET by Jean-Georges Lounge

MARKET by Jean-Georges Lounge

MARKET by Jean-Georges Dining Room

MARKET by Jean-Georges Dining Room

MARKET by Jean-Georges Dining Room

MARKET by Jean-Georges Dining Room

MARKET by Jean-Georges Private Dining Room

MARKET by Jean-Georges Private Dining Room

For variety's sake we chose the Sakura tasting menu with some imaginative wine pairings, opting against the alternative sake pairings, and one meal à la carte. So taken was I by our waiter's keen suggestions that I left wine pairings for my à la carte selections to his discretion and was not disappointed.

Osake

Osake

Sakura Tasting Menu

Sakura Tasting Menu

 

The first Sakura course was a very fresh Stripe Shrimp and Eggplant Salad paired with a fantastic sparkling rosé from BC's own Grey Monk Winery in the beautiful Okanagan Valley. Luckily my partner was in a sharing mood! The shrimp melts in your mouth at the first hint of carbonation from the rosé and there were many heartfelt "mmmmm's" during the first course. I chose an Angus Beef Carpaccio with a very surprising Taragon Mayonnaise which was paired nicely with a Pinot Noir from the Meyer Family Winery also of the nearby Okanagan Valley. It was splendid!

Sake & Wine Pairing

Sake & Wine Pairing

Fresh Stripe Shrimp & Eggplant Salad

Fresh Stripe Shrimp & Eggplant Salad

Beef Carpaccio with Tarragon Mayonnaise

Beef Carpaccio with Tarragon Mayonnaise

 

The second Sakura course saw another lovely seafood dish come out as sublime morsels of Albacore Tune were brought alongside Sake Cured Torchons of Foie Gras all in a Passionfruit Miso Sauce. Not being a big liver fan I attempted to pass on my generous partner's first offer to share, but after her marvelling at the symphony of flavours I ventured in and was please I did so. The fish was incredibly supple and fresh, as one would assume from being only a stone's throw, perhaps more aptly a cannon shot, away from the Pacific Ocean. I had ordered the Soft Shell Crab with Summer Squash and was delighted, as was my partner, with the quality of the seafood and the freshness, though only spring, of the Summer Squash.

Albacore Tuna - Sake Cured Torchon of foie gras, with passionfruit miso sauce

Albacore Tuna - Sake Cured Torchon of foie gras, with passionfruit miso sauce

Crispy Soft Shell Crab, with summer squash, basil & soy oil

Crispy Soft Shell Crab, with summer squash, basil & soy oil

 

Next on the Sakura menu came the Clams steamed in Sake while I busily worked on my Soft Shell Crab. It was paired with a wonderful Chablis from the Pascal Bouchard Winery in Burgundy, France. So taken by it was I that I ordered a glass to accompany my dessert, but I am, quite regrettably, though excusably, getting ahead of myself! The clams were wonderful and it didn't take long before my partner was eating them right out of the shells so as to afford herself more opportunity to partake in the Sake, Soy, Butter and Garlic sauce they swam in. I must admit that I also abandoned a modicum of table etiquette, at her behest, in the same endeavour and it was simply wonderful!

Clams steamed in Sake - soy, butter, garlic

Clams steamed in Sake - soy, butter, garlic

 

Following fresh on the heels of our divine clam experience it was time for the main courses... To say we were satisfied with them is like saying we were satisfied with being born; it was not something we had planned, like our birth, but, on this night at least, integral to our happiness on Earth in every imaginable way! The Sakura menu boasted, boasted, a Sablefish Marinated in Sake Lees accompanied by Crispy Rice and an Edamame Purée. The fish was cooked to perfection and complimented its side dishes with flair and was paired with a subtly tart Chardonnay from the Hester Winery, again, from The Okanagan Valley. If you're unfamiliar with the Okanagan Valley I pray you do some research! It is the location of the paternal side of my family's emigration to Canada, Canada's only desert climate and has the most amazing collection of fresh water lakes, some 72 Km's long, I have ever come across in my extensive travels. In summer it is a paradise; stated without a hint of hyperbole.

Sablefish Marinated in Sake Lees, with crispy rice & edamame puree

Sablefish Marinated in Sake Lees, with crispy rice & edamame puree

 

For my entrée I went with the Beef Tenderloin in a Red Wine Jus. As I like my meat rare I was very pleased with the red hue that I was able to spot from across the dining room as the wait staff arrived with my meal. It was cooked just the way I like it and as tender as a warm summer's breeze. It was paired with an intriguing Cabernet Sauvignon from the Cannonball Wine Company in California's Napa Valley. It was another wonderful selection from our pleasant host Nathan, presumably Nate to his friends, a stalwart fellow with a calm, friendly demeanour who seemed like the kind of guy who would also have good suggestions for beer pairings; my personal beverage of choice.

Rare Beef Tenderloin

Rare Beef Tenderloin

 

The Sakura menu offered a Matcha Sponge Cake as its dessert and it was greedily devoured by my partner. It had a lovely texture, was very, very fresh, but I have just never developed a taste for Matcha so I skillfully declined a second tasting when it was offered. Having had trouble deciding between the Warm Chocolate Cake with Vanilla Ice Cream and the MARKET Cheesecake with Crispy Strawberries and Strawberry Sorbet Nathan suggested a smaller serving of each. If these were smaller servings then I am a monkey's uncle! This was the first time, that I know of, that Nate had ever lied to me :) The lava cake tasted as though it had just come from the oven and the lava flowed forth with a thick, rich avalanche of chocolaty goodness. The cheesecake ranks among my top 10. So light and airy without any hint of roof clinginess that besets other desserts of its ilk. When combined with the tangy sorbet it formed a tag team duo that really punctuated the entire dining experience.

Matcha Sponge Cake - biwa, ume plum semi freddo

Matcha Sponge Cake - biwa, ume plum semi freddo

Assorted Dessert

Assorted Dessert

Sakura Bun with Red Bean Paste

Sakura Bun with Red Bean Paste

 

Market by Jean-Georges, at the base of Vancouver's tallest tower and inside one of the city's plushest luxury hotels, the Shangri-La Vancouver, is a must see! If you can't find it just look up. The Shangri-La has dominated the Vancouver skyline since it was built in 2008 and still boasts the title of tallest tower though the regrettably named Trump Tower, located just across Georgia Street, comes in only 43 feet shorter.

MARKET by Jean-Georges Dining Room

MARKET by Jean-Georges Dining Room

 

Words: Scott Allan
Photos: Jenn Chan