Celebrating Relais & Châteaux in Asia with an eight-hands lunch at Tate Dining Room
The other week, I had the opportunity to revisit Tate Dining Room & Bar (1 Michelin star) for a unique eight-hands lunch hosted by Relais & Châteaux. First off, I adore Tate. I’ve only been once before, when it reopened at its current Sheung Wan location, but was blown away by Chef Vicky Lau’s masterful ability to take what’s familiar and transform into something otherworldly. I still think about her ‘Ode to a Chiu Chow Classic’ foie gras egg custard with marinated goose and her amazing brioche with fermented tofu butter. Tate is one of the Asia-based restaurants that are part of Relais & Châteaux which gives you an indication of the kind of places they welcome.
If you haven’t heard of Relais & Châteaux, it is, in my words, a France-based company that focuses on finding and promoting the loveliest boutique hotels and restaurants worldwide. You won’t find any large chains as members, even if they are of the five-star variety. Rather each property and restaurant has applied and been chosen to be part of the global fellowship because of their commitment to offering quality (meeting Relais & Châteaux’s list of over 300 standards!) with soul. Each is passionate about hospitality, gastronomy, authenticity and increasingly sustainability as well. Luxury is mandatory but approached in a homey, approachable way. Personally, I love that each property listing on the website mentions who the owner is - adds to that homey, personal feel. Currently there are over 550 unique hotels and restaurants over five continents and 60 countries including the classic Saint James Paris and super hot SingleThread Farm in Healdsburg, California.
During our lunch, we had the opportunity to sample dishes from a variety of Relais & Châteaux members across Asia. In addition to two dishes from Chef Vicky, there were ones from Chef Nicholas Chew of Bibo (Hong Kong), Chef Jimmy Chen of Villa 32 (Taipei), and Chef Eric Yu of Seven Villas (Hangzhou location).
Sometimes I feel like it’s a shame that we’re so reliant on rankings nowadays. Before choosing to spend time or money on something, we want to check that it’ll be worth it. We scour photos and reviews and see and read about other peoples’ experiences and lose that surprise aspect. But I realize that this view is a bit outdated … when we’re pressed for time or on a budget, it’s just smart to do some homework. Given Relais & Châteaux’s dedication to quality and stringent quality checks, I think it’s definitely a good place to start when searching for a unique hotel stay or restaurant. They’ve recently launched a new website and intuitive app so definitely give those a browse. But after our lunch, the hosts gave us each a copy of the Relais & Châteaux Guide 2019 … can’t wait to be a little old school give that printed book a browse and do a little vacation dreaming.
Tate Dining Room & Bar, 210 Hollywood Rd, Sheung Wan, 2555 2172
Bibo, 163 Hollywood Rd, Sheung Wan, 2956 3188
Villa 32, No. 32, Zhongshan Road, Beitou District, Taipei City, Taiwan 112, +886 2 6611 8888
Seven Villas, No.1 Ba Pan Ling Road, West Lake District, Xihu, 310007 Hangzhou,+86 571 8886 7888
Relais & Châteaux https://www.relaischateaux.com