I was a big fan of private kitchen TBLS on Hollywood Road, so was very excited to hear that chef Que Vinh Dang had recently opened his eponymous restaurant, Quest by Que on Hennessy Road.
Operating as an actual restaurant, as opposed to a private kitchen, Quest oozes an elegant yet comforting charm that extends to its ingredient-driven menu.
We’re all familiar with Chef Que’s tasting menus from his TBLS days. At Quest, the menu, which also changes monthly, is much more classic and refined, using both classic and modern culinary techniques. The restaurant is not tied to any particular cuisine, but definitely reflects Chef Que’s talents, as he creates his inventive and playful tasting menus inspired by his Vietnamese heritage and his experiences growing up in multicultural New York. He insists on only distributing the menu after the meal is over, in order to keep diners surprised throughout the meal, whilst the sleek, monochromatic décor allows diners to focus solely on the food.
When we visited, not long after the restaurant opened, the menu featured predominantly Vietnamese flavours. Our eight-course tasting menu began with a beautifully presented yellowtail sashimi sitting in a pool of tomato jelly, basil seeds, sea grapes and a yuzu fish sauce that was utterly delicious. The flavours were wonderfully fresh and balanced, clearly indicating the high standard of dishes that would follow.
Next came a deconstructed Boston lobster rice paper roll, with pickled daikon and smoked paprika sauce. The rice paper itself was a little too chewy and sticky for my liking, but beneath this the soft chunks of lobster and crunchy daikon were a match made in heaven.
One of my favourite dishes of the night was the beef pho tartare. Instead of a classic Vietnamese pho, Chef Que’s playful take featured a small mound of grass-fed beef, topped with pho broth jelly, shaved foie gras and fresh herbs, on a bed of vermicelli. If you closed your eyes, this dish had all the flavours in place to remind you of a hearty beef pho, but just without the mess.
Another winning dish was the black cod fillet served with sautéed sugar snaps, swimmer crab and squid ink mochi, glazed with fish sauce caramel. Everything from the crispy skin to the buttery flesh and sweet, sticky sauce was comforting and delicious, to the point where we almost tried to lick the plate clean.
Although the list of ingredients may not sound particularly appealing, the oxtail bun bo hue, with daikon, tripe and pig’s blood was fantastic. The hearty, rich broth was aromatic and flavoursome, whilst the oxtail itself was cooked to perfection and simply melted in the mouth. I wouldn’t say I’d ever choose to eat tripe or pig’s blood, but, drenched in this amazing broth, I ate them without a second thought.
Vietnamese-style pork is something I discovered only recently and it’s now up there amongst my favourite pork dishes. Whilst Chef Que’s grilled Sagabuta pork was itself exceptional, I wasn’t particularly fond of the pairing of Brussels sprouts and purple sweet potato puree. I am normally a big fan of sprouts, but these gave off a strongly acidic flavour that overpowered the pork, whilst the sweet potato was just a little too dense.
After a delicious palate cleanser of calamansi, chilli and yakult sorbet, we came to the last course of the night: almond cake with charred pineapple, salted caramel ice cream and shaved fresh coconut, a dessert that I absolutely loved. Salted caramel is a flavour I simply cannot get enough of, and here it went perfectly with the sweetness of the almond cake and tangy pineapple.
The tasting menu at Quest will set you back $780 per person. Yes, it’s certainly an expensive meal, particularly once you add wine and coffee or tea, but I don’t mind paying high prices for high quality, creative food that’s made with sheer passion. Chef Que has amazed me once again with his exciting menu that finds the perfect balance between creativity and familiarity.
Quest by Que
28/F, 239 Hennessy Road
Tel: +852 2554 0888
Closed Sunday and Monday.