Taiwanese tasting menu at Hyatt Regency Vancouver showcases chef's culinary travels

In 2013, Hyatt Regency Vancouver executive chef Thomas Heinrich was selected for a culinary tour of Taiwan. Heinrich and two other North American chefs—from Los Angeles and New York—were chosen by the Taiwan Tourism Bureau to experience the food and culture across the island.

The eight-day trip was recorded for a 30-minute documentary, Taste Taiwan, which will air on the Discovery Channel on February 15 in the U.S. (Canadian audiences will be able to watch the episode online at that time, and a link will be provided on Taste Taiwan’s Facebook page.)

Heinrich has now created a four-course Taiwanese tasting menu inspired by the trip. The menu is available at the Hyatt’s Mosaic Grille and Bar until February 13, with possibility of being extended. The tasting menu is $45, or $65 including wine pairings with each course.

At a media preview on January 29, I had a chance to try the menu, which Heinrich stresses is not authentic Taiwanese food, but dishes inspired by the flavours of Taiwanese cuisine executed using French cooking techniques. Each course corresponds to a specific region visited or experience encountered during Heinrich’s trip, such as a stop in Beipu to learn about Hakka tea, and a specific sculpture at the National Palace Museum in Taipei.

Below are photos of the Taiwanese tasting menu.

Michelle da Silva

Fish balls made from lingcod and scallops are topped with ground pork, slices of green onion and pickled ginger, with broth added tableside. The delicate soup was inspired by Heinrich’s trip to the fish market in Chijin and is paired with Gray Monk’s 2011 Riesling.

Michelle da Silva

Hakka tea-crusted lingcod served with green-onion purée, a lemon-vinegar gel, crushed peanuts, and miniature fried mochi balls. This dish, inspired by Heinrich’s experience of making Hakka tea in Beipu, was served with Cedar Creek’s 2011 “Platinum” Block 5 Chardonnay.

Michelle da Silva

Five-spice braised pork belly is based on a dish at the Silks Palace restaurant, which takes its inspiration from art displayed at Taipei’s National Palace Museum. One of the museum’s well-known sculptures is a piece of agate, carved and dyed to form the likeness of a cooked piece of pork belly. Here, chef Heinrich’s pork belly has been seasoned with licorice root, garlic, nutmeg, cinnamon, and fennel seeds, and served with baby leeks and sliced turnip. This course is paired with the “Diamond” Shiraz from Southeastern Australia’s Rosemount Estate winery.

Michelle da Silva

Heinrich said that his dessert, a pineapple cake served with sesame ice-cream, was inspired by a Taiwanese pineapple cake he was given on his final day in Taiwan. Similar to the Taiwanese version, Heinrich’s cake features a flaky, cookie-like crust (he noted that his dough was similar to shortbread), and a thick pineapple jam filling. The dessert is paired with Hester Creek’s “Late Harvest” Pinot Blanc.

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