MARKET by Jean-Georges, the restaurant located at Vancouver’s Shangri-La Hotel, recently introduced two new faces. Montgomery Lau has been appointed chef de cuisine and David Auer is the new restaurant manager.
Lau, who grew up in Hong Kong, received his training at Vancouver’s Pacific Institute of Culinary Arts. He was part of the opening kitchen staff at MARKET in 2009 before leaving for two years to help launch the Westin Wall Centre at the Vancouver Airport and competing on behalf of B.C. in a national cooking competition. In 2012, Lau returned to MARKET as sous chef, working under Wayne Harris, before being promoted to chef de cuisine this September.
Auer has worked throughout Austria and Switzerland, and began his restaurant career in Vancouver at the now-closed Divino Wine Bar. Prior to starting at MARKET, Auer managed Uva wine bar and Cibo Trattoria inside the Moda Hotel and French restaurant Le Gavroche.
To celebrate his new position and the beginning of fall, chef Lau has launched a Harvest tasting menu. The $68 five-course tasting menu features seasonal ingredients done in Jean-Georges Vongerichten’s signature Asian-influenced French cuisine.
At a recent media event, I had a chance to sample the menu, which is available during dinner service until October 15.
Following a playful amuse bouche of sweet-potato macaron, the meal begins with tuna tartare, topped with thinly-sliced avocado, and served with bonito-flavoured crispy tapioca. While the crispy tapioca, which seems to take its inspiration from puffed prawn crackers popular in Southeast Asia, I found chef Lau’s version ever-so-slightly chewy. Sommelier Karen Siemens’ selection of Codorníu winery’s dry sparkling rosé, however, was spot on, balancing the creaminess of the avocado and tartare.
The dish that follows is Dungeness crab fritters with Asian pear and endive. The fritters reminded me of Japanese takoyaki, but without the bite that octopus usually has. The sweet, crisp pear and slight bitterness of the shaved endive elevates the dish, which was paired will with a glass of Viognier from Penticton’s La Frenz Winery.
The third course was the highlight for me: pan-seared sea bream—an Ocean Wise fish—over a bed of corn, chanterelle mushrooms, and a sweet carrot reduction. Here, the sea bream was perfectly cooked, silky and moist with a crispy skin. The earthiness of the chanterelles never over-powers the fish, and the sweet corn and carrots work well with the savoury aspects of the dish.
To follow, chef Lau presents a grilled lamb chop, unusually topped with a small mountain of pecorino and served alongside mushroom Bolognese and broccolini. Siemens selected the rich and full-bodied Ribera del Duero from Spain’s Bodegas Emilio Moro to pair.
Finally, dessert. Perhaps of all the dishes, Lau best captures the fall harvest with his sweet finale: a spiced rum-infused French toast topped with roasted apples, raisins, and a scoop of brown-butter ice-cream perched on top of crushed graham crackers. For me, these flavours of spice, apple, and browned butter—which were indulgently paired with a rich walnut liqueur—are what I crave on chilly nights, and how I wanted to end a good meal.
Chef Lau’s Harvest tasting menu is available at MARKET by Jean-Georges until October 15.