The chef-founder of Tate Dining Room launches a new dining concept on Upper Lascar Row that celebrates one of Asia's most versatile ingredients

At Tate Dining Room, chef Vicky Lau would often turn her lens on the possibilities of specific ingredients and flavours resulting in her now-iconic “odes” menus. In June 2020, Lau created an eight-course feast featuring myriad tofu preparations, from cold noodles with yuba to fermented tofu; later, in January 2021, she explored the complexities of soy sauce and featured six wildly different courses spanning savoury and sweet, each bringing out the character of the ingredient.

Now, a year since Ode to Soy, Lau is going full throttle with a brand new restaurant named Mora—a small 28-seat venue on historic Upper Lascar Row that will delve deep into the world of soybeans, opened with partner Romain Herbreteau and helmed by chef Percy Ho.

See also: Why Snake Soup is Vicky Lau's Comfort Food

It’s an incredible task considering the last two endeavours were experimental menus available for a short period; this time, it’s a bricks-and-mortar restaurant that will focus fully on soy as a common thread throughout its existence. In addition, the majority of the soy-based products that will be used on Mora’s menu are being produced in Lau’s own dedicated factory, which uses a method of extraction that is said to result in a thicker texture and more intense soy aroma. From soy sauce to tofu and soy milk, the ingredients find themselves presented in dishes that are classically Lau—that is, incredibly detailed and with a beautiful aesthetic.

At Mora, the opening lunch tasting menu—titled 'Characters of Soy'—is split into five textural categories. The first, Silken, features dishes like homemade tofu served with condiments, and shima-aji tartare served with bean curd puff stick; while the following category of Crisp leans towards the other end of the spectrum with crispy local threadfin with tofu skin fish fumet, deep-fried tofu cubes with Iberico ham and more. At the mid-point, Jade entails deep fried crispy red bean curd local chicken, and hand-pulled cold udon noodle in soy milk chicken bouillon with a spicy bean paste. The last savoury course of Mora's seasonally changing house mapo tofu is found in Dew, while Ice presents a dessert course of sweet potato brulée with homemade soy milk ice cream. Throughout the meal, drinks pairings alternate between wines and artisanal teas. 

Mora's interior, meanwhile, is as refined as its predecessor at Tate Dining Room. Designed by Sean Dix, the venue borrows from Song Dynasty art, Shanghai's French Concession of the 1930s, and the surrounding antique shops of Upper Lascar Row. A sculptural bar in travertine, tofu skin-inspired 3D-printed pendant lamps, the 1930s-inspired sconces and reception counter abound with character, while illustrated panels throughout the restaurant guide guests through the tofu-making process.

“Soy sauce is a staple condiment in all Chinese households and an essential flavour in so many of the dishes I loved when growing up—which is what inspired me to dedicate one of Tate’s “Ode To” menus to this simple yet versatile seasoning that is so emblematic of Asian cuisines,” she told Tatler Dining previously. Lau also paid homage to Hong Kong’s local tofu maker Kung Wo Beancurd Factory, which she worked with closely during the research and development phase of her initial Ode to Tofu menu.

“At Mora, I aim to create an entirely new genre of soy-based dishes from all my learnings in and out of the kitchen, bridging emotions and memories with bistro-inspired cooking techniques,” says Lau.

Mora is now open for lunch reservations.

Mora

Sheung Wan
© 2022 Tatler Asia Limited. All rights reserved.