Thursday, 10 January 2013

We ♥ Vegetables @ SEVVA

December. My favourite month of the year! With winter solstice, Christmas, New Year Eve and my b-day all lumped together in December, it is always the month of gatherings, dinners, and shopping. But I've got to admit that I have been in this love-hate relationship with December in recent years... the grand feasts, party-planning and last-minute shopping take a toll on my health, whether physically or psychologically. :( The December of 2012 was the most fruitful yet busiest month in my life. The result of overeating, stress (from work and hectic social life) and inadequate sleep is that my aging stomach has not been feeling well since mid-December. :(

But being a tea lover and a reckless Sagittarius means that I am not giving up afternoon tea, no way! I am going to eat in a healthier way though. That's why SEVVA came to my mind when I was planning for my first afternoon tea in 2013 - it's the only place that serves vegetarian afternoon tea set in HK. ;)

Aware of its no-reservation policy for afternoon tea, Hellish and I arrived at SEVVA before teatime. It was 2:44pm, and a waitress greeted us at the entrance. Then the most ridiculous thing happened. The waitress said that they would only allow customers to start queuing for afternoon tea at 2:45pm - ah, so that's why many ladies were waiting on the ground floor just now. She went on to tell us to go down by the lift and get back to the restaurant at 2:45pm. I really could not believe my ears. This is, as of today, the dumbest thing I have ever heard in my life! There was another girl who arrived at the same time as we did, and she was equally appalled by this stupid suggestion. I protested to the waitress that there was just a minute to go, and a minute could have easily passed by the end of our conversation. Still, the waitress rigidly insisted that we should all leave. She added that we would not be granted the first place in the queue even if we stayed. Oh come on, who cared about being the first?? The restaurant was so big that I didn't worry about not getting a table at all. The point was, it was plain foolish to go down 25 floors and immediately go up again!! 

I told the waitress that we were not going down. She repeated that we would not be given priority for queuing (obviously she didn't hear me...) and said nothing more. While I could totally understand the need of maintaining a strict control of the queuing time, it was absurd, if not rude, to tell the customers to spend a minute in the lift! Couldn't she say something more sensible like, "I'm sorry that there's still a minute before you can start queuing. Why don't you take a look at our sweets and cakes in the corner and start queuing at 2:45pm sharp?" After all, the beautiful patisserie corner in Marie Antoinette style can easily distract any female customer for a minute or two! And it was indeed how I spent that stupid 1 minute.  

In the end, a group of ladies burst from the lift at almost 2:46pm. They were promptly escorted by the waitress to the queuing point. We joined the queue and were ranked 6th or 7th. We got seated immediately when the clock struck 3. I told you it wasn't necessary to be the first, didn't I?

Anyway... we got seated outdoor, as we preferred. The weather was a bit chilly, but it would be a shame not to enjoy winter sunshine on the spacious terrace. I loved their huge outdoor sofas which could accommodate at least 4 persons each. And we had 2 of these sofas to ourselves!

View of Central from the terrace

We were glad to see that the waiters who served us were polite and generally responsive. We just hoped our vegetarian tea set could have come a bit earlier because it was not easy to stay patient in the cold wind. :P

Top tier (clockwise from top): SEVVA vegetable spring roll, golden crumpet with chive cream cheese & cucumber, mini burger with ratatouille 

Middle tier (clockwise from top): mini asparagus roll; deluxe vegetarian club sandwich; SEVVA poori - Indian nachos... our way; tri-coloured tomatoes, avocado, chopped egg white on toasted soylin bread, wild mushroom ragoû on crispy rice cracker 

View of middle tier from another side

Bottom tier (clockwise from top): double chocolate-dipped strawberry, the original caramel crunch cake, SEVVA pineapple carrot cake, cigar wafer cookies, chocolate fudge cake with marmalade, mini Mont Blanc 

If you are biased against vegetarian food like most of my guy friends and have the impression that it is bland, boring and not filling, SEVVA's vegetarian tea set will make you painfully ashamed of your ignorance. ;) This gorgeous tea set looks anything but boring right? The carrot cake (just because I don't like carrot cake) and soggy asparagus roll aside, the tea set was nicely executed. The pastries on the bottom tier are actually the same as those in the non-vegetarian signature tea set. Whether it was SEVVA's famous feather-light crunch cake , the dense orange-scented chocolate cake, or the chocolate-dipped strawberry that could never go wrong... everything was pure bliss. 

The top 2 tiers were the stage for vegetarian savouries. Since veggies have less intense flavours than meat in general, vegetarian chefs tend to use lots of cheese, spices, and herbs to enhance the flavours of their dishes. The result is that, vegetarian dishes are flavourful, sometimes even more so their meaty counterparts. Try their crumpet with oh-so-yummy chive cream cheese, or crispy rice cracker with piquant stewed mushrooms, and you will see what I mean. :) Of course, I enjoyed the toast with tomatoes and avocado cos I love gooey fatty avocado. Who needs meat when veggies taste so good?? If I could have great vegetarian food like these every day, I wouldn't mind being a convert... for a week. :P

So far, so good. This is one of HK's best afternoon tea set - if we do not take its price into account. What is your guess for the price tag? $450? Not even close. $500? Nah. The answer is: a whooping $580, plus 10% service charge!! :0 I was a bit mad that at this hefty price, we were only entitled to choices of everyday tea and coffee... I would love to try the organic teas from Penelope Sach, but they cost extra. :( I really didn't want to dole out more money from my bleeding wallet, so I reluctantly settled for an Earl Grey...  

Ambience: A- (Love the terrace! Despite having opened for several years, SEVVA's niche as one of the hippest place in town remains unchallenged.) 

Service: C- (To be fair, the waiting staff weren't bad as a whole, but the waitress at the entrance was just hopeless. First impression is important!!)

Food: B (Wonderful food that deserves an A-. But value for money? NO!)

Overall remarks: Ok, now it seems that I am in another love-hate relationship... SEVVA is a charming place for tea, but when I pay over $600 for a tea set I would certainly ask for A LOT MORE. At this price, I would expect all food items to come in pairs (or else show me some black truffles :P), gourmet tea instead of Twinings, and most importantly, reasonable service. SEVVA should really organize customer service training for the staff; if this is too expensive, just replace the waitress at the entrance with someone else! 

SEVVA (website)
25/F, Prince's Building, 10 Chater Road, Central, Hong Kong
Afternoon tea: 2:30 - 6:00pm (Mon - Fri), 3:00-6:00pm (Sat)
* Signature Tea Set and vegetarian variation available at $580 for 2 persons


  1. you are at your best when you are being critical and mean

    1. yeah I think so!! I almost wrote "just fire the waitress". haha...

  2. I completely agree with you on the service at Sevva. The last time I was there we were greeted by a rude hostess as well and we were almost suffocating since the ventilation at the waiting area was extremely poor! As delicious as their cakes are, the poor service combined with the hefty price tag, I don't think I want to return.

    1. Too bad, I wonder if that would be the same hostess!!! In fact many Openrice reviews were quite mad with their service too. Same here, I am not returning in the foreseeable future. Maybe the tea set will cost over $600 (without service charge) after a year...