Hi everyone, it's been a while since my last update! Haven't been in the mood for writing but I haven't stopped having tea... it's time to clear the backlog! ;)
I visited Kindergarten, a tiny cafe in Tai Hang, about 2 weeks ago. While Kindergarten is known for its cozy atmosphere, it's perhaps even more famous for its odd opening hours - it's opened only on Saturdays, Sundays, and public holidays! Advance booking is absolutely essential. Not sure if this is a planned marketing strategy, but the exclusivity accorded by its extremely short business hours has doubtlessly made it one of the most sought after cafes in HK.
The storefront is small and so is its signboard... it's quite easy to miss it even when you are in Sun Chun Street. Find your way with Google Maps!
We were seated in a corner close to the entrance. The chairs were like those for primary school kids. As an adult, I could not say the low chair was really comfortable, but it was a sweet idea after all. :)
I was truly excited by the chalks and blackboard on our small table! It seems that the cafe is named Kindergarten because it's a place for our inner children. :)
Details like this made me smile ;)
The wooden interior imparted rustic charm to the cafe; for a moment I thought I was in one of those kissaten in Jiyugaoka. The full house at 5pm certainly said something about its popularity. The popularity backfired, unfortunately. When 15 people were crammed into a 15-square-metre (approximately) dining area, the result was that Hellish and I were deafened by laughter from the next table and could not hear what each other was saying! The noise completely ruined the laid-back mood of what the cafe had intended to create. :(
Another problem that I couldn't ignore was that they confused high tea with afternoon tea. What they offer as high tea set - sandwiches and pastries on a tiered stand, completed with scones - is obviously an afternoon tea set. Although this misconception is extremely widespread in HK, I expected Kindergarten to know better as tea set is their signature item. :( Personally I find this afternoon tea vs. high tea differentiation a litmus test to distinguish places that serve tea from proper tea places, or tea-goers from bona fide tea lovers. ;) Flabbergasted that you are merely a tea-goer? Read this so you can proudly declare yourself an educated tea lover afterwards!
Beverage was not included in our tea set so we had to order our drinks separately. There was a great variety of delicious drinks on the wooden menu. Since I had come to the conclusion that Kindergarten was not a proper tea place, I decided to choose something other than tea. In the end Hellish ordered their famous iced chocolate and I ordered a berry smoothie. The iced chocolate, which came with a scoop of chocolate ice cream, was a real delight that would satisfy even the most hard-core chocoholic's craving! :9
I had pre-ordered the tea set, but it took more than 35 minutes for it to arrive. The slow service was a mystery because there were 3 ladies at the open kitchen and there were only 4 parties in the cafe...
Top tier: heart-shaped pastries filled with chocolate, strawberry tarts
Middle tier (clockwise from top): chocolate cake, scone and jam, strawberry Napoleon
Open sandwiches at the bottom tier (clockwise from top): crab meat and mayo(?), Parma ham, mushroom and cream cheese(?), ham and cheese, mushroom and mustard, salmon
You would be disappointed, just as we were, to know that the food was only so-so. :( The sandwiches tasted rather bland, which I found unbelievable because they had such appetizing colours! Despite not being more skilled than 地獄廚神 (as in 美女廚房, not in Gordon Ramsay's "Hell's Kitchen" :P), I am confident that I can make better sandwiches... I have nothing against their home-style food, but at least it should be a cut above what I can make at MY home, right??
The pastries were okay at best. The only things that impressed me were the sweet and HUGE strawberries on the tarts. Scones were on the hard side and tasted floury. They obviously had not used enough butter... :(
I haven't told you about the smoothie I ordered - because it arrived even later than the tea set, about 45 minutes after I had placed the order! It was yummy and refreshing, but what took them so long to prepare it??
Ambience: B- (I loved the quirky interior, but we left immediately after we had finished the tea set because we got tired of lip reading...)
Service: B-- (I might be more tolerant of the slow service had the cafe not been so noisy!)
Food: B-- (I almost gave a C+ but I settled on this grade after factoring in the pretty tea stand, smiley sandwich, and doggie food pick :P)
Overall remarks: At the end of the day, I asked myself: is it worth driving all the way to Tai Hang for this tea set? My answer was NO. But if you live nearby, it won't hurt to check it out... just make sure that you go with a lot of friends so you will be the rowdiest party instead of being bothered by noise from other tables!
G/F, 35 Sun Chun Street, Tai Hang, Hong Kong
Afternoon tea: 3 sessions (2:00pm-3:30pm; 3:30pm-5:00pm; 5:00pm-7:00pm) every Sat, Sun and PH
$178 per 2 persons