Showing posts with label savouries. Show all posts
Showing posts with label savouries. Show all posts

Tuesday, 1 July 2014

Jean Paul Hévin Chocolate Afternoon Tea Set @ Cafe 103, The Ritz-Carlton Hong Kong


I have never been keen on football. My high school used to teach us girls to play football in PE lessons (boys and girls had PE lessons separately in my school). I still remember how we tried to avoid the football as if we were playing dodgeball - we were obviously more interested in preventing our legs from bruising rather than scoring. There were only a few football lessons but the awkwardness was traumatizing enough for me not to like football. :0

Logically, I don't watch football games. World Cup is the only exception though. I used to be really, really ecstatic about World Cup! Rather than the games, what I truly enjoyed were the privileges during World Cup, i.e. staying up late, munching on midnight snacks, shouting out loud with Dad and Bro... the joy was endless. :) Of course, watching cute football celebrities added to the fun... though my friends generally disagreed with me that Ronaldinho was cute. :P 

Sadly, World Cup has become much less enjoyable these years. Now being a sleep-deprived, full-time employee, staying up late has become more a chore than something to feel excited about. The bottom line is, watching World Cup is no longer a free entertainment. THIS IS SO NOT COOL. :( 

I decided that celebrating World Cup over afternoon tea might be my painless way out. Cafe 103 (formerly The Chocolate Library) of The Ritz-Carlton HK has teamed up with Jean Paul Hévin to prove that these 2 polarized interests can actually be harmonized. Together they have created a chocolate afternoon tea set with a South American theme to celebrate 2014 World Cup Brazil! This is far more exciting than watching World Cup via Xiaomi Hezi and lamenting the poor stability of live streaming. 




Weather was brilliant on the day of our visit. As the restaurant was on 103/F, we enjoyed an expansive view of Victoria Harbour from the window. People say Hong Kong is dying, and I think it is. Ridiculous things that used to happen elsewhere now hit the headlines of our local newspapers every day. Whenever the thought of moving away from HK clouds my mind, it is always the beautiful harbour that reminds me there are still things I love about HK after all. 




The glorious tea treats arrived in a wooden cigar box evocative of South America. :) 




Savoury (clockwise from top): duck foie gras pâté mini puff with Cuba cocoa nibs; seafood and dill cream, Brazilian coffee bread sandwich; vanilla cocoa oil marinated smoked salmon, rye bread sandwich; truffle egg mayonnaise brown bread sandwich




Sweet (left to right, top to bottom): "Macae" strawberry pepper verrine, religieuse, crusty chocolate tart, orange flavour Madeleine, Piura chocolate macaroon, Brazilian chocolate bonbon




One more sweet item: coffee hot chocolate, a combination of the 2 best things from Brazil. It's as rich as melted chocolate!




This is a tea set that would leave you a great sense of satisfaction even if you have the most insatiable appetite for chocolates, because the chefs have used cocoa in making all the sweets and even half of the savouries! It would actually be more sensible to worry more about intoxication! ;)


Although every piece of sweet tasted flawlessly of fine chocolates, I managed to pick out my top 3 favourites: 

2nd runner-up - chocolate macaroon
Now with macaron shops blooming in HK, you may easily stumble on a better macaron, but I'm not sure if you can find a better chocolate macaron than this. The melt-in-your-mouth layer of chocolate ganache, which had a distinct note of berry-like fruitiness unique to premium dark chocolate, was beautiful. :9

1st runner-up - crusty chocolate tart
A chocolate twin of mille-feuille, this is going to be everyone's teatime sweetheart.

Winner - "Macae" strawberry pepper verrine
This was really, really good. It would in fact be somewhat insulting to use "good" to describe it because it's so much more than that!  First the pepper teases your palate, then fleshy strawberries thrill your taste buds... and Brazilian chocolate rounds off the tartness as the grand finale. Try this and enjoy the gustatory roller coaster ride!

The quality of the savouries was sufficient to make up for the small quantity. The truffle egg sandwich completely blew our minds - the truffle was soooo powerfully fragrant that I don't think they needed any specially trained pig to sniff it out in the forest (I would be happy to do that job, wahaha :P)! I didn't notice the presence of cocoa oil in salmon sandwich, perhaps because the rye bread tasted too strong. The combination of foie gras with cocoa nibs was more interesting; the earthy cocoa nibs gave nuances to the evil puff and enhanced the sweetness of foie gras. Delicioso! :9

We ordered Cafe 103's signature hot chocolate as beverage. We knew we were having too much chocolate but we were just too tempted to have a complete chocolate experience! We kinda regretted the choice, though, when we later learnt that a cup of coffee hot chocolate was already included in the tea set. :0 For a moment I worried if I could be the first person died of chocolate overdose, but then I thought maybe it wasn't so bad to die in that way anyhow. :P




Like any other branded afternoon tea sets, the tea set comes with coupons. Each coupon entitles you to a 10% discount in JPH boutiques. While you may not want any more chocolate after tasting the tea set, you can buy some for your family and friends to share your love for South America. :) 



THE VERDICT 
Ambience: A-

Service: A 

Food: A- (A chocoholic's dream come true! :9)

Overall remarks: It's obvious that the South Americans are ruling the world with football AND chocolates this summer! If you don't have a favourite South American football team, join the bandwagon by picking your favourite South American chocolate from this tea set!



INFO
Cafe 103 (website)
103/F, The Ritz-Carlton, International Commerce Centre, 1 Austin Road West, Kowloon, Hong Kong
Afternoon tea: 3:30-6:00pm daily
Jean Paul Hévin Chocolate Afternoon Tea Set available from now to 31 July 2014
$318 for 1 person, $538 for 2 persons (Mon - Fri)
$338 for 1 person, $558 for 2 persons (Sat, Sun & PH)


Thursday, 2 January 2014

Lanvin ♥ Sevva Afternoon Tea @ Sevva


Happy 2014 everyone! :D As one of my new year resolutions is writing more on this blog, I think it'd be great to start this year with a brand new blog entry. :) I know I have promised to write about my tea experience in the UK, but after having tea at Sevva a few days earlier, I really can't wait to share my juicy story about it! 




The story began in mid-December, when we Evil Girls planned to celebrate Christmas with one of the hottest tea sets in town - Lanvin ♥ Sevva Afternoon Tea. Mindful of Sevva's no-reservation policy for afternoon tea and Kong Girls' obsession with branded tea sets, we decided to arrive at Sevva 45 minutes before tea time (3:00pm) to queue for a table. 

To our astonishment, a long line was already formed by 2:05pm on the day! :0 We could not get a table and had to move to Cafe Causette for tea in the end. While the afternoon with EGs was as enjoyable as always, I had difficulty letting go of our failure. I guess I was just mad at myself for not arriving at Sevva early enough! :( 

At the end of the day, I resolved to revisit Sevva 2 weeks later for Lanvin afternoon tea. I told myself that I ought to make it, no matter what it might take! It sounded absolutely crazy, but even crazier were Hellish and his friend FK, who were willing to do that with me!!! :0 I wouldn't be surprised if we were caught and sent to Castle Peak Hospital, cos we were indeed nothing but insane!




So here you go, a chronicle of our epic *Lanvin afternoon tea adventure*

[14/12 night] Fixed the date and time of our operation: 28/12 1:45pm. No pain, no gain.  

[27/12 night] Studied reviews of Lanvin afternoon tea on Openrice and prepared myself psychologically for rude treatment by Sevva staff. I had been a victim myself before, but it just wouldn't hurt to be better prepared for the abuse that was bound to happen. 

[28/12 12:00pm] Called Sevva. Was told that queuing time for Lanvin afternoon tea formally began at 2:15pm (no wonder there were already so many people by 2:05pm last time). Decided that meeting at 1:45pm would be safe. 

[1:30pm] Arrived earlier than planned at Prince Building. There was already a neat queue for afternoon tea in the lift lobby! :0 Understood it was not the official queue but joined it anyway. We were like the 3rd party in the queue. 

[2:00pm] Lift lobby chock-full of people. Security guards of Prince Building and Sevva staff tried to arrange the queue to alleviate the congestion. 




[2:12pm] The girls queuing in front of us seemed to think it's time and entered the lift. Although we were certain that it was too early, we did not know what to do other than following them. :0

[2:13pm] Lift arrived at 25/F Sevva. A stone-faced hostess stood right outside the lift and blocked our way. With a watch in her hand, she mercilessly announced that it was not yet 2:15pm and we should go back to the lift lobby first. 

[2:14-2:15pm] Lift carried the bunch of aggrieved people back to lift lobby. I was calm, though. Conclusion: psychological preparation works. 

[2:15pm] Lift stopped at G/F. "Sevva" and "Door Close" buttons were pressed as soon as the lift door opened.

[2:16pm] Lift stopped unexpectedly at 2/F. Panic swept over everyone as queuing time had started. A guy entered the lift.

[A few seconds to 2:17pm] Lift stopped at 3/F. Panic intensified. A woman entered. 

[2:17pm] As the lift was racing towards 25/F, it became apparent that the guy and the woman were also heading for Sevva. They had jumped the queue by squeezing themselves into the lift from other floors! :0 Resentment filled the lift while the free riders tried to pretend that they didn't sense the murderous stares.




[2:18pm] Lift finally arrived at 25/F. Everyone made a beeline for the freshly formed queue just outside Sevva - yes, some people had already reached Sevva as we wasted time on our lift journey. We successfully got into the new queue before the free riders did. I felt relieved as I was certain that FK would kill them brutally if they joined the queue more quickly than we did.

[2:23pm] Table assignment begun by stone-faced hostess. We secured a table!

[2:28pm] Queue was cut. I reckoned that only half of the people who queued in the lift lobby were given a table in the end. :( 




[3:03pm] WE WERE SEATED AT LAST! But I was too exhausted, both mentally and physically, to feel happy...

It's the first time I got seated in the indoor lounge area. We saw groups of people being escorted to the adjacent dining area even after the queue for afternoon tea had long gone. Then we had an epiphany: Sevva reserves tables for their VIPs; only mortals like us have to battle for tables. Indeed, the supply of tables for VIPs was far greater than the demand - the dining area was only half-full even at the busiest time. I felt sorry, if not angry, for those who were turned away by Sevva after queuing for so long. 




There were 3 of us but there were only 2 sets of cutlery on the table. The waiter who brought us to the table was completely oblivious to that until we asked for one more set. Well, THIS IS SEVVA

As each Lanvin tea set was designed for 2 persons, we ordered 1 tea set and a mini burger platter to share. I had a pot of Petal Tea by Penelope Sach, and it turned out be the first thing that went right at Sevva that day. It was a beautiful blend of rose petals, lemongrass, and other organic herbs. It had a calming herbal scent, which was what I needed after the straining queuing process. 




I had seen pictures of the Lanvin tea set beforehand, but still I was struck by its lovely presentation when it arrived before my eyes. The eye-catching pop colours matched nicely to the charming illustrations by Lanvin's artistic director Alber Elbaz, which could be found all over the special placemat and afternoon tea menu.




1st tier (clockwise from right): snowflakes coconut chiffon sponge, vanilla & cocoa macaroon with French vanilla crème, strawberry & pistachio macaroon with chocolate crème




View of 1st tier from another angle. The Santa decoration was so adorable!




2nd tier (clockwise from top): signature minced chicken sandwich, petite finger rolls of French ham & brie cheese, foie gras mousse & onion marmalade on savoury waffle, truffle scrambled eggs on toasted Poilâne, baby potato stuffed with smoked salmon, eggs & crème fraîche, ratatouille on cucumber




3rd tier (clockwise from bottom): pineapple crème gâteau; raspberry, rose petal jam & crème anglaise éclair; chocolate coated éclair with candy sprinkles; banana & strawberry crème; ♥ candy lollipop; Mont Blanc coupe; flower power espresso cheesecake




A better view of the Mont Blanc coupe and flower power espresso cheesecake. See the pic below for a full view of the ♥ candy lollipop!




We were reluctant to admit it, but... well, the food was, ahem, really good. I could not name a top pick because I had several favourites! The pineapple crème gâteau was light as a dream, the chicken sandwich juicy, the foie gras mousse lush and savoury. Even the espresso cheesecake, which is sloppily made in most restaurants, was prepared with care. Unlike those heavy cheesecakes that can become really icky in your mouth, it was so soft and creamy that it made me see cheesecakes in a new light. The only weakness, if I must name one, was that the macaron shells were too hard. But we were completely distracted from the problem because the macarons were generously loaded with luscious chocolate/vanilla crème... who cared about the shells? :9




A pretty gift card was given to guests per order of tea set. It could be exchanged for one special gift at the nearby Lanvin store. The guys were not interested in the gift at all so we did not have the problem of gift allocation. But what if 2 girls have the tea set together and both want the gift? Wouldn't that make the tea experience end on a sour note?




But my worry was unwarranted. Cos the gift was just an ugly Hello Kitty Lanvin mirror that I doubt anyone would be interested in. I definitely like the paper bag with Alber Elbaz's cute sketches more lor...




If gifts are supposed to make guests happy and promote a brand's image, Lanvin has failed utterly in this respect. I'd rather they offered no gift rather than giving people such a hea gift. Perhaps the other gift option, a Lanvin USB storage drive, was more attractive... it probably was because it was no longer available by the time we got to the shop. 


THE VERDICT 
Ambience: A-

Service: U (U= unclassified. Does what they are doing, e.g. making their customers stand for more than an hour and being totally indifferent, rejecting potential customers when tables are actually available, etc., really qualify as SERVICE!?? In fact, there can only be one reason for Sevva not to take reservation for afternoon tea: to create in the lift lobby a super long queue, which visualizes their popularity and serves as their very best living advertisement! As I have remarked elsewhere, when a restaurant uses its customers as a publicity means, it's the customers who are actually providing SERVICE! How very shameless of Sevva to have charged 10% of our bill for service... I should have dialled 999 to report a case of robbery...)

Food: A- (food was fantastic, but still it's hard to justify the hefty price tag!)

Overall remarks: I have come up with the perfect slogan for Sevva: "Heavenly Food in Hell".  Being the antithesis of customer-centred business, they expect you to follow their rules if you want to play their game. Not happy? They can't care less. If you are really, really interested in giving Sevva a try, you may wish to read this post at least 5 times to enhance your mental toughness beforehand... but I will not be responsible for your post-traumatic stress symptoms after the visit. 

Special thanks to Hellish and FK: this tea adventure would not be possible without you!
FK: It's so nice of you to think about me when you read about the Lanvin afternoon tea! You are wonderful :)
Hellish: You are the most wonderful, of course! :P



INFO
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)
* Lanvin ♥ Sevva Afternoon Tea was priced at $680 for 2 persons and available in December 2013 only. 


Sunday, 25 August 2013

Afternoon Tea @ St Betty + macarons @ Pierre Hermé Paris-Hong Kong


My old pal Alice, a macaron lover, e-mailed me in April and asked where she could get decent maracons after reading my post about macaron afternoon tea in Macau. I am no macaron expert, but it doesn't take one to answer her question. All I needed to tell her was that Pierre Hermé would be opening his first store in HK in a month! If the macarons by The Picasso of Pastry fail to satisfy her, nothing will. ;P




When PH finally opened its door in IFC, we decided to get some macarons there and then catch up with each other over tea at St Betty. Technically speaking it's my first visit to St Betty, as it's called "Betty's Kitschen" and helmed by a different chef when I last visited it with Evil Girls. 

  


The brainchild of renowned restauranteur Alan Yau, St Betty is a casual European restaurant that is just as chic as its reputed elder siblings Yauatcha and Hakkasan. We found the earth-toned restaurant with full-length windows welcoming and bright. The cheerful waiting staff contributed to the vibrant ambience too. While service could have been slightly more attentive (e.g. the waiters should regularly refill our teapots with water, instead of doing so only when asked), I didn't feel like complaining because the waiters were all quite cute, wahahaha...  :P 




There's one thing that we really couldn't tand - the tablecloth!! When Alice and I were taking pictures of our teas and food, the knife-edge creases of the tablecloth seemed too atrocious to ignore. :( This was the tea that I ordered, BOP seasonal Dimbula from Sri Lanka. It was weaker than I thought and not too special. 




In this picture: CREASE and our tea set!




Top tier: patisserie selection




Middle tier: warm scones, homemade jam & clotted cream




Bottom tier (clockwise from top): crushed avocado, roasted red pepper & chilli jam sandwich; home smoked salmon, pickled cucumber & horseradish sandwich (but the cucumber could only be found on the beef sandwich...?); cheese puff; roast beef, charred red onion & mustard mayonnaise sandwich; tomato salsa, pesto & shaved Parmesan sandwich




Everything in the tea set appeared to be one size smaller than average. There's only 1 glass of yogurt mousse and 1 sandwich of each kind. Under normal circumstances I would start whining like a desperate housewife... not when I knew I would be having PH macarons afterwards though! :9

Reviews on St Betty's tea set are mixed; some people like it, others consider it only average. Alice and I found ourselves in the former group - we thought it's pretty decent. :) The pomegranate-accented creamy mousse on spoon, as well as the bubbly yogurt mousse topped with layers of fruits, suggested that the tea set was designed with style in mind. The 2 different kinds of mousse was solidly good, too, with tartness, sweetness and creaminess all in unison. 

As the rest of the tea set appeared to be quite typical, we did not expect any surprise ahead. That's why we were both wowed by the unassuming but punch-packed canelé. It embodied 3 different textures: the caramelized outermost layer was crispy, body of the crust chewy, and the centre tender. Just like Kinder Surprise, it satisfied 3 wishes at a time! ;) St Betty's scones proved to be different from their prototypical buttery counterparts as well. They were soft and airy, somewhat like English muffin. They seemed so light and innocent that even eating them with slathers of clotted cream sounded like a healthy thing to do! :9

The sandwiches were nice; my favourites were foreseeably salmon (salmon always tops my list of favourites if it's done right - who can say no to peachy slices of fatty goodness?) and piquant tomato salsa. I also liked the cheese puffs, which actually did not have much taste, because they were like a calming oasis for my sugar-overdosed taste buds. :)


THE VERDICT 
Ambience: B++

Service: B+

Food: B+

Overall remarks: If you have got bored of having tea in hotel restaurants, St Betty will be a good choice for a change. The portion is just right for fat-phobic Kong Girls, but do not go empty-stomach if you have normal appetite. :P 




After tea time, it was DESSERT TIME! :D 




Was disappointed that the IFC branch was only selling macaron box sets back then, so we could not pick and mix our favourite flavours. Worse still, none of the sets contained my favourite Ispahan macaron! :( How could they open a branch without even stocking up with their signature flavour!? 

All the grumbles, however, were forgotten as soon as we opened the beautiful box of poetry. The neatly arranged macarons were so colourful, their flavours so playful and creative (e.g. olive oil and vanilla flavour :9)! Ever since my first encounter with PH macarons in Paris, they have become the golden standard of macarons in my heart. So how did PH macarons in HK compare with those in Paris? The jewel-toned pastries were as luscious as I had remembered, but the shells were slightly less crunchy. Perhaps I was inevitably biased after learning that the macarons were flown in from Paris rather than freshly made? Or was my memory of Parisian PH macarons overly rosy? At any rate, as sure as eggs is eggs, PH have the BEST macarons in HK. Yes, their macarons are better than those by Kong Girls' favourite Ladurée, but... *shh* don't tell others about this ok? Let the queue stay at Ladurée so we can continue to enjoy stress-free macaron shopping at PH, hehe... ;)


INFO
St Betty (website)
Shop 2075, Podium Level Two, ifc mall, 8 Finance Street, Central, Hong Kong
Afternoon tea: 3:00pm - 6:00pm daily
$398 per 2 persons

Pierre Hermé Paris-Hong Kong (website)
Shop 1019C, ifc mall, 8 Finance Street, Central, Hong Kong
Opening hours: 10:00am - 9:00pm


Wednesday, 12 June 2013

Sodashi Afternoon Tea @ MO Bar, The Landmark Mandarin Oriental


When MO Bar started to offer branded tea sets a few years ago, I thought the whole idea was sheer gimmick. The accompanying gift aside, the tea set actually had little to do with the collaborating brand (which was why food in 2 different tea sets could be quite similar - see Chloe Inspired Afternoon Tea and Marc Jacobs Splash Afternoon Tea on my old Xanga blog). My impression however changed following MO Bar's recent production of branded tea sets that were completely unique and true to the spirit of their partnering brands, as exemplified by their wildly popular Jimmy Choo Afternoon Tea. Their culinary team's creativity and skills are formidable. I am now officially a convert who's constantly looking forward to MO Bar's new creations! ;)

MO Bar has just launched another branded afternoon tea with Sodashi, an Australian label that specializes in chemical-free skincare products. To ensure that the tea set will be just as wholesome as Sodashi's products, only natural ingredients are used in its preparation. Hmm, sounds like the perfect kind of detox programme for me! :P




When Hellish and I visited MO Bar last Sunday, we were excited to see that they had stupendously enhanced their weekend dessert buffet (included in the price of afternoon tea set), both in terms of quantity and quality. :9 It was actually hard to decide whether the buffet or the tea set was the main course because both were equally fabulous!




Scream, ladies: there were EIGHT different macaron flavours, including raspberry, chocolate, lemon, Earl Grey, pistachio... the macarons had shells that were marginally thicker than ideal (which always means the macarons by Pierre Hermé :P), but that didn't make them any less tasty. I liked every single flavour! If I have to name a favourite, it would be Earl Grey (orange one in this pic) - such elegant bergamot fragrance! ;) The crème caramel in mini jar was soft like a baby's cheek and very likeable too. 




Ice cream was perhaps the only thing that could rival macarons' unshakable popularity. There were creamy chestnut ice cream, zesty clementine sorbet, and refreshing pear sorbet, all tasted totally natural and fresh (there were even tiny bits of pear in the pear sorbet!). Just a spoonful of each is enough to fly you to cloud nine! ;) 




My other favourites: green tea panna cotta and strawberry trifle + cream puff




More sugary food before our healthy tea experience: apple and basil cocktail, raspberry eclairs, and cakes! There were so much food that we had only sampled half of the dessert buffet when our tea set arrived - 




Savouries (from left): heirloom tomato skewer with artichoke mousse and green olives (remineralization); pita wrapper with green bean, tandoori yogurt, cheese and peppermint (improve digestion); ginger macaroon with goat cheese cream (detox); Tasmanian salmon sour dough with lavender mayonnaise (relaxation); multigrain bread with lemongrass chicken and Thai basil salad (detox)




Sweets (from left): ginger and lemongrass mocktail with green apple (detox); organic chocolate, banana cupcake with virgin olive oil (increase alertness - improve mood); lavender panna cotta with rhubarb compote (relaxation); almond biscuit, strawberry mousse with rose petal (boost skin radiance, calming, hydrating); coated chocolate ganache biscuit with peppermint marshmallow (improve digestion)




Raisin and plain scones with clotted cream and preserves




Looking at the beautifully crafted tea set that was just as healthy as promised, I knew a nourishing spa journey for my stomach was ahead! There's no calorific chocolate cake, artificially coloured macaron, fatty meat, or anything that was half as evil. What showed up on our plates were mostly veggie- or fruit-based nibbles, each carrying a certain health benefit as denoted above. 

The use of fragrant herbs such as lemongrass and mint gave the food a Southeast Asian touch. Once again I was more impressed by the savouries than sweets. The tiny heirloom tomatoes on skewer bore a huge surprise. They were so much juicier and sweeter than those uniformly red tomatoes sold in supermarkets. There was an explosion of flavour once I bit into their bubble-thin skin! Another top pick, pita wrapper, was a little boat loaded with delicious treasures such as cheese, yogurt, and greens. There surely were lots of piquant flavours but they were skillfully harmonized. Our savoury spa was concluded with succulent, glitteringly fresh Tasmanian salmon, leaving us feeling pampered and satisfied. :) 

We rinsed our palate with a small glass of revitalizing ginger mocktail and moved on to the sweet section of our gastronomic journey. We had the bland slightly-too-healthy cupcake and fragrant lavender panna cotta that reminded me of Jurlique handcream, before our notable encounter with strawberry and rose mousse. There was only a tiny rose petal but I swore that the mousse tasted like a whole rose. I reckoned that everybody wanted to kiss me after I had savoured it, because my breath, seriously, smelled of rose! :P

The scones were buttery as always. We had to take some of them home because we didn't want to stuff ourselves with too much food at a time. I was glad that I had ordered peppermint tea, which soothed my stomach and rounded off its detox treatment nicely. 




There's a gift pack containing sample size body lotion and body polish by Sodashi for each guest to take home. The best part? Hellish obviously had no interest in  the gift so his became mine too, wahaha... :P 


THE VERDICT 
Ambience: A- (I think I am getting to like the place more and more... :P)

Service: A

Food: A

Overall remarks: I am not too sure if you will have better digestion or more radiant skin after having the all-natural tea set, but I can assure you that the good food and nice gift set will boost your mood effectively. ;) Do visit MO Bar for tea on weekends as you won't want to miss their wonderful dessert buffet spread!


INFO
MO Bar (website)
Lobby, 15 Queen's Road Central, The Landmark, Central, Hong Kong
* Sodashi Afternoon Tea: 3:00pm-5:30pm (Mon-Fri) and 2:30pm-6:00pm (Sat-Sun), available from now to 30 June 2013 
$260 per person (Mon - Fri), $280 per person (Sat - Sun)


Saturday, 27 April 2013

Ladies' & Gentlemen's Afternoon Tea Sets @ Tea Saloon by Another Fine Day


A review that everybody is waiting for!! According to the stats of this blog, quite a number of people bumped into my site over the past 2 weeks when they googled "tea saloon another fine day". I feel really sorry for these poor souls as they were likely disappointed to learn that my previous entry was about the original store of AFD... that's why I feel obliged to write up my review on its tea saloon ASAP despite being smothered with work this week!




The tea saloon is nestled in a placid residential area at Mid-Levels, where the only thing you can hear on a Sunday afternoon is the gentle tweets of birds. There's no signboard outside, but the pastel purple walls are eye-catching enough to arouse the curiosity of any passer-by. 




Fans of AFD will not be disappointed because the tea saloon is even more girly than the original store!




The only window seat, which is also my favourite corner




The quaint setting is strikingly similar to Antique, which in my opinion is one of the best afternoon tea places in HK. Both with pastel interior and faux fireplace, Tea Saloon and Antique are equally successful in creating the atmosphere of a quintessential English tearoom. :)   




A somewhat exotic corner at the back of the saloon




One thing I really like about the saloon is that it offers tea sets throughout the day, which gives you greater flexibility in planning your tea session. :) Antique does the same thing too, but Tea Saloon is more customer-friendly because they do not require you to prepay for the tea set (yes, this is what Antique does... weird huh). Another thoughtful touch is that the saloon offers 2 different tea sets catering to the differential needs of ladies and gentlemen. The ladies' tea set has more sweets, whereas the gentlemen's tea set has more savoury items. We found this a cute idea (even though sugar-hungry Hellish and savoury-toothed me obviously do not fit into the gender stereotypes :P) and ordered a set of each. 




There were a reasonable number of choices on the tea menu. I had Mdm. Grey, a yummy variation of Earl Grey. Roses and cornflowers were added to the classic tea to give it a feminine twist. :) Hellish's Rooibos with Vanilla proved to be another decent choice. The rooibos base had no weird taste of straw (which is rather common in rooibos), and the scent of vanilla was so powerful that it overshadowed the aroma of Mdm. Grey - for a moment I thought I was given Hellish's order instead of Mdm. Grey because all I could smell from my cup was vanilla!




Ladies' Afternoon Tea Set & Gentlemen's Afternoon Tea Set, served on a tea stand matched to the cutlery (which had an interesting but impractical design - the leaves made it so difficult to hold the fork and knife...)! 




Top tier (clockwise from top): lemon meringue tart, strawberry & rose macaroon, mango mousse cake, chocolate truffle cake

(Red = in Ladies' Afternoon Tea Set only, blue = in Gentlemen's Afternoon Tea Set only, purple = in both tea sets)




Middle tier: (clockwise from top): Earl Grey tea cupcake, crab rillette, duo filo tartlets - egg mayo with smoked salmon & creamy forest mushroom, mini popover filled with black truffle cream cheese




Middle tier from another angle




Bottom tier (clockwise from top): proscuitto & manchego cream cheese croissant, mini chicken burger with oolong tea sauce, mini house salad with special plum tea citrus dressing, oolong tea jelly panna cotta pot, signature rose scone with clotted cream & homemade rose petal strawberry jam




A better view of the scones




Garnished with violets and green herbs, the pretty tea sets echoed the arrival of spring. :) In terms of sweets, there were the usual suspects such as chocolate truffle cake, mango cake, cupcake etc. Not too exciting, but predictably good in general. The uber-dense chocolate cake hit all the right notes and beat the delicate lemony meringue tart by a nose. :P The macaron would need some improvement - while I liked the sweet rose filling, the shells were soft and lacked crunchiness. The real problem, however, lay in the scones. The scone I had at AFD main store was a bit hard, and what we had this time was even harder and drier. :( It tasted like the moistureless banana walnut cake that my former Filipino maid used to bake... :0 Thankfully the perfumy rose jam could to some extent made up for the scone's deficiency.  

As expected, I was more interested in the savouries. I was titillated by the sight of my favourite mushroom filo tartlet, and this time it had even got an eggy twin! :9 As a bona fide lover of rich, fattening cheese, I was appeased by the Manchego cheese croissant (despite the croissant being slightly dry) and truffle cream cheese (read: divine) popover. There's even crab rillette, something which I had never expected to see on a tea stand! Did you know how rillette is made? With fat - a lot of fat, be it butter or cheese!! :9 It's only seasoned lightly, so that the subtle sweetness of crab was preserved. I couldn't believe that there were only 3 tiny pieces of toast to go with it. We almost wanted to lick the little jar after scooping out the last bit of rillette... :P




Apart from tea sets, the tea saloon serves lunch every day and also a special brunch set on weekends. There are endless options for brunch in HK nowadays, but Tea Saloon is probably the only place that you get to enjoy the whole lazy affair on a tiered cake stand. ;)

(Latest update @27.4.2013 16:54: Antique has just announced that they are going to launch something called "brunch tiers" in June!!! I think I smell rivalry... :P)



THE VERDICT 
Ambience: A 

Service: A-

Food: B++

Overall remarks: Believe it or not: tea Saloon by AFD is going to be the It tea place of 2013. Just as what I have said to my friend: book a table before it gets busy, because it will! Another reason to visit it this month is that, a 15% discount will be offered to all customers as the soft opening promotion! ;)


INFO
Tea Saloon by Another Fine Day (FB page of Tea Saloon / FB page of AFD Main Store
G/F, 80-82 Peel Street, Mid-Levels, Hong Kong
All-day tea:  12:00pm-7:00pm (Tue - Fri), 10:30am-7:00pm (Sat-Sun)
$288 for 1 person, $498 for 2 persons