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)

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! ;)

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

Wednesday 17 April 2013

Finally! I've got my Jimmy Choo Afternoon Tea gift!

Mystery unveiled: the complimentary gift included in Jimmy Choo Afternoon Tea is... a JIMMY CHOO NOTEBOOK! 

It's a pretty notebook (Did the cover look familiar? It shares the same pattern with the chocolate piece of tri-coloured shooter in the tea set!), but... I can't help wondering if this is the REAL gift. 

For the very first thing, MO Bar say a "gift set" is included in the price of afternoon tea, but a single notebook doesn't sound like a set to me. Second, based on my experience, the gifts in MO Bar's crossover tea sets have always been very substantial. For example, for their Marc Jacobs Splash Afternoon Tea in 2010, the gift was a hat box containing Marc Jacobs discount coupon for fragrances, as well as sample-size Marc Jacobs fragrances and body cream. Then for their Chloe-Inspired Afternoon Tea in the same year, I got a gift box generously packed with discount coupon for Chloe fragrance, Chloe EDP miniature, plus samples of Chloe perfumed bath cream, body cream scrub and body cream!! Not to mention the wonderful gift pack included in their Apivita Afternoon Tea (I may write about it later) last year - there were a whole box of beauty masks, a hand cream, plus a $500 spa certificate! 

Do you now understand my suspicion? I wonder if the Jimmy Choo notebook is only a consolation gift for walk-in guests... I believe that guests with reservation receive something more amazing!

Anyway, I am not a greedy person, and I am pleased that MO Bar have made efforts to source gifts for walk-in guests. I am just curious about what the real Jimmy Choo special gift is. Let me know if you are one of those lucky ones who got that... or simply laugh at my paranoia if my hunch is wrong! ;P

Monday 15 April 2013

Jimmy Choo Afternoon Tea @ MO Bar, The Landmark Mandarin Oriental

J.I.M.M.Y.C.H.O.O.!!!!!! Woohoooo! 

That's how my girl friends reacted when I told them that I would be having Jimmy Choo Afternoon Tea at MO Bar. If you have never heard of Jimmy Choo, I am 100% positive that you are a guy. To say Jimmy Choo is a shoemaker would be an understatement; it should be described as a dream maker because they design killer heels that every woman dreams of! I was excited about the collaboration between MO Bar and Jimmy Choo as well, though the excitement definitely came more from the tea set than the brand name - that's the difference between a foodie and a fashionista.  :P

Women are known to be crazy about Jimmy Choo, but I didn't know how crazy they could be until 2 months ago. Back in February, I read from The Landmark MO's website that MO Bar would be offering Jimmy Choo Afternoon Tea in April. I thought it would be wonderful to have a shoe themed tea set with Wicked, who had the gappest experience with shoes in human history. Since I was unbelievably busy in Feb, and I thought there were still 2 months to go, I decided to book a table later. I was shocked that when I called MO Bar in early March, they told me that the restaurant was FULLY BOOKED during the period of Jimmy Choo Afternoon Tea. :0 That's the power of Jimmy Choo!!! Lesson learnt. 

I heard about the tea set way before most people did, yet I can't get a table!? There's no way I would accept this upsetting truth!!! I told myself that I ought to try this tea set on Ching Ming Festival (well, just because it's a public holiday), no matter what! Although Wicked was not available that day, I insisted to go - with Hellish instead! 

Wicked should feel glad that she did not come with me, cos Hellish and I had waited for 2 bloody hours before we got seated!!! :( Under normal circumstances I would have given up (patience is not my strong suit, and I strongly believe in time = money), but not when I had travelled all the way from Wo Hop Shek to Central for this tea set! I could feel Hellish's homicidal rage after we had waited for an hour.... fortunately, a table became available just before any blood was shed. Sorry, Hellish my dear, I promise that it won't happen again! 

Probably because the waiter knew we had waited for a long time, we were served our teas immediately after we had placed the order. I had an ethereal Earl Grey by Jing Tea. It had a heady perfume of bergamot, but what really impressed me was its smooth, full-bodied black tea base. It's the best Earl Grey I've tasted! Hellish ordered a pot of jasmine tea which was also by Jing Tea. I took a sip and I thought I had swallowed jasmine flowers because the taste of jasmine was so pungent! :0 Too floral for my liking. 

MO Bar's tea set includes a cake buffet on weekdays and dessert buffet on weekends. I always went to MO Bar on weekends so it's my first encounter with the cake buffet. I didn't try any of the dry-looking pound cakes though. I wish they could introduce a greater variety of cakes into the buffet. 

The tea set that drives every woman crazy! 

Pastries (from left): milk chocolate high heels; pink chupa macaroon with passion fruit and mango cream; litchi, rose & raspberry mousse & white chocolate bag; green tea mousse, strawberry jelly & yuzu mousse shooter

Savouries (from left): black bun with cooked ham mousse served with gold baguette crystals and savora mustard; whole wheat sandwich with smoked salmon, cream cheese & cucumber, cream cheese coloured pyramid studs; foie gras high heels in cherry dip on crispy brioche bread; quiche with mushrooms & spinach seasoned with pesto

Raisin & plain scones served with clotted cream, strawberry preserve and orange marmalade (I was happy that they finally did away with ginger scones!)

The tea set was glamorous, tempting, and colourful. To put it simply, it's Jimmy Choo style! :j We began with the tri-coloured shooter. The top layer was mango, the middle green tea, and the bottom strawberry. While each layer was delicious in its own right, I liked it best when I had a bit of every layer at the same time - it was a divine symphony of sweetness, creaminess and fruitiness. The sweet-scented mousse hidden "inside" the chocolate handbag was also a jewel. The much-anticipated chocolate high heel, was regrettably an anti-climax. It's just a huge chunk of cloyingly sweet chocolate, which in my opinion should only be enjoyed by the eyes. 

The savouries were all of pretty high standard. Relatively speaking, the black bun with gold stripes was the weakest of all - perhaps using diced ham instead of ham mousse could give the bun a bit more texture. We loved the mushroom quiche, whose rich and smoky aroma got our attention even when we were busy tasting the pastries. The eye-catching salmon sandwich with rainbow-colour cheesy studs was pleasing, yet we decided that foie gras high heel was the real winner. The foie gras was so silky and luscious... oh boy, wasn't that sexy!

What about the mini scones? To call them "buttery scones" would be a misnomer... they should be described as "scone-shape butter" because they tasted like pure butter! My only complaint was that they were too fragile (was that related to the high butter content?), so it was difficult to put jam and cream on the scones without making them crumble. :P

Every guest who ordered the tea set is entitled to a special Jimmy Choo gift... but please note that this only applies to guests with a reservation. As Jimmy Choo has given only a fixed number of gifts to MO Bar, walk-in guests can only receive the complimentary gift when there are leftovers (which happens when those with a reservation do not turn up or cancel the reservation). MO Bar will contact walk-in guests later on if there are any gifts left. :( 

I was slightly disappointed when the apologetic waitress told me that, but it wasn't really a problem because I came for the tea set rather than Jimmy Choo. I didn't expect to receive the gift at all as the tea set was crazily popular, but MO Bar called me this afternoon and told me that they had got the gifts for me! :D What a nice surprise! Would definitely post a picture of the gift here as soon as I get it this week. Thanks MO Bar!

Ambience: B++ (Don't mean to be anal, but the place is a bit too dark for afternoon tea :P)

Service: A+ (They have tried so hard to secure gifts for walk-in guests! I am touched!)

Food: A-

Overall remarks: MO Bar has made continuous improvement in their crossover tea sets over the years. Being a pioneer in this area, they know that a crossover tea set means more than food with brand logo and free gift - rather, it is about incorporating the spirit of the brand into a tea set (take a look at Cafe Gray Deluxe's latest crossover tea set with Parisian perfumer Diptyque, which will be on offer in May, and you'll know the difference) while at the same time NOT forgetting about the quality of food! :) Their Jimmy Choo tea set has cemented their leading position in creating fashion tea. I am sure that MO Bar will continue to enjoy its deserved popularity among tea lovers and fashionistas in the years to come! 

If you would like to try Jimmy Choo Afternoon Tea as a walk-in guest, please arrive at MO Bar at least 30 minutes before teatime! Or you can wait for 2 hours just like I did.... the choice is yours. Good luck!

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

Thursday 4 April 2013

Fine Afternoon Set @ Another Fine Day

*Update: this post is about the main store of Another Fine Day. If you are looking for the review on Tea Saloon by Another Fine Day, please click here. :)

I told myself that I would write a review of Another Fine Day when I received this letter. The letter eventually reached my home in September 2012, but as you can see, I am only writing the review NOW. Sigh... 

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Back in early 2012, Terrible suggested we have tea at Another Fine Day. Having read about this little store in various magazines before, I hesitated to agree as I wasn't sure if I would like it. But for the sake of my readers (I can hear Hellish yelling "Come on, nobody reads your blog!! Your blog gets traffic only because I refresh the site every day!"), I thought I ought to review every tea place as far as I could. So in the end, I visited the place with Terrible and Wicked. 

We were greeted by the warm and buttery aroma of scones as soon as we stepped inside. The place was so feminine and cozy that it reminded me of a Victorian boudoir. It's the dream room of every girl (at the same time it's the kind of place which guys would like to avoid) - I wish I could spend a whole day playing Candy Crush reading on one of the sofas!

The shopping corner is no less beautiful. Here you can find teaware, stationery, toys, books, etc., all consistent with the store's girly and elegant theme. 

Bears and Little Red Riding Hood!

While everything is as dreamy as it can be, Another Fine Day is not a place designed for tea. It is intended to be, as I have read somewhere, a retreat for people in this high-octane city to pamper their spiritual selves. Here you will find "playshops" on tarot, crystal, vision board... :0 and also monthly "pet meditation sessions". :0 :0 :0 Hmm... better stop right here before I turn this post into a scientific critique. 

Afternoon tea is indeed served at Another Fine Day but it is a side dish rather than the main course. The store hosts a writing-to-yourself activity, which includes this exquisite letter set and a complimentary tea set in the price. 

Very pretty right? But sorry, the letter set means only the writing paper and envelope... box NOT included so you can't take it away. :( 

The complimentary tea set is nanoscopic. Shown here is the tea set for THREE <-- this is not a typo! Guess you now understand my earlier hesitation... but since I was totally prepared for this, I actually found the portion slightly bigger than I thought!

Scone with rose jam and cream: Ok but tasted a bit too floury, and it would be better if there's more jam!

Vanilla cupcake: I am hardly a fan of cupcake but this cute little cake was heaven! It was unexpectedly spongy, and instead of being sickly sweet it was done just right. :9 

Forest mushroom tart: Delish! Juicy mushrooms with a refined flavour. I appreciated that they used crispy filo instead of butter tart crust - look at the beautiful paper-thin layers! :)

Each tea set came with a pot of Fortnum and Mason tea. I picked Green Tea with Elderflower from the small selection and it turned out to be a great choice. I wasn't familiar with the scent of elderflower but the tea definitely had a flowery bouquet. There was also a soft undercurrent of honey in the cup. I noticed that Another Fine Day was selling F&M tea tins at over $200 each... I told myself that when I went to UK next time, I would definitely buy a few tins because each cost less than $100 there!

Let's not forget the main dish - letter-writing! The idea is to write yourself a "love letter", appreciating your own strengths and showing gratitude to yourself. The letter will then be mailed to you on a random day within the year. How sweet it sounds. However, the boyish me had absolutely no interest in such romantic activity... so rather than writing a love letter to myself, I wrote a review of the tea experience in the letter. I know, I am such a hopeless realist. 

Now you understand why I can only write this post after receiving the letter, haha... :P


Afternoon Tea
Ambience: A+ 

Service: A-

Food: A--

Remarks: The whole place is magic
The tea set is truly small, but I won't complain because it's meant to be an adjunct AND it's free! 

Value-for-money: D 
(The letter-writing + tea experience cost $198 per person. Since when has loving myself become so expensive!?? I guess I would be much more satisfied if the letter box could be taken home!)

Overall Remarks
Another Fine Day is a beautiful store and I am genuinely in love with the ambience. However, it's not a place I would go for tea. Nor would I recommend the letter-writing experience - you can do the same thing at your own home with your favourite writing set, so why should you pay so much for it? I was hoping that Another Fine Day would offer proper tea set some day instead of using the space for all those "new age workshops", and guess what, my dream has finally come true!! They have recently expanded and opened a tea saloon at another location, which I am going to visit very soon. I wish the new place would be just as lovely. Will keep you all posted! ;)

Another Fine Day (website / Facebook page)
G/F, 13A Prince's Terrace, Mid-Levels, Hong Kong
Opening hours: 11:30am - 8:00pm (Tue - Sun)