Saturday 29 June 2013

Diptyque Moheli Afternoon Tea @ Cafe Gray Deluxe Hong Kong, The Upper House

Had a pretty depressing week and was not in the mood of writing. :( 

But as I was organizing the pictures of my first afternoon tea with Baby Valerie, I found myself smiling and feeling better. Babies are amazing, aren't they? Their every single move is enough to make your heart melt... as long as you are only responsible for playing with them instead of tending to them. :P

(Photo courtesy: Vivian)

We girls were having Diptyque Moheli Afternoon Tea at Cafe Gray Deluxe and were so excited that Ly had brought Baby Valerie along! We took pictures with her and forced Ly to promise that Valerie's very first tea-with-aunties姐姐-pix would appear in Valerie's wedding slideshow in the future, haha... 

Back to business - our Diptyque afternoon tea!

Top tier: curry poached chicken salad tartlet & ginger pear chutney, blackcurrant scones

Middle tier (from left): smoked salmon on bagel toast with salmon caviar & lime cream cheese; egg salad and cucumber finger sandwich; salami and Gruyère cheese pretzel bun with whole grain mustard; roast beef sandwich with pomegranate glaze, pickled red onion, and goat cheese

Middle tier from another angle

Bottom tier (from left): Tonga bean ganache and caramel, mini cinnamon roll with golden raisin, jasmine and rose bavarois on graham crust, coffee macarons; apricot jam linzer, almond milk rice pudding and marinated citrus

A better view of the rice pudding and apricot jam linzer 

(Photo courtesy: Vivian)

How was the food? I'd say that it's generally okay but Baby Valerie was far more interesting than it lor (I did spend more time playing with Valerie than eating!). :P While one normally expects fancy pastries and savouries with layers of flavours in a 5-star hotel, our supposedly Diptyque-inspired tea set was, sorry to say, unimaginative and straightforward. It was disappointing that the tea set had no connection to Diptyque at all... the brand was not even mentioned in the tea set menu! 

The food was so average that there wasn't much worth writing about. There's one thing I always like about Cafe Gray's tea set though, which is the scones! They are big and chunky so you can put lots of jam, cream and honey (honey is such a lovely touch :j) on them. I lurrrrve the sugar granules atop which give the scones an extra bit of crunchiness. There were only a few things that had really gone wrong, such as the stale macaron and the puddle of weird flavours that was named "milk pudding". 

Tea was a nightmare. I appreciate the fact that Cafe Gray have their own tea blends, but they should really hire a better tea master. Last time I had their signature Cafe Gray Tea, which contained roselle and was horribly tart. This time I knew better - I thought - and ordered Flower Blend. Given how the description was worded, I thought there were 2 choices of flower blends, namely either rose petal tea or chamomile and mint tea. I told the waitress that I wanted the rose tea, but in the end I was given a pot of tea which tasted like anything but rose. It was bitter and very herbal, much like Chinese medicinal herbal tea... :0 A waitress confirmed that it was indeed my order, and she added that it was not a pure rose tea. So perhaps Flower Blend was actually a BLEND of rose, chamomile and mint!?? My advice: stick to the classics...  

When we asked for the bill, we were given 3 vouchers for Diptyque Moheli gift set. THREE!? There were 5 of us! We then found out from another waitress that because we ordered 2 x tea set for two persons and 1 x tea set for 1 person, there would only be 3 vouchers. Jesus Christ! Could they not be so miserly? They should have stated clearly in the menu that vouchers are issued according to the number of tea sets instead of number of persons. Not wanting to start a fight for gifts among ourselves, we changed our orders to 5 x tea set for 1 person (the difference was that we had to pay a bit more because tea set for 1 person was $240 while tea set for 2 persons was $420, i.e. $210 per head). The waitress agreed with the arrangement but then she recalculated the bill wrongly... so much hassle before we eventually got our gift - 2 small samples of Eau Moheli eau de toilette - at Diptyque's Pacific Place store!

Ambience: B+

Service: B- (misleading beverage menu, mean voucher policy, wrong bill... enough said)

Food: B- (average food, awful tea)

Overall remarks: Cafe Gray is an acceptable tea place if you know what to expect (and which tea to order). Go for MO Bar (see here or here) if you want a truly amazing branded tea experience! 

The Moheli tea set was hardly impressive, but the afternoon was just as enjoyable with my dear friends and Baby Valerie.  ;) Thanks for organizing, Vivian! 

Cafe Gray Deluxe Hong Kong (website)
Level 49, The Upper House, Pacific Place, 88 Queensway, Hong Kong
Afternoon tea: 3:30pm-5:00pm daily
* Diptyque Moheli Afternoon Tea is served until 30 June 2013. 
$240 per person, $420 per 2 persons

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 

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!

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)