Monday 5 May 2014

"Brighten Up Your Day" Afternoon Tea Inspired by Cath Kidston and Penney Pang @ Feast (Food by EAST), EAST Hong Kong: Part II

Three days after having the Cath Kidston tea set, I visited Feast again - this time with Evil Girls - for the Cath Kidston weekend tea buffet. I am now qualified to call myself a Cath Kidston afternoon tea expert! ;P

To be honest I was not too excited about the buffet... those who have read my review on the Cath Kidston tea set should have no problem understanding my lack of enthusiasm. Besides, I always prefer tea set to tea buffet. In my opinion, the former represents the authentic afternoon tea experience, whereas the latter is simply what hotels invented to make easy money between lunch and dinner hours. I did look forward to meeting my dear Evil Girls after a long, hectic month though!

The buffet started with a surprise: a tea set was included in the price! The set was similar to what I had last time, except the scones and sandwiches were replaced by a tier of cookies, cream puffs and fruit tarts. While these were far from being memorable, I certainly liked them better than the oily scones and dry sandwiches. 

The buffet was predictably limited in terms of variety. They clearly had compromised quality as they tried to keep the price competitive. The most attractive item at the embarrassingly small salad bar was, guess what, lettuce! :0 Dry sandwiches that appeared in the weekday tea set could be found next to the salad bar. 

At the savoury station, there were a number of dull-looking pastries which I didn't bother to try. The adjacent hot food station offered wanton soup noodles and dim sum. I understand that it's very common for local restaurants to serve Cantonese food in tea buffet, but aren't noodles and dim sum a bit outlandish in a Cath Kidston themed buffet?  

Here's the "interactive(?) live crepe and waffle station", where you can order crepe with your choice of filling. Terrible ordered a crepe with various kinds of fruits, which sounded delicious but was a total disaster. The fact that she could not even finish the crepe said it all.

Ice cream was okay, but it's maddening that they rationed it in tiny cones! A range of toppings was available, which was pointless because I wasn't able to put more than 6 chocolate pearls onto the little scoop of ice cream... :(

Grilled ham and cheese panini turned out to be the best thing about the buffet... anything with melted cheese will never go wrong, after all. I won't recommend it to any health-conscious person though - there's so much butter in the bread that it's literally dripping with oil after grilling. :0  

Ambience: B

Service: B+ (We did not get any free gift this time because the gift was out of stock. Not a problem for me because I had already got the gifts when I tried the tea set. What displeased me was that I actually booked the buffet A LOT EARLIER than the tea set, only the buffet was scheduled after the tea set... instead of giving out gifts on a first-come, first-served basis, wouldn't doing it on a first-book, first-served basis be fairer??)

Food: C-- (Let's face it, the food isn't going to brighten up your day)

Overall remarks: What will you choose: spending ~$125 on bad food, as in the case of Cath Kidston tea set, or spending ~$220 to get a wider selection of bad food, as in the case of Cath Kidston buffet? 

Me? I'd rather spend £20 (~$260) on a Cath Kidston cake stand.

Feast (Food by EAST) (website)
1/F, EAST Hong Kong, 29 Taikoo Shing Road, Island East, Hong Kong
Cath Kidston tea buffet: 3:00-5:30pm (Sat, Sun and PHs), $195 per person
* Cath Kidston afternoon tea available from now to May 18 2014. 
** Tea set with Cath Kidston theme available on weekdays. Click here for the review.

Thursday 1 May 2014

"Brighten Up Your Day" Afternoon Tea Inspired by Cath Kidston and Penney Pang @ Feast (Food by EAST), EAST Hong Kong: Part I

I suspect that something is very wrong about the feng shui of my home. Not that I believe in feng shui - I just can't think of a better reason to explain why both Hellish and I have been working non-stop since Year of the Horse. There were countless evenings in which we sat on the couch in a vegetative state and drifted off to sleep before we had even showered. :( I hope the rest of the year isn't going to be like this... 

We were thankful that things had got slightly better before Easter, even though we knew perfectly that such improvement would not last. Before being swallowed by the next wave of projects and cases, we took early leave one afternoon and travelled all the way to Taikoo to try the Cath Kidston tea set! 

To say the Cath Kidston afternoon tea is the hottest tea set in town is hardly an overstatement. We were shocked to find a full house at 4 o'clock on a weekday - a proof of Cath Kidston's solid fan base in HK! 


Indisputably, the biggest draw of the tea set is the cheerful Cath Kidston tea stand! The feminine rose motif is such a lovely match to the elegant image of traditional afternoon tea. I believe that merely taking pictures with the tea set is enough to make most girls happy! 

Top tier: fruit scones with clotted cream and strawberry jam 

Middle tier (clockwise from top): Cath Kidston inspired pastries by Penney Pang - Westbourne Rose Earl Grey cupcake, Field Rose cream-filled macaroon, Safari orange blossom chocolate bonbon

Bottom tier (clockwise from top): tea-smoked salmon, horseradish and cucumber sandwich; duck egg mayonnaise and watercress sandwich; asparagus wrapped in Gorgonzola and cured English ham; Quiche Lorraine, English honey-glazed ham and mustard sandwich; sun-blushed tomato palmier

After tasting the food, I would like to amend what I said above as follows: taking picture of the tea set without eating the food will actually make you happier, because the food quality is bound to disappoint. The scone was overly floury, and you can tell how oily it was when it's shinier than the face of a teenage boy. It was heavy despite its small size, especially when eaten with the clumpy clotted cream. :0 Pastries designed by local cake designer Penney Pang looked really cute but that's pretty much it. The chocolate bon bon was way too sweet and cloying, and instead of tasting Earl Grey in the cupcake as promised, I could only taste banana(!?). The rose-perfumed macaroon was the only thing that I would like to have more. Apparently, taste is not a cake designer's strength or priority. The savouries did not fare any better - sandwiches were dry, English cured ham was saltier than Jinhua ham... I'll stop here as I don't want to sound too critical. After all, it is ridiculous to demand for quality when you are paying only ~$125 (service charge included) per head for a tea set!

Tea was similarly below standard. Instead of brewing the tea for you, they only give you a tea bag plus a pot of water, and you are supposed to do the rest by yourself. The Earl Grey I had was weak and I could barely find a trace of bergamot in it. For a more intense flavour, you have the option of asking for an extra tea bag (just like what Ms. Susie Wong did), or using less water (the Cath Kidston cup is much bigger than regular tea cup) for brewing if you don't want to pay more. ;)

Any Cath Kidston fan who's not happy with the food will find consolation in the free gifts: a small tube of ultra-fragrant rose hand cream and a discount coupon to be used in Cath Kidston CWB store per order of tea set. The bad news it that the gifts are currently OUT OF STOCK, because the hotel did not expect the afternoon tea to be such a sensation and therefore greatly underestimated the number of gifts they needed. :0

Ambience: B (Tables were rather close to one another, probably because the restaurant wanted to squeeze in more customers)

Service: A- (Staff were courteous and helpful even though they were obviously very busy. I didn't expect to make my own tea in a hotel restaurant though)

Food: C-

Overall remarks: You have to admit that paying $125 and getting a full stomach + hand cream + coupon is quite a good deal. But now that the free gifts are no longer available, I don't think it's worth the trouble to visit remote Taikoo only to get stuffed by underwhelming food...

Feast (Food by EAST) (website)
1/F, EAST Hong Kong, 29 Taikoo Shing Road, Island East, Hong Kong
Cath Kidston tea set: 3:00-5:00pm (Mon-Fri), $228 per 2 persons (additional person $150)
* Cath Kidston afternoon tea available from now to May 18 2014. 
** Tea buffet with Cath Kidston theme available on weekends. Click here for its review! :)