All the best things come from Scandinavia right? ABBA, Robyn, Lego, Ikea, H&M, The Moomins, Nordic Noir… and that’s just the tip of the Icelandic iceberg.
Well, now let’s add afternoon tea to the list too – as the afternoon tea at FINDS, Hong Kong’s only Scandinavian restaurant, has long been one of my favourites in town. It gets the balance between sweets and savouries pretty spot on and thanks to its Nordic inclinations, usually features a few more interesting and unusual items as opposed to yet another smoked salmon sandwich. Factor in a cute spring makeover via their GreenGate afternoon tea collaboration and it’s a definite must-visit… especially if you love pretty things as much as me!
Think of GreenGate as Denmark’s answer to Cath Kidston – namely, highly photogenic tableware adorned with pretty pastels and floral patterns galore. FINDS, located on the first floor of Tsim Sha Tsui boutique hotel The Luxe Manor, is a cushy afternoon tea location anyway (although it lacks a bit of atmosphere on quiet weekday afternoons); its interior, all curvy natural wood surfaces and bright pops of lime green, is inviting, relaxing and comfortable – so the coo-worthy crockery really is the Swedish lingonberry on top!
FINDS’ Scandic slant is most apparent in the savouries section of their afternoon tea – these definitely aren’t your standard smoked salmon and egg mayonnaise sarnies! The salmon “pastrami” is a FINDS signature and it pairs perfectly with a small dollop of smooth avocado crème; I loved the extra bite in the texture of the cured salmon, whilst a dusting of toasted peppercorns and fennel gives it a well-rounded, woody taste.
My other favourite on this occasion was the pork and pistachio pâté on a maltbread crisp – meaty but with a nutty sweetness and a great rustic texture. The parsnip and morel mushroom pastry tastes almost exactly as you’d expect it to – flaky pastry, creamy moreish filling… exactly the kind of canapé you’d gobble up several of at a cocktail party. Only the buckwheat blini with shrimp and smoked roe was slightly disappointing, as I found the blini’s texture too mushy.
The sweets are also uniformly delicious. I loved the fresh raspberries with yoghurt panna cotta and white chocolate crumble; the mellow tang from the yoghurt is just lovely and, combined with chunks of buttery crumble and bursts of tangy berries, results in a little shot glass of happiness. There’s a Scandi twist to the mini éclair too (it’s made with lingonberry jam) although honestly, it tasted like a normal light and creamy éclair to me – albeit a perfectly pleasant one!
I have a habit of saving what I think will be my favourite afternoon tea pastry until last; this time the honour fell to the mint dark chocolate cake with crushed Marianne candy (a famous Finnish peppermint chocolate). The chocolate was gooey rich velvety perfection and the cooling crush of the mint candy was a nice touch – and this comes from someone who absolutely loathes After Eights!
There are some adorable little eggcups filled with Martini mousse (vodka, cherry syrup and cream), which is then toasted tableside for a caramelised top. These looked absolutely darling (yes I am from a 1920s period drama) but also way too sweet and, given that I hate the taste of alcohol in desserts as well, I wrote them off immediately. But I shouldn’t have. They were soft clouds of sweet fluffy air, how I’d imagine fairies would taste, if that thought didn’t sound totally barbaric.
There’s room for a couple of dessert classics too; whilst FINDS’ mini green apple Danish pastry won’t win any awards for being exciting, it was utterly drop-dead delicious and both Mirander and I were licking our fingers to catch every last flake of this marvellous sticky-sweet confection.
And finally fear not, scones watchers… your buttery little beasties are here, except you don’t have any choice but the raisin variety. These were the least memorable item for me (although they do come with a proper cream at least); the flavour was nice enough but they were a bit hard for our liking.
I also have to mention GreenGate’s teacups because they’re massive, terribly cute and feel like they’re straight out of Alice In Wonderland’s tea party. FINDS has a nice selection of organic teas with standards like Earl Grey and Darjeeling amongst fruitier choices like ginger lemongrass and mango peach; if I was a coffee drinker, I’d probably be tempted by their toffee nut, gingerbread, chestnut and lavender coffees too.
I’ve now had the FINDS afternoon tea on about five different occasions and every time, it’s always had way more hits than misses. It’s also really good value (currently $308 for two on weekdays, $328 on weekends) and I just love that it’s so different and distinctive compared with all the other tea sets in Hong Kong. The items do lean towards the daintier side, but because they’re usually all delicious and there are plenty of them (sweets and savouries), I think it’s genuinely one of the most satisfying afternoon teas in town. I polished off the whole lot quite happily, suffering from neither staggering food coma, sugar high or starvation pangs – making this the perfect excuse to enjoy a long lie-in and claim this afternoon tea as a late lunch. Go on. It’s a Swedish tradition… maybe…
FINDS x GreenGate Afternoon Tea costs $308 for two on weekdays or $328 on weekends and public holidays.
FINDS, 1/F, The Luxe Manor, 39 Kimberley Road, Tsim Sha Tsui, Hong Kong, +852 2522 9318
Note: this meal was unexpectedly complimentary (we booked it under the impression we were paying and it was only until we asked for the bill that we realised The Luxe Manor’s PR had surprised us!), although I’ve enjoyed many of FINDS’ afternoon tea sets before and since out of my own pocket.