*UPDATE: The Continental has completely changed all its menus including afternoon tea, which is now substantially smaller and nowhere near as good. Sad times.*
There’s no denying that you’re never short of a dozen or twenty hot new restaurant openings in Hong Kong. However, hot new restaurants that you want to come back to time and time again? That’s a bit trickier.
For that reason, one of my favourite recent openings – and recent in Rach speak means sometime in the past year – is The Continental at Pacific Place in Admiralty. It serves unfussy, unpretentious, British-European cuisine made with classic flavours, quality ingredients and uniformly excellent cooking. The whole place has the seamless confidence of an old-school hotel restaurant… except without actually being in a hotel (it is under Swire though, who own The Upper House and EAST hotels – then again, they’re also responsible for bottling Coca-Cola in Hong Kong so it takes all sorts). It’s consistent, reliable and most importantly, very very good.
As such, I’ve been there for lunch, brunch, dinner and drinks – but me being me, it’s The Continental’s afternoon tea I want to talk to you about first. As far as afternoon teas go, you couldn’t wish for a nicer space, with an elegant contemporary design courtesy of David Collins Studio (who did The Wolsey in London) that effortlessly marries intimate comfort with modern sophistication.
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What’s black, white and red all over?
No, not the punch line to some dodgy joke, but the new FEAST Francfranc Afternoon Tea!
Thanks to that eye-catching black, white and red colour scheme, there’s something a little Alice In Wonderland-Queen Of Hearts about this afternoon tea set – but it’s definitely too gorgeous to have me screaming “Off with their heads!” at any of FEAST’s unsuspecting waiters. Although now you mention it, that pre-swirled cream and jam for the scones does make the afternoon tea purist in me twitch uncomfortably… but hey, it does look awfully pretty!
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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!
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Forget March Madness, the Mad March Hare or even the March winds and April showers that bring forth May flowers – March in Hong Kong means art mania… also known as any party/event/celebrity visit that-can-vaguely-be-connected-to-art mania.
Sadly I’m not really into art – or parties – but what I can get on-board with is another opportunity to stuff my face. Enter the Grand Hyatt Hong Kong’s Cake Painting Afternoon Tea, a fun collaboration with British/Japanese artist Peter McDonald. Consisting of edible treats inspired by McDonald’s art, plus several of his original works on display too (including some created especially in honour of the tea), this is probably the closest I’ll get to embracing my artistic side this March!
In what will go down in history as The Day Of Two Afternoon Teas, I actually ended up eating the Cake Painting Afternoon Tea for ummm… breakfast (I know, I know) – but what a wonderful way to start the day it was! I’m not going to be giving Brian Sewell a run for his money anytime soon, but I can tell you that Peter McDonald’s art is eye-catchingly bright, vibrant and imaginative, abstract but not in that “well now I feel stupid” pretentious way, and with a tangible sense of fun and playfulness. The Grand Hyatt’s Executive Pastry Chef David White has done a great job of translating all this to the afternoon tea, creating colourful edible creations that still taste good too. Now that’s the kind of work of art I can truly appreciate!
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I’ve had a stressful couple of weeks recently – so of course, the best way to combat this was to have two afternoon teas in one day. Obvious really, isn’t it? (Note: here‘s the one I had for breakfast!)
As luck would have it, our trip to the Island Shangri-La Hong Kong happened just in time to catch their Best Of London Afternoon Tea – a collaboration with Chef Nicholas Patterson, award-winning pastry chef from the Shangri-La at The Shard, London.
I love the Island Shangri-La for its old-school glamour (who can resist the plush carpets in their lifts, which are changed every 24 hours to feature each day of the week?) and their Lobby Lounge is no exception – plump sateen armchairs, marble tables, sparkling chandeliers and a live pianist tinkling away in the corner. The room feels like something out of the castle in Disney’s Beauty & The Beast… no doubt helped by the fact that said pianist was playing Tale As Old As Time when I walked in!
Although it doesn’t have the grandiose cityscape views of other afternoon teas in town, the Lobby Lounge’s enormous windows offer a different but equally lovely panorama – of the Island Shangri-La’s gorgeous tropical garden and giant Banyan Tree. It’s a view totally different to any other I can think of in Hong Kong, and further adds to the place’s quiet and relaxed charm.
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In a city swarming with afternoon teas, there are a couple of stone cold (or rather, scone cold hehe) classics that rarely disappoint – The Mandarin Oriental, The Four Seasons, The Peninsula… and I think it’s about time that I added The Intercontinental Hong Kong to the list.
Whilst many hotel teas here boast pretty sweet views of the city thanks to their lofty heights (à la The Ritz-Carlton or The Upper House’s Café Gray Deluxe), The Intercontinental’s might just be my new favourite based on sheer spectacle alone. The laidback surrounds of the Lobby Lounge essentially give you front row seats to the best show Hong Kong has to offer – our magnificent harbour skyline, laid out for all to see via a giant wall of floor-to-ceiling windows. It’s like you’re sitting on the ocean. As far as tea settings go, you can’t get much better… oh, until the sun sets and then you get to see Hong Kong’s glittering skyline by night instead.
With that view, The Intercon could serve me tap water and gruel and I’d probably still be making a return booking. Thankfully, they do a whole lot better than that – and their afternoon tea set is definitely up there with Hong Kong’s stronger offerings. Continue reading
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Back on the afternoon tea trail – and one of my favourite teatime old faithfuls is the Tiffin Afternoon Tea at Palm Court in The Langham, Hong Kong. For truly old-school Hong Kong dwellers, you may know the building better as the former Great Eagle Hotel; it was rebranded as The Langham Hong Kong in 2003, modelled after the historic Langham Hotel in London… which, of course, is legendary for its afternoon tea, so I really wouldn’t expect anything less!
Although the contents of The Langham Hong Kong’s cake stand aren’t anything too ground-breaking, the Tiffin Afternoon Tea does have a lot of other great things going for it – super pretty crockery, a really relaxed loungey vibe and frequent promotions to keep things interesting, including their current collaboration with French patisserie, Paul Lafayet.
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Cath Kidston + afternoon tea = a marriage made in “pretty things” heaven!
Yep, I’m back on the afternoon tea trail, this time with the Cath Kidston afternoon tea at FEAST – the casual all-day restaurant located at the EAST Hong Kong hotel in Tai Koo.
I actually eat at FEAST quite regularly… but with the Cath Kidston afternoon tea in full swing, the restaurant was the busiest I’ve ever seen it. In fact, it was full on oestrogen overload! Girls seem to be drawn to Cath Kidston prints like bees to a floral-decorated honeypot; factor in a highly Instagram-able afternoon tea set (is Instagram-able a word yet?) and you end up with a restaurant packed with tables of girls all doing an awful lot of photographing/swooning over cute teapots and not that much actual eating!
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Are there any problems in life that aren’t solved by afternoon tea?!
Well, that’s a question I frequently put to the test with my cake partner-in-crime, Mirander! Our afternoon tea sessions usually consist of long periods of chatting, sighing, ranting and crying – mostly on my side, whilst Mirander says, “There, there,” and orders us some more cake.
Having drank a lot of tea and eaten a lot of cake in our time, the likes of Starbucks and Pacific Coffee just don’t cut it anymore. We love uncovering cute little cafés in Hong Kong where we can vent to our heart’s content in delightful surroundings – and our latest discovery is Hit The Road.
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Tagged afternoon tea, afternoon tea hong kong, best cafes in Causeway Bay, best cafes in Hong Kong, best dessert hong kong, café, Causeway Bay, coffee shops in Hong Kong, CWB, dessert, dessert hong kong, eating out, Hit The Road, Hit The Road cafe, Hit The Road Hong Kong, independent cafes Hong Kong, independent coffee shops Hong Kong, review, upstairs cafés, upstairs cafés Hong Kong, where to eat Causeway Bay