In the world of afternoon tea, it’s hard to stand out from the crowd. Traditional afternoon tea (AT) consists of a variety of finger sandwiches, followed by scones with clotted cream and jam, and finished off with a sweet course of dainty patisserie &/or cakes. Absolutely nothing wrong with tradition, but I do personally begrudge paying top dollar for an underwhelming AT. You know that moment of disappointment when you say to yourself: “Could’ve had a Nandos.” – Yup, I know Rosie and I have had a few of those thoughts after some of the ATs we’ve shared. But, the point of this article is never to name & shame, but to give props to some of the best ATs around. This time, I’m sharing the best themed afternoon tea offerings I was lucky enough to indulge in this summer, in Hong Kong & London.
First stop – Hong Kong.
Now, strictly speaking, dim sum is not really afternoon tea, but it can (& should!) be! There’s tea, there’s savouries, there’s sweets – what more could you want? And then imagine that all in HELLO KITTY theme! The inner child in me still squeals inside whenever I see any Hello Kitty themed food, so imagine an entire restaurant serving all things Hello Kitty… Hello Kitty Chinese Cuisine (Lee Loy Mansion, Canton Rd, Yau Ma Tei, Hong Kong) offers everything from Kitty fried rice, to Kitty curry, and every adorable Kitty dim sum treat in between! I met the restaurant owner, Maurice, who treated me to one of the special “head-sized” birthday buns. Inside, this glorious bun contains three smaller buns filled with various sweet fillings, such as vanilla custard. The char siu bao was one of my fave dishes – just check out those super-sweet Kitty faces! They even serve mini-Kitty-custard tartlets, and their version of Kitty hog dogs. My work-schedule in Hong Kong had prevented me from visiting this gem of a restaurant in previous years, so this time I made it a point to make the time to visit here, and I’m sure glad I did. If you’re ever in Hong Kong (Kowloon-side), I highly recommend enjoying an afternoon tea (or lunch or dinner) at Hello Kitty Chinese Food Restaurant, you won’t be disappointed; it’s a Hello Kitty fest and feast! PS – Whilst you’re in Kowloon, check out I-Cremeria at the mall in Harbour City and nab yourself one of these bling-y gold soft-serve ice creams!
Next stop – London.
A couple of my Canadian girlfriends came to visit London this summer and invited me to join them for AT, but only if I picked it. The last time Jackie & Judy came to visit, we enjoyed a traditional AT, so I really wanted to choose a place that had a bit of a ‘wow factor,’ but that wasn’t too packed or touristy, as we hadn’t seeneach other in a few years and wanted a lovely place to sit and catch up. I had been to The Berkeley Hotel’s Pret-a-Portea AT a few years ago, and remembered what a fun experience it was. I saw the new Summer 2017 menu and booked on the spot, and I’m so glad I did. I love when ATs evolve and improve through the years, and the Pret-a-Portea offering certainly has. Just look at the presentation of the savoury courses. Yes, I said courses. Not only did they serve traditional finger sandwiches, but they also included some gorgeous amuse-bouche appetisers – the tomato macaron was truly inspired. I really did not miss the scone course at all! Certainly the outstanding fashion-inspired patisserie course (all served on a stunning cake stand) would be worth the cost of this AT in itself, with each beautiful pastry almost too pretty to eat. I’ve included The Berkeley’s own descriptions below. I can’t wait to see next season’s Pret-a-Portea.
Gucci’s pink candyfloss summer berry sable Breton jumper in a rhubarbmousse, accentuatedwith a golden sugar bow.
Ralph & Russo pain de Gênes dress cake with velvet lavender cremeux and beriolette jelly, romantically topped with a showstopper sugar frill.
Stella McCartney’s brilliantly British chocolate and vanilla Battenberg cake inspired by her chequerboard summer pumps.
Emilio Pucci’s playful colour-blocked jumpsuit reimagined as a caramelised pineapple compote with coconut jelly and strawberry bavarois, crowned with a psychedelic chocolate wave.
Charlotte Olympia’s high-kicking ‘Chiquita’ banana pump biscuits to channel your inner Carmen Miranda.
Dolce & Gabbana’s hazelnut daquoise pasta-print midi dress with praline croquant and Gianduja chocolate mousse, finished with a fun farfalle
Mulberry’s ‘it’ Pembroke bag in a Valrhona ivoire chocolate-glazed cake, inspired byBritish collegiate stripes.
Balenciaga’s new perspective on street style, recreated as a raspberry bavarois and blueberry compote, topped with a kinky, slinky pointed stiletto biscuit.
Miu Miu’s retro bikini lime biscuit – the must-have swimwear making a splash on the seaside this summer season.