Tuesday, 1 July 2014

Jean Paul Hévin Chocolate Afternoon Tea Set @ Cafe 103, The Ritz-Carlton Hong Kong

I have never been keen on football. My high school used to teach us girls to play football in PE lessons (boys and girls had PE lessons separately in my school). I still remember how we tried to avoid the football as if we were playing dodgeball - we were obviously more interested in preventing our legs from bruising rather than scoring. There were only a few football lessons but the awkwardness was traumatizing enough for me not to like football. :0

Logically, I don't watch football games. World Cup is the only exception though. I used to be really, really ecstatic about World Cup! Rather than the games, what I truly enjoyed were the privileges during World Cup, i.e. staying up late, munching on midnight snacks, shouting out loud with Dad and Bro... the joy was endless. :) Of course, watching cute football celebrities added to the fun... though my friends generally disagreed with me that Ronaldinho was cute. :P 

Sadly, World Cup has become much less enjoyable these years. Now being a sleep-deprived, full-time employee, staying up late has become more a chore than something to feel excited about. The bottom line is, watching World Cup is no longer a free entertainment. THIS IS SO NOT COOL. :( 

I decided that celebrating World Cup over afternoon tea might be my painless way out. Cafe 103 (formerly The Chocolate Library) of The Ritz-Carlton HK has teamed up with Jean Paul Hévin to prove that these 2 polarized interests can actually be harmonized. Together they have created a chocolate afternoon tea set with a South American theme to celebrate 2014 World Cup Brazil! This is far more exciting than watching World Cup via Xiaomi Hezi and lamenting the poor stability of live streaming. 

Weather was brilliant on the day of our visit. As the restaurant was on 103/F, we enjoyed an expansive view of Victoria Harbour from the window. People say Hong Kong is dying, and I think it is. Ridiculous things that used to happen elsewhere now hit the headlines of our local newspapers every day. Whenever the thought of moving away from HK clouds my mind, it is always the beautiful harbour that reminds me there are still things I love about HK after all. 

The glorious tea treats arrived in a wooden cigar box evocative of South America. :) 

Savoury (clockwise from top): duck foie gras pâté mini puff with Cuba cocoa nibs; seafood and dill cream, Brazilian coffee bread sandwich; vanilla cocoa oil marinated smoked salmon, rye bread sandwich; truffle egg mayonnaise brown bread sandwich

Sweet (left to right, top to bottom): "Macae" strawberry pepper verrine, religieuse, crusty chocolate tart, orange flavour Madeleine, Piura chocolate macaroon, Brazilian chocolate bonbon

One more sweet item: coffee hot chocolate, a combination of the 2 best things from Brazil. It's as rich as melted chocolate!

This is a tea set that would leave you a great sense of satisfaction even if you have the most insatiable appetite for chocolates, because the chefs have used cocoa in making all the sweets and even half of the savouries! It would actually be more sensible to worry more about intoxication! ;)

Although every piece of sweet tasted flawlessly of fine chocolates, I managed to pick out my top 3 favourites: 

2nd runner-up - chocolate macaroon
Now with macaron shops blooming in HK, you may easily stumble on a better macaron, but I'm not sure if you can find a better chocolate macaron than this. The melt-in-your-mouth layer of chocolate ganache, which had a distinct note of berry-like fruitiness unique to premium dark chocolate, was beautiful. :9

1st runner-up - crusty chocolate tart
A chocolate twin of mille-feuille, this is going to be everyone's teatime sweetheart.

Winner - "Macae" strawberry pepper verrine
This was really, really good. It would in fact be somewhat insulting to use "good" to describe it because it's so much more than that!  First the pepper teases your palate, then fleshy strawberries thrill your taste buds... and Brazilian chocolate rounds off the tartness as the grand finale. Try this and enjoy the gustatory roller coaster ride!

The quality of the savouries was sufficient to make up for the small quantity. The truffle egg sandwich completely blew our minds - the truffle was soooo powerfully fragrant that I don't think they needed any specially trained pig to sniff it out in the forest (I would be happy to do that job, wahaha :P)! I didn't notice the presence of cocoa oil in salmon sandwich, perhaps because the rye bread tasted too strong. The combination of foie gras with cocoa nibs was more interesting; the earthy cocoa nibs gave nuances to the evil puff and enhanced the sweetness of foie gras. Delicioso! :9

We ordered Cafe 103's signature hot chocolate as beverage. We knew we were having too much chocolate but we were just too tempted to have a complete chocolate experience! We kinda regretted the choice, though, when we later learnt that a cup of coffee hot chocolate was already included in the tea set. :0 For a moment I worried if I could be the first person died of chocolate overdose, but then I thought maybe it wasn't so bad to die in that way anyhow. :P

Like any other branded afternoon tea sets, the tea set comes with coupons. Each coupon entitles you to a 10% discount in JPH boutiques. While you may not want any more chocolate after tasting the tea set, you can buy some for your family and friends to share your love for South America. :) 

Ambience: A-

Service: A 

Food: A- (A chocoholic's dream come true! :9)

Overall remarks: It's obvious that the South Americans are ruling the world with football AND chocolates this summer! If you don't have a favourite South American football team, join the bandwagon by picking your favourite South American chocolate from this tea set!

Cafe 103 (website)
103/F, The Ritz-Carlton, International Commerce Centre, 1 Austin Road West, Kowloon, Hong Kong
Afternoon tea: 3:30-6:00pm daily
Jean Paul Hévin Chocolate Afternoon Tea Set available from now to 31 July 2014
$318 for 1 person, $538 for 2 persons (Mon - Fri)
$338 for 1 person, $558 for 2 persons (Sat, Sun & PH)

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! :)

Thursday, 13 February 2014

Busy Days...

The last few working days in Year of the Snake had been a nightmare. There was so much to do that I had, for a moment, secretly wished that the Apocalypse would come and put an end to everything. The 4-day CNY holiday was no consolation to my exhausted mind and body - I was only made busier by all the gatherings and meals. Now on the 14th day of CNY, it's pretty obvious that bad luck is going to stick with me this year. Just a glance at my to-do list is enough to make me SCREEEEEEEAM!

This blog will probably be reported to Blogger for disturbingly depressing content if I go on like this... fortunately, my cupboard is always fully stocked with powerful antidotes to depressed mood: tea!

The newest addition to my first aid kit is this Tea Almanac from teakha. In the neat bamboo box there are 15 different kinds of tea, one for each day of CNY. The teas come in linen pouches which can be reused as coasters. Isn't that lovely? ;)

I love sipping tea when I feel overwhelmed. To me, a nice cuppa works like an anchor; it grounds my restless soul in the present moment. It clears my mind - even if briefly - so there is no more rumination about yesterday or worry about tomorrow. The only thing on my mind is the very cup of tea that I am drinking. It's a peaceful, almost zen-like state. That's why I always feel better after a tea break. :) 

Now writing the abstract for an upcoming presentation... I gotta make myself a large pot of tea as I can be smashing my keyboard any minute. See you, I hope it won't be too long before my next update. 

Thursday, 2 January 2014

Lanvin ♥ Sevva Afternoon Tea @ Sevva

Happy 2014 everyone! :D As one of my new year resolutions is writing more on this blog, I think it'd be great to start this year with a brand new blog entry. :) I know I have promised to write about my tea experience in the UK, but after having tea at Sevva a few days earlier, I really can't wait to share my juicy story about it! 

The story began in mid-December, when we Evil Girls planned to celebrate Christmas with one of the hottest tea sets in town - Lanvin ♥ Sevva Afternoon Tea. Mindful of Sevva's no-reservation policy for afternoon tea and Kong Girls' obsession with branded tea sets, we decided to arrive at Sevva 45 minutes before tea time (3:00pm) to queue for a table. 

To our astonishment, a long line was already formed by 2:05pm on the day! :0 We could not get a table and had to move to Cafe Causette for tea in the end. While the afternoon with EGs was as enjoyable as always, I had difficulty letting go of our failure. I guess I was just mad at myself for not arriving at Sevva early enough! :( 

At the end of the day, I resolved to revisit Sevva 2 weeks later for Lanvin afternoon tea. I told myself that I ought to make it, no matter what it might take! It sounded absolutely crazy, but even crazier were Hellish and his friend FK, who were willing to do that with me!!! :0 I wouldn't be surprised if we were caught and sent to Castle Peak Hospital, cos we were indeed nothing but insane!

So here you go, a chronicle of our epic *Lanvin afternoon tea adventure*

[14/12 night] Fixed the date and time of our operation: 28/12 1:45pm. No pain, no gain.  

[27/12 night] Studied reviews of Lanvin afternoon tea on Openrice and prepared myself psychologically for rude treatment by Sevva staff. I had been a victim myself before, but it just wouldn't hurt to be better prepared for the abuse that was bound to happen. 

[28/12 12:00pm] Called Sevva. Was told that queuing time for Lanvin afternoon tea formally began at 2:15pm (no wonder there were already so many people by 2:05pm last time). Decided that meeting at 1:45pm would be safe. 

[1:30pm] Arrived earlier than planned at Prince Building. There was already a neat queue for afternoon tea in the lift lobby! :0 Understood it was not the official queue but joined it anyway. We were like the 3rd party in the queue. 

[2:00pm] Lift lobby chock-full of people. Security guards of Prince Building and Sevva staff tried to arrange the queue to alleviate the congestion. 

[2:12pm] The girls queuing in front of us seemed to think it's time and entered the lift. Although we were certain that it was too early, we did not know what to do other than following them. :0

[2:13pm] Lift arrived at 25/F Sevva. A stone-faced hostess stood right outside the lift and blocked our way. With a watch in her hand, she mercilessly announced that it was not yet 2:15pm and we should go back to the lift lobby first. 

[2:14-2:15pm] Lift carried the bunch of aggrieved people back to lift lobby. I was calm, though. Conclusion: psychological preparation works. 

[2:15pm] Lift stopped at G/F. "Sevva" and "Door Close" buttons were pressed as soon as the lift door opened.

[2:16pm] Lift stopped unexpectedly at 2/F. Panic swept over everyone as queuing time had started. A guy entered the lift.

[A few seconds to 2:17pm] Lift stopped at 3/F. Panic intensified. A woman entered. 

[2:17pm] As the lift was racing towards 25/F, it became apparent that the guy and the woman were also heading for Sevva. They had jumped the queue by squeezing themselves into the lift from other floors! :0 Resentment filled the lift while the free riders tried to pretend that they didn't sense the murderous stares.

[2:18pm] Lift finally arrived at 25/F. Everyone made a beeline for the freshly formed queue just outside Sevva - yes, some people had already reached Sevva as we wasted time on our lift journey. We successfully got into the new queue before the free riders did. I felt relieved as I was certain that FK would kill them brutally if they joined the queue more quickly than we did.

[2:23pm] Table assignment begun by stone-faced hostess. We secured a table!

[2:28pm] Queue was cut. I reckoned that only half of the people who queued in the lift lobby were given a table in the end. :( 

[3:03pm] WE WERE SEATED AT LAST! But I was too exhausted, both mentally and physically, to feel happy...

It's the first time I got seated in the indoor lounge area. We saw groups of people being escorted to the adjacent dining area even after the queue for afternoon tea had long gone. Then we had an epiphany: Sevva reserves tables for their VIPs; only mortals like us have to battle for tables. Indeed, the supply of tables for VIPs was far greater than the demand - the dining area was only half-full even at the busiest time. I felt sorry, if not angry, for those who were turned away by Sevva after queuing for so long. 

There were 3 of us but there were only 2 sets of cutlery on the table. The waiter who brought us to the table was completely oblivious to that until we asked for one more set. Well, THIS IS SEVVA

As each Lanvin tea set was designed for 2 persons, we ordered 1 tea set and a mini burger platter to share. I had a pot of Petal Tea by Penelope Sach, and it turned out be the first thing that went right at Sevva that day. It was a beautiful blend of rose petals, lemongrass, and other organic herbs. It had a calming herbal scent, which was what I needed after the straining queuing process. 

I had seen pictures of the Lanvin tea set beforehand, but still I was struck by its lovely presentation when it arrived before my eyes. The eye-catching pop colours matched nicely to the charming illustrations by Lanvin's artistic director Alber Elbaz, which could be found all over the special placemat and afternoon tea menu.

1st tier (clockwise from right): snowflakes coconut chiffon sponge, vanilla & cocoa macaroon with French vanilla crème, strawberry & pistachio macaroon with chocolate crème

View of 1st tier from another angle. The Santa decoration was so adorable!

2nd tier (clockwise from top): signature minced chicken sandwich, petite finger rolls of French ham & brie cheese, foie gras mousse & onion marmalade on savoury waffle, truffle scrambled eggs on toasted Poilâne, baby potato stuffed with smoked salmon, eggs & crème fraîche, ratatouille on cucumber

3rd tier (clockwise from bottom): pineapple crème gâteau; raspberry, rose petal jam & crème anglaise éclair; chocolate coated éclair with candy sprinkles; banana & strawberry crème; ♥ candy lollipop; Mont Blanc coupe; flower power espresso cheesecake

A better view of the Mont Blanc coupe and flower power espresso cheesecake. See the pic below for a full view of the ♥ candy lollipop!

We were reluctant to admit it, but... well, the food was, ahem, really good. I could not name a top pick because I had several favourites! The pineapple crème gâteau was light as a dream, the chicken sandwich juicy, the foie gras mousse lush and savoury. Even the espresso cheesecake, which is sloppily made in most restaurants, was prepared with care. Unlike those heavy cheesecakes that can become really icky in your mouth, it was so soft and creamy that it made me see cheesecakes in a new light. The only weakness, if I must name one, was that the macaron shells were too hard. But we were completely distracted from the problem because the macarons were generously loaded with luscious chocolate/vanilla crème... who cared about the shells? :9

A pretty gift card was given to guests per order of tea set. It could be exchanged for one special gift at the nearby Lanvin store. The guys were not interested in the gift at all so we did not have the problem of gift allocation. But what if 2 girls have the tea set together and both want the gift? Wouldn't that make the tea experience end on a sour note?

But my worry was unwarranted. Cos the gift was just an ugly Hello Kitty Lanvin mirror that I doubt anyone would be interested in. I definitely like the paper bag with Alber Elbaz's cute sketches more lor...

If gifts are supposed to make guests happy and promote a brand's image, Lanvin has failed utterly in this respect. I'd rather they offered no gift rather than giving people such a hea gift. Perhaps the other gift option, a Lanvin USB storage drive, was more attractive... it probably was because it was no longer available by the time we got to the shop. 

Ambience: A-

Service: U (U= unclassified. Does what they are doing, e.g. making their customers stand for more than an hour and being totally indifferent, rejecting potential customers when tables are actually available, etc., really qualify as SERVICE!?? In fact, there can only be one reason for Sevva not to take reservation for afternoon tea: to create in the lift lobby a super long queue, which visualizes their popularity and serves as their very best living advertisement! As I have remarked elsewhere, when a restaurant uses its customers as a publicity means, it's the customers who are actually providing SERVICE! How very shameless of Sevva to have charged 10% of our bill for service... I should have dialled 999 to report a case of robbery...)

Food: A- (food was fantastic, but still it's hard to justify the hefty price tag!)

Overall remarks: I have come up with the perfect slogan for Sevva: "Heavenly Food in Hell".  Being the antithesis of customer-centred business, they expect you to follow their rules if you want to play their game. Not happy? They can't care less. If you are really, really interested in giving Sevva a try, you may wish to read this post at least 5 times to enhance your mental toughness beforehand... but I will not be responsible for your post-traumatic stress symptoms after the visit. 

Special thanks to Hellish and FK: this tea adventure would not be possible without you!
FK: It's so nice of you to think about me when you read about the Lanvin afternoon tea! You are wonderful :)
Hellish: You are the most wonderful, of course! :P

Sevva (website)
25/F, Prince's Building, 10 Chater Road, Central, Hong Kong
Afternoon tea: 2:30 - 6:00pm (Mon - Fri), 3:00-6:00pm (Sat)
* Lanvin ♥ Sevva Afternoon Tea was priced at $680 for 2 persons and available in December 2013 only. 

Sunday, 1 December 2013

I am back... almost!

To those who still check out this blog: I AM STILL ALIVE!

Have been extremely busy over the past month as we have moved into a new home. Now the time I spend on commuting is almost a triple of that in the past, so that I am too tired to do anything more intellectual than Facebooking (or maybe reading Kinfolk, my latest obsession. Did you notice the Kinfolk-esque photo above? :P) on weekdays. I am happy that we are finally done with the last bit of home furnishing, which means there will at least be some time for blogging and tea-sipping on weekends again! 

Stay tuned for upcoming entries about my tea adventure in London! ;)

Sunday, 25 August 2013

Afternoon Tea @ St Betty + macarons @ Pierre Hermé Paris-Hong Kong

My old pal Alice, a macaron lover, e-mailed me in April and asked where she could get decent maracons after reading my post about macaron afternoon tea in Macau. I am no macaron expert, but it doesn't take one to answer her question. All I needed to tell her was that Pierre Hermé would be opening his first store in HK in a month! If the macarons by The Picasso of Pastry fail to satisfy her, nothing will. ;P

When PH finally opened its door in IFC, we decided to get some macarons there and then catch up with each other over tea at St Betty. Technically speaking it's my first visit to St Betty, as it's called "Betty's Kitschen" and helmed by a different chef when I last visited it with Evil Girls. 


The brainchild of renowned restauranteur Alan Yau, St Betty is a casual European restaurant that is just as chic as its reputed elder siblings Yauatcha and Hakkasan. We found the earth-toned restaurant with full-length windows welcoming and bright. The cheerful waiting staff contributed to the vibrant ambience too. While service could have been slightly more attentive (e.g. the waiters should regularly refill our teapots with water, instead of doing so only when asked), I didn't feel like complaining because the waiters were all quite cute, wahahaha...  :P 

There's one thing that we really couldn't tand - the tablecloth!! When Alice and I were taking pictures of our teas and food, the knife-edge creases of the tablecloth seemed too atrocious to ignore. :( This was the tea that I ordered, BOP seasonal Dimbula from Sri Lanka. It was weaker than I thought and not too special. 

In this picture: CREASE and our tea set!

Top tier: patisserie selection

Middle tier: warm scones, homemade jam & clotted cream

Bottom tier (clockwise from top): crushed avocado, roasted red pepper & chilli jam sandwich; home smoked salmon, pickled cucumber & horseradish sandwich (but the cucumber could only be found on the beef sandwich...?); cheese puff; roast beef, charred red onion & mustard mayonnaise sandwich; tomato salsa, pesto & shaved Parmesan sandwich

Everything in the tea set appeared to be one size smaller than average. There's only 1 glass of yogurt mousse and 1 sandwich of each kind. Under normal circumstances I would start whining like a desperate housewife... not when I knew I would be having PH macarons afterwards though! :9

Reviews on St Betty's tea set are mixed; some people like it, others consider it only average. Alice and I found ourselves in the former group - we thought it's pretty decent. :) The pomegranate-accented creamy mousse on spoon, as well as the bubbly yogurt mousse topped with layers of fruits, suggested that the tea set was designed with style in mind. The 2 different kinds of mousse was solidly good, too, with tartness, sweetness and creaminess all in unison. 

As the rest of the tea set appeared to be quite typical, we did not expect any surprise ahead. That's why we were both wowed by the unassuming but punch-packed canelé. It embodied 3 different textures: the caramelized outermost layer was crispy, body of the crust chewy, and the centre tender. Just like Kinder Surprise, it satisfied 3 wishes at a time! ;) St Betty's scones proved to be different from their prototypical buttery counterparts as well. They were soft and airy, somewhat like English muffin. They seemed so light and innocent that even eating them with slathers of clotted cream sounded like a healthy thing to do! :9

The sandwiches were nice; my favourites were foreseeably salmon (salmon always tops my list of favourites if it's done right - who can say no to peachy slices of fatty goodness?) and piquant tomato salsa. I also liked the cheese puffs, which actually did not have much taste, because they were like a calming oasis for my sugar-overdosed taste buds. :)

Ambience: B++

Service: B+

Food: B+

Overall remarks: If you have got bored of having tea in hotel restaurants, St Betty will be a good choice for a change. The portion is just right for fat-phobic Kong Girls, but do not go empty-stomach if you have normal appetite. :P 

After tea time, it was DESSERT TIME! :D 

Was disappointed that the IFC branch was only selling macaron box sets back then, so we could not pick and mix our favourite flavours. Worse still, none of the sets contained my favourite Ispahan macaron! :( How could they open a branch without even stocking up with their signature flavour!? 

All the grumbles, however, were forgotten as soon as we opened the beautiful box of poetry. The neatly arranged macarons were so colourful, their flavours so playful and creative (e.g. olive oil and vanilla flavour :9)! Ever since my first encounter with PH macarons in Paris, they have become the golden standard of macarons in my heart. So how did PH macarons in HK compare with those in Paris? The jewel-toned pastries were as luscious as I had remembered, but the shells were slightly less crunchy. Perhaps I was inevitably biased after learning that the macarons were flown in from Paris rather than freshly made? Or was my memory of Parisian PH macarons overly rosy? At any rate, as sure as eggs is eggs, PH have the BEST macarons in HK. Yes, their macarons are better than those by Kong Girls' favourite Ladurée, but... *shh* don't tell others about this ok? Let the queue stay at Ladurée so we can continue to enjoy stress-free macaron shopping at PH, hehe... ;)

St Betty (website)
Shop 2075, Podium Level Two, ifc mall, 8 Finance Street, Central, Hong Kong
Afternoon tea: 3:00pm - 6:00pm daily
$398 per 2 persons

Pierre Hermé Paris-Hong Kong (website)
Shop 1019C, ifc mall, 8 Finance Street, Central, Hong Kong
Opening hours: 10:00am - 9:00pm