Lost in Translation Afternoon Tea @ The Park Hyatt Tokyo

Courtesy of the “Lost in Translation” movie The Park Hyatt in Tokyo has become a stomping ground for tourists to stop by for a cocktail @ The New York bar on the 52nd floor. The bar hosted the famous scenes between Bill Murray and Scarlett Johansen and has admiring skyline views of Tokyo City – worthy for a tipple pit stop. 

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The New York Bar opens for the evening and gives an opportunity to see the sun set over the city. The food and drink is suitably New York inspired with great american cocktail options, I opted for a Pisco Sour which was fresh and frothy!

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We took the opportunity to dine at the Park Hyatt’s Peak Lounge for Afternoon Tea in their Skylit Bamboo Garden so that we could indulge in great natural light views of the city. In our time in Tokyo the Park Hyatt’s views were the best we had seen – due to its location being a bit afar from the action it gave a wide city view.

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The atrium had a wonderful spaccey feel due to its large glassed windsows and high covex ceilings. The decor was a little underwelming but the views made up for it.

The Afternoon Tea menu provided a vast tea selection, ranging from the traditional to herbal and japanese varieties. There was also an option to have a completely “Sweet Afternoon Tea” however I have chose the Traditonal “Afternoon Tea” to sample their savoury bites. Both menus were priced the same at 3800Yen.

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After selecting our teas the finger sandwiches soon followed. The Japanese have a way of making things very cute and precise, and this tea was no different! The sandwiches were some of the smallest and cutest I have ever seen…..who knew you could make white sliced bread thumb size?!

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The tea settings were pretty and the cutlery – simple and white elegant.

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Scones came out warm with a variety of Praline & Plain. This was the first Praline scone i have ever tasted and I loved the caramelised flavour it added to the crumbly scone. The condiments were good but portions of the clotted cream required me to request for an encore.

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Just when I thought it was time to start on the sweet pastries we were surprised with a variety of savoury canapés….

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Once we had tasted all the little additions we started devouring our sweets. Favourites were the chocolate & cassis mousse and macaroons. Alike to the savoury round, additional sweet treats were presented and the sweet square jellies were moorish!

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All in all the Park Hyatt tea was a well executed afternoon tea service with fantastic views of the city. The wide variety of treats and extensive brew menu should find something to your fancy. A little refurb on the sofa and a few more flower displays would notch up the deco.

I would highly recommend a cocktail at the New York bar….its famous after afterall!

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The Afternoon Tea Room @ Grand Front Osaka

Now for something quite different – afternoon tea in the centre of Osaka, Japan’s foodie capital – for those more interested in the local delicacies watch out for my next blog on our own Nippon food safari in Osaka.

Located in the new and vast Grand Front Osaka complex in the Umeda area which housed several great dining areas (Umekita cellar and Umekita dining) as well as some off-beat stores and cafes. There is one shop that immediately grabbed my attention, fittingly named Afternoon Tea. This store has both a retail and a cafe side to indulge in some high tea –  eating your cake and shopping concurrently – quite my dream day!

Upon entrance the store is full of tea time goodies which immediately gets you in the mood for a cup of brew and some teatime fancies.

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There is a great diversity of tea-related items including tea towels, mugs, other kitchen related bits and bobs and of course many many different types of teas! After browsing for quite a while I was no longer able to resist and filled my basket with a number of goodies from this wonderful shop.

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One of the highlights of the shopping spree was the superb precision gift wrapping   (which is fantastic in most Japanese stores). They have  seriously nailed all things art, craft and gift wrapping in Japan!

Shopping done. Now time for Tea & Cake!

We went for the traditional afternoon tea set priced at 1,400 yen. For this you get a pot of tea and a choice of 3 types of sweets presented in a beautifully weaved Japanese basket. I went for the traditional scone, an apple strudel and a berry mousse short cake that was the special of the week.

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For those looking for a sweet little tea snack (post lunch) thats not going to stop you from your shopping spree – this is a perfect teatime pit stop!

The scones were a real highlight, warm, crunchy and with a great texture they were wonderful with the jam and the very whipped japanese cream which was to die for! The Apple Pie Cake was buttery and scrummy, the short cake was amazingly light and tasty, I would eat it all again.

We had the Earl Grey tea which was nothing to write home about, I would suggest trying something different, perhaps the matcha green tea next time, and maybe save space for a savoury main course too. Definitely pop in if you love your kitchen home ware!

Also check out their website for more info (in Japanese) or to ogle at the homeware goodies!

http://www.afternoon-tea.net

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To Tea or Not To Tea

Another day, another scone. My second London tea-themed experience took me to my favourite Drawing rooms within the beautiful and quaint boutique – Ampersand Hotel in South Kensington.

Before I reveal the delicious details of their Afternoon Tea I have to admit I love the Ampersand Hotel and bias happens to creep for me, but for all good reason. After my 6th visit in 12 months I still say its chic, modern and easy to enjoy. That said I am not alone in my opinion – I have taken and recommended many friends to try the Ampersand whether for tea, lunch or dinner or even a night cap and to date all have enjoyed its boutique ambience and personal touch service. Given that the hotel opened in 2012 it remains to hold a new feel upon entering with a gorgeous fresh interior.

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There are plenty of places that serve afternoon tea in London but it pleasures me when I find a place like the Ampersand that is more off the beaten track and yet low on the pretentious pretence that many London establishments hold.  The Drawing rooms relaxed “french finess meets british style” gets you cosy quickly. For me an ideal spot for a pot of tea and girl time gossip.

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Their Afternoon Tea theme alternates every few months inspired by current London events. A long running one is their Science Afternoon Tea – super fun, creative and totally delicious. I really recommend trying it.

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This summer has had three other fun themes inspired by Wimbledon, the Chelsea Flower show and the BBC Proms. A friend of mine tried the Chelsea Flower show tea and voila! Looks pretty divine…..

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The Musical afternoon tea is their current running theme and to my delight I got to try out their musical inspired sweet treats @32.50 pp and 44.50pp with a glass of bubbles.

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The tartines (french open sandwiches) and gougeres (savoury profiteroles) are more then moorish and available with all of their afternoon tea selections. The team are very flexible and invite you to switch and swatch whatever fillings you prefer more of. So great if you are a vegetarian or like me want more of the yummy coronation chicken tartines!

The white chocolate scones really are one of the best in town. Even after my recent scout this month I still think the Ampersand have mastered these beige boys! Worked perfectly with my pot of peppermint tea.

Now for the sweet musical treats, for me the highlight was the passionfruit coulis mousse and salted caramel macaroon. I’m not an avid fan of macaroons usually but these turquoise ones had me wanting more. The cello  cookie, grand piano cake and raspberry mousse cake were all delightful and not too heavy to finish!

The Ampersand team really made the experience a special one. Their friendly Head Chef Chris Golding made a point to escape from his hot kitchen to welcome us and gave us an opportunity to take a tour of where the magic is created. He also provided some extra cakes and brownies on the house for my friends who couldn’t eat the raspberry cake with gelatine in them. Super kind!

Chris introduced his Head Pastry Chef Ji Sun Shin who was busy creating the next batch of delicious cakes.

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Chris also heads up the menu at Apero the main dining restaurant & bar at the Ampersand; its worth checking out for lunch, dinner or like me for cocktails and bites. The menu is always interesting and his selection of house breads such as the flower pot and beetroot buns for the UnBeetable burgers are yum! He’s such a beetroot believer he has one tattooed on his arm! Also, the squid scotch egg is a must – my favourite battered egg to date!

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Another option is to have evening drinks in the Drawing rooms. I have enjoyed their canapés and champagne and found it to be a charming way to catch up with a group before the night begins.

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All in all the Ampersand is an elegant little find that I recommend for any time of day. Their afternoon tea is consistently inspiring and the Drawing rooms a charming cocoon in busy South Kensington. “Brush off your glad rags and try out their Fashion Afternoon Tea” in September and make sure you have a potter around the corners of the hotel and you will find all sorts of character and quirk –  fancy a game of ping pong or vino party….you’ve found a great place!

IMG_5552Find our more at http://www.ampersandhotel.com

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To Tea Or Not To Tea

I’m guilty of eating between meals and at half past three everything stops for tea!

Its National Afternoon Tea Week in the UK a National event I feel compelled to join in. After all, it is a very British affair and we do, quite frankly, do it the best.  I spent last week in London meeting friends over tea, I achieved a new record; 4 afternoon teas in 6 days.  How fitting for Tea week! It feels apt to share some scone highlights and tea favourites, One gorgeous tea review at a go…. Kicking off with……

Afternoon Tea Inspired by Charlie and the Chocolate Factory @One Aldwych £34.50 per person, alternatively you can opt for an add on (as I did, and would recommend) of Lallier Grand Reserve Champagne at £45 per person. There is also a Charlie Cocktail option which had many takers.

One Alywych had me at the menu! Inspiring they promised and inspiring it was. Who doesn’t have fond memories of Roald Dahl’s classic characters?!

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The contents of the menu continued to be inspiring and transported me back to my childhood; candy floss, eton mess, chocolate eggs! Glee. The Tea Selection was full of fruity options, I chose the Jewelled Apple and was not dissapointed. It aimed to transport you back to the days of sticky, crunchy toffee apples and it really did.

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No afternoon tea is without its sandwiches and savoury. I say upfront however in my opinion they are not the highlight of this tea. Its about the Sweet. A good range nonetheless for vegetarians and pescatarians as the only land animal was the Roast beef sandwich (resembling a chocolate brownie) which wasn’t really to my taste, a bit too rare for my liking but probably the way it should be.

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Now for the ultimo magic, the Sweet round. What a display, quirky, imaginative and highly attack worthy. We ate it all without any pause. I cannot say any particular item was standout as they were all superb! We left nothing but a few crumbs behind us. Like a big kid the homemade pear drop & rhubarb candy floss got my attention first and then the Golden Chocolate egg filled with vanilla cheesecake and mandarin. The Chocolate Caramel Milk helped wash down the divine Eton Mess and Lime, Coconut, White Chocolate pop.

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I normally eat scones before the Sweet Round however this time they came third and rightly so after that display. That said, the scones were good and came in a bread basket accompanied with a blueberry brioche and the best Cocoa Bean Financier I have ever eaten.

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If like me Roald Dahl sits very fondly in your childhood memories then this tea is worth your time. Perhaps even a visit to the Charlie and the Chocolate Factory musical running across the road would be a fun joint trip.

One Aldwych have aced their tea service, they are attentive and warm which is not always a London norm. The theme is wonderful and full of magic and sparks. Overall, a fun sweet filled day at a price that is competitive to the main high tea flyers in London. Go!

http://www.onealdwych.com

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Watch out for the second scones write up….featuring one of my favourite Drawing rooms in South Kensington!