Being in a place with both British and Asian influences, there are more tea sets in Hong Kong than there are weekends to enjoy them! I have been to a few (being an American and all, this whole meal mid-afternoon throws me off a bit!) but now I can safely say that the Lobster Bar and Grill Afternoon Tea Set at the Island Shangri-La is the best. It has an inventive twist on your usual suspects; scones with clotted cream and jam were inevitably on the list, but the set is so large that the scones were just a mere blip on the radar!
The main star of the tea was, of course, lobster. With four dishes showcasing the versatile crustacean and numerous more featuring in-house-made pastries, there was a perfect balance between sweet and savoury. Tucked away in the back of the lavish hotel, Lobster Bar and Grill is unpretentious with a relaxed atmosphere, a live piano player keying soft background music and a glimpse of a harbour view. Service here was sublime; attention was paid to each and every table and unlike most restaurants in Hong Kong, I only had to flag down a waiter once.
My friend and I indulged in the two-person afternoon set which included a bottle of Veuve Clicquot Rosé Champagne and a tray filled with multiple delicious finger foods. At $788, this is a steal especially given how much food you get – according to the Assistant Director of Food and Beverage, the champagne on its own on the menu costs more than ordering it with the lobster set! In fact, there was so much food, you could order one set (for $238) and have enough.
We began with the savoury lobster choices. A crispy waffle cone was reminiscent of a miniature Ben and Jerry’s and filled with plump lobster tartare and a sprinkle of caviar on top; there was also a rye bread roll with lobster and marscapone and a creamy lobster and buttery avocado sandwich, both of which were a little bland. However, the celebrity of the lobster dishes was the barbecued lobster and truffle bun; take your favorite pineapple bun in Hong Kong, add sweet lobster and the best mushrooms around and you’ll get this wonderful Asian-inspired dish. Meanwhile, a mushroom tart with a mix of firm fungus and a sweet homemade base proved to be a great segue into the sweet dishes.
The scones (both plain and raisin) erred on the side of an American biscuit with a spongy consistency, but were a delightful break between savoury and sugary. With almost ten confections in the set, there were almost too many to try; thank goodness for take away bags and a stomach that allowed at least one bite of each! One dessert that stood out was the Paris Brest with an almond cream, which reminded me of Kahlua flavored hazelnut cream sandwiched between a cream puff. The strawberry fruit tart filled with vanilla custard was equally yummy – the tart base was the same as the mushroom one earlier, which meant it was perfection. The raspberry marechaux was another sweet-meets-savoury delight with a meringue macaroon-like topping and a moist cake on top of raspberry jam. Burning the brightest in my mouth was the frou frou, a traditional French dessert made with a signature dark chocolate cake and crispy biscuit – it was both crunchy and smooth… in other words decadently delicious!
While a few of the selections were a bit blasé, I reckon that if there were too many dishes chock-full of flavor, your palate would be overpowered… So better to cleanse with the pistachio and mango tart (good, if a little boring) than to go hungry, I say!
On the whole, the afternoon tea set was filling, inventive and delicious. For a less expensive way to spend your weekend afternoon than the average hotel brunch, a plate overflowing with good flavours and first-class ambience, Lobster Bar and Grill can’t be beat.
The afternoon tea set costs $238 for one person, $428 for two people and $788 for two people including a bottle of Veuve Clicquot Rosé Champagne. It is available every Saturday, Sunday and public holiday, 3-5:30 p.m.
Lobster Bar and Grill 6/F, Island Shangri-La Hong Kong, Pacific Place, 88 Queensway, Admiralty
2820 8560 www.shangri-la.com/island/
or email [email protected]