The Sweet Life

Hong Kong has de­vel­oped a taste for teatime treats at Har­bour City

Hong Kong Tatler - - Tatler Focus - The Royal Touch Bak­ery Café: Shop G02, G/F, Ocean Ter­mi­nal; Tel: 3188 8086 C’est La B: Shop G111, G/F, Gate­way Ar­cade; Tel: 3102 2838 Le Café de Joël Robu­chon: Shop 2608-10, Level 2, Gate­way Ar­cade; Tel: 2327 5711 Dal­loyau: Shop 403, Level 4, Ocean Cent

“There are few hours in life more agree­able than the hour ded­i­cated to the cer­e­mony known as af­ter­noon tea,” wrote ac­claimed au­thor Henry James. Given the gusto with which Hong Kong’s eater­ies have taken to this most quintessen­tially English of meals, it seems the whole city agrees with him.

Leg­end has it that af­ter­noon tea orig­i­nated in Eng­land back in 1840, when Anna Rus­sell, the sev­enth Duchess of Bed­ford, com­plained of “that sink­ing feel­ing” be­tween lunch and din­ner. Her so­lu­tion? A pot of tea and a light snack taken at around 4pm, which be­came such a habit that soon she in­vited her friends to join her. The prac­tice quickly caught on with other hostesses and soon fash­ion­able high-so­ci­ety ladies were sip­ping tea and nib­bling cake in the af­ter­noon through­out the land.

Nowa­days, typ­i­cal af­ter­noon tea con­sists of fin­ger sand­wiches, minia­ture pas­tries, and scones served with cream and jam. The tra­di­tion is still strong in Eng­land’s five-star ho­tels and coun­try­side tea­rooms. How­ever, nowhere else in the world has em­braced the meal quite like Hong Kong, where high-end restau­rants and lo­cal cafes alike serve their takes on af­ter­noon tea. If you make your way to Tsim Sha Tsui’s Har­bour City at teatime, you’ll be spoilt for choice.

The Royal Touch Bak­ery Café was founded by Carolyn Robb, who pre­vi­ously served as the Bri­tish royal fam­ily’s ex­ec­u­tive chef and crafted the groom’s cake for Prince Wil­liam’s wed­ding. For a clas­si­cally ma­jes­tic af­ter­noon tea, in­dulge in the ex­quis­ite set of au­then­tic minia­ture English pas­tries, tea and, of course, tra­di­tional scones with jam and clot­ted cream.

Hong Kong’s very own Bon­nae Gok­son, known as the “Queen of Con­fec­tions” for her celebrity-favourite whim­si­cal cake cre­ations, of­fers her unique spin on the meal at her pop­u­lar cafe-bar C’est La B. Fea­tur­ing minia­ture ver­sions of her play­ful cakes and rain­bow-coloured desserts, plus a trio of sig­na­ture fin­ger-sand­wich rolls, this truly is af­ter­noon tea done in vivid style.

As mas­ters of the pas­try world, it’s un­sur­pris­ing that French restau­rants here have also em­braced the tra­di­tion. Le Café de Joël Robu­chon— the tea-sa­lon arm of the iconic French chef’s res­tau­rant em­pire—serves a re­fined Gal­lic ren­di­tion of the teatime treat, decked out in chic red-and-black tones to match the res­tau­rant’s stylish decor. Think foie gras, salmon tartare, Mont Blancs, mac­arons and madeleines, all served with trade­mark Robu­chon fi­nesse.

Another top op­tion is French patis­serie Dal­loyau, which boasts over three cen­turies of culi­nary her­itage, in­clud­ing serv­ing un­der King Louis XIV and Marie An­toinette. The af­ter­noon tea at the cafe in­cludes minia­ture ver­sions of the sig­na­ture Opera cake and le­mon tart, a lob­ster black truf­fle sand­wich, and scones served with home­made cran­berry con­fi­ture and French clot­ted cream.

With the in­di­vid­ual items in these af­ter­noon tea sets chang­ing sea­son­ally, there’s al­ways a good ex­cuse to come back for more. And we think you’ll agree—there’s al­ways time for tea.

af­ter­noon in­dul­gence Clock­wise from top: the Gal­lic take on the tea set at Le Café de Joël Robu­chon; Dal­loyau’s ver­sion; de­lec­ta­ble morsels at The Royal Touch Bak­ery Café; the sig­na­ture tea set at C’est La B

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