Classic high tea doesn’t have to be taken in an English country garden. These two teas enjoyed in Asia take the cake!
I would say that I’ve had more than a 1000 afternoon teas. Call them Cream Teas, Afternoon Tea, Devonshire Tea, High Tea, Afternoonsies, or a mid-arvo cuppa and cake – I’ve had them.
I think it is the most civilised and friendly ritual anyone could indulge themselves it.
Now, I don’t roll out the cake stand and the best teapot on a regular basis but when I’m travelling I always plan an afternoon tea experience into the itinerary mix.
My two standouts for 2018 are both set in Asia. The first was in Hanoi, Vietnam (yes, there’s so much more than pho) and the second was in Singapore (hold the chilli and pass the cakes!).
To stay in the Sofitel Legend Hanoi Metropole Hotel is to be treated like royalty and to be immersed in Hanoi’s long and complex history. The French carved out a colony in Vietnam from 1887 until its defeat in the First Indochina War in 1954 when independence was claimed for the country.
After that Vietnam couldn’t catch a break and until the mid-70s war between North and South with many other nations putting their oar in raged until peace at last.
The French left many beautiful buildings especially in the north – Hanoi has the lion’s share of splendid, restored colonial villas and public buildings. The Queen is the Sofitel Legend Metropole Hanoi, gleaming white, brass polished as a shining ritual and all things here, tres bon. The staff still greet each guest throughout the hotel with a warm “bonjour”.
The hotel includes 364 rooms and the historic Metropole wing has 106 guestrooms and three Legendary Suites. The suites are named after famous residents and visitors to the hotel (Graham Greene, Charlie Chaplin, Somerset Maugham).
Afternoon tea here is best entered into with a stout heart and a competitive spirit.
Every day, between three and 5.30pm, an irresistible chocolate library opens in the Club Bar. Praline, ganache, éclairs, mille-feuille pastries, chocolate fountain, a selection of every imaginable kind of French pâtisseries and delectable chocolate in all shapes and form appears and appeals seductively to the afternoon tea fanatic.…Its reputation has spread well beyond the borders of Vietnam.
Made from the finest Vietnamese grown cocoa, the Metropole Ganaches are carefully prepared to make the finest grade couverture chocolate. The chef here was dipping tiny matcha nougat squares in chocolate while we watched. There were two of us and we decided to share the love. One of us would take the High Tea and the other would take up the Chocolate Library challenge. This is a buffet extraordinaire – try one of everything – chocolate truffle, mousse and ice cream, macarons, a chocolate fountain and a hot chocolate for good measure.
The High Tea comes on a layered stand – where to start? From the bottom with savoury snacks including baby quiche Lorraine’s and tiny sandwiches. Up a level and the scones call to you. Jam and cream of course and decorated fruit tarts – on top now – a display of wee cakes to slip delicately into one’s mouth.
There are other wonderful restaurants here – but don’t book on the same day as you have the High Tea.
From the Paris-inspired cafe La Terrasse to the popular poolside Bamboo Bar or Vietnamese restaurant Spices Garden, the multi-award French restaurant Le Beaulieu or the stylish Italian-influenced restaurant and new lounge Angelina – the hotel promises a gastronomic journey.
And did I mention cakes?
I once read a food travelogue that described Singapore as the ‘world’s best restaurant’. Every Asian cuisine melds with all world food here and whether you eat at markets, food courts, hole-in-the-wall treasures or five-star gourmet extravaganzas – there is not a dish that you could miss out on here.
I’m a sucker for simple old-school chicken and rice and anything that is presented from Little India and have always been on the hunt for the perfect afternoon tea.
On my most recent visit, I finally got to enjoy afternoon High tea at the famous Fullerton Hotel.
The magnificent Fullerton Building is a grand neoclassical landmark built in 1928. Gazetted in December 2015 as a National Monument, it was once home to Singapore’s General Post Office, the Exchange Room and Exchange Reference Library, and the prestigious Singapore Club. Today, The Fullerton Hotel is a stunning 400-room heritage hotel in Singapore.
Located in the Fullerton Hotel Singapore’s vast sunlit atrium lobby, The Courtyard (North and South sections) is the lively restaurant setting for all-day dining, whether for a light meal, a signature Japanese or Indian curry buffet, leisurely afternoon tea with unlimited replenishment of your tiered contents and free-flowing coffee and tea; or an elegant cocktail.
We stuck with the afternoon tea and despite the generous offer to replenish…we only ordered extra scones, they were that good!
Tastefully furnished with plush sofas and a friendly ambience – the tea event was being enjoyed by many other High Tea aficionados.
Our tea arrived as the lovely silver art deco three-tiered stand arrived laden with all that is good under heaven. The scones are a little exclusive and like to be served away from the rest of the sweet treats – they arrive on their own plate, jam and cream to the side.
Small sandwiches, finger-style were filled with egg, smoked salmon and smoked duck. Brie cheese with plum jelly on a hazelnut cracker was devoured without a second thought. Little samosas, miniature pies covered the savoury offerings and the various layers of all types of cakes and patisserie beckoned. Chocolate éclair, lemon tart and English fruit cake were savoured slowly.
A special, traditional Singapore cake is the Kueh Lapis. The cake has, it is reported, to have its origins in the Nonya cuisine or the Indonesia cookbook, who knows? The delicate cake is a layered cake, sometimes called the thousand-layer cake – or ladder cake. No matter where it comes from, it was delicious, light and geometrically perfectly layered.