You would be hard-pressed to find a guidebook on Hong Kong that doesn’t mention afternoon tea at The Peninsula as a “must-do.” As such, I felt obligated to go at least once during my year here, even though 1) I am not a tourist and 2) the institution is an overindulgent glorification of the region’s colonial past. It also just seemed like a fun, moderately-priced midday outing that would let me feign classiness for a day. Classy I am not.
The “classic” afternoon tea comes with your choice of tea from The Peninsula’s tea collection and an assortment of dainty things to nibble on. In order to round out this most authentic British experience, I chose to have the English afternoon tea. Although afterward, I wondered if English afternoon tea is English breakfast tea served after noon: which is to say, I didn’t taste the difference.
Snacks for four: an impressive display.
Top rack: pound cake, truffles and assorted creme-filled chocolates, fruit tartlets, passion fruit and chocolate cakes, and peach puff pastries peeking out over the pound cake. I especially enjoyed the poundcake and the fruit tartlet from this upper deck. On the whole, probably my favorite tier of them all, unsurprising considering my pregnant woman-like weaknesses for baked goods and quality chocolate.
Middle rack: smoked salmon, cucumber, and ham finger sandwiches, dressed-up hot dogs, and savory quiches in the back. The minute I saw those cucumber sandwiches I fondly recalled the opening scene in The Importance of Being Earnest, which for unknown reasons remains etched in my memory.
Bottom rack: raisin scones and sugary wafers. Clotted cream and strawberry jam accompanied the scones. The wafers were pleasantly crisp and airy, but the scones here didn’t hold their own in comparison to the ones at the Mandarin Oriental. Much too dry for my taste, too much like bread and not enough like biscuit, which was probably due to insufficient quantities of the king of all animal products, butter.
Dessert: green tea tiramisu in cute expresso mugs. One companion accurately pointed out that the topping tasted exactly like Captain Crunch, which brought back more fond memories, these of the illicit childhood indulgence variety. Overall, though, the tiramisu was just “meh”.
While the food left something to be desired, we lingered in the lobby for three hours, making sure to get enough bang for our collective buck. While the string quartet provided a slightly more raucous backdrop to the experience than was ideal, the company more than compensated. The food definitely plays a supporting role to the overall experience of being here, which, while disappointing to a foodie, is admittedly a perfectly legitimate business model. So if you’re looking for a noteworthy dining experience, I’d recommend looking elsewhere. But if a leisurely afternoon in one of Hong Kong’s premier landmarks is what you’re after, you could do worse than afternoon tea at The Peninsula.
The Peninsula Hong Kong
Salisbury Road, Kowloon, Hong Kong