A kaleidoscopic afternoon tea affair where East sits with West, and tradition is rocketed into the 22nd century.
Reporting from HK, these Dessert Correspondents were recent participants of what must be the craziest afternoon tea this side of the world (i.e. the Asia-Pacific region). Forget your 180 degrees, ruler-cut ribbon sandwiches, scones with perfect circumferences, dainty tartlets and cake slices in a hush-hush, cannot-hear-a-fork-drop setting. Take tea at the W’s Hotel Woo Bar in Hong Kong, and the tables are entirely turned upside down and inside out.
The hotel of choice for many a celebrity stopping over in a city that never sleeps, the WooBar hosts an afternoon tea buffet every weekend. You can perch at bar stools and high tables, but take our lead, and tell the maitre d’ when booking that you want a window seat. Eat cake and watch a hazy sun set over the glistening ocean. What an afternoon.
Without further ado, let’s proceed. The menu is presented as a black and hot pink list of 18 savoury items and 12 sweet items. It’s the former, rather than the latter, that are the show stoppers of this afternoon tea. You eat from palm-sized, square black plates, which is both a positive and a negative. Firstly, you don’t feel like such a piggy because your little plate can only load up 2-3 items from the buffet stands at any one time. However, you eventually end up with a veritable tower of black plates…that take a little while to clear as the service staff are not particularly efficient nor observant. In any case, an afternoon tea buffet is pure fun, so who really cares about silver service?
Have you seen savouries like these before? If we were to detail each of the 30 items, this review will become an online monotony. So, in summary, let’s say that everything was different, quirky, fun and must-try. Of the menu items listed below though, our favourite was the “French Duck, Lavender, Purple Potato Crumble” in a smoked glass, the “Mojita, Prawn and Mint” gel globule, and the super-kawaii “Beijing duck bun” that resembled the ever-so-trendy gua bao bun. Aside from a popcorn machine, and also syringes and tubes filled with flavoured gels and syrups that you can squeeze on whatever whenever (tongue-in-cheek of course0), other savouries included:
- Tortilla wrap with lobster and mango
- Pinwheel cucumber and salmon sandwiches
- Lobster and papaya wrap
- Miniature croque monsieur
- San Daniele prosciutto and goats cheese pizette
- Compressed melon, daquiri melon and angus beef salad
- Ceviche bites with romaine and radish
- Roll of prosciutto, chive and creme fraiche
- Micro quiche with brie cheese
- Vietnamese vegetable rolls with spicy tofu sauce
- Croissant with prosciutto and gruyere
- California roll bite with yuzu and miso infusion
- “Micro surf and turf bite” of solid lobster bisque, beef and “teriyaki air”
- “Woo-schetta” of bloody mary cavia and goats cheese on a crisp
As an intermission, scones were served piping warm in a dim sum basket! The jam however was slightly bland, though the cream had the right consistency with a bit of naughty, being swirled with white chocolate!
The sweets buffet at the WooBar’s afternoon was most appealing in looks, but not quite as spectacular as the savouries. Nonetheless, the dessert buffet was good. Of the 12 dessert items, our favourites were the exceedingly good “T-ramisu Flowerpot” and the absolutely boozy “Green Tea and Yuzu Martini Lollipop“. The other menu items that comprised the sweets buffet included:
- Stardust nut
- Fruit tartlets
- Glitter-coated macarons
- W-Hotel imprinted candy
- Vanilla cheesecake with raspberry ad white chocolate
- Deconstructed tiramisu
- Chocolate fudge cake
- Profiterole puff of ricotta cheese, rock nuts and raspberry
- Apricot, rosemary, orange jelly
- Dossants (!)
In our experience, afternoon teas falls into three categories. There are the tragic affairs that make you wonder why you even bother. Then there are the traditionalist, all-hail-the-monarch occasions that put you on your best behaviour and in your Sunday best. And then there are those that are a 21st century take on 19th/20th century tradition, and which are memories in the making. Taking afternoon tea at the WooBar falls into the latter category. Overlooking the absent service, for innovative savouries and kaleidoscopic sweets, afternoon tea at the WooBar is worth one very chilled afternoon.
Dessert adventure checklist
- ☑ Dessert destination: WooBar at the W Hotel, 1 Austin Road West, Kowloon, Hong Kong.
- ☑ Budget: $$-$$$ (HKD 248 + 10%)
- ☑ Sweet irresistibles: Afternoon tea.
- ☑ Must-eat: “French Duck, Lavender, Purple Potato Crumble“, the “Mojita, Prawn and Mint” globule, “Tiramisu Flower Pot” and the “Green Tea Yuzu Martini Lollipop“
- ☑ The short and sweet story: A kaleidoscopic afternoon tea affair where East sits with West, and tradition is rocketed into the 22nd century.