A Un-Chocolate Chocolate Afternoon Tea @ Cafe 103, Ritz-Carlton Hotel, Hong Kong

Date of Visit: June 1 2013

Ritz-Carlton is the highest hotel in Hong Kong, located at the International Commerce Center (ICC). Now, if you are a first-timer to ICC , navigating the shopping mall can be particularly frustrating. I have also seen numerous travellers with luggages roaming around the shopping mall completely clueless as where the W Hotel and Ritz-Carlton are. The problem with way-finding I believe is contributed no less by designating the 2-storied mall into zones denoting the 5 Chinese Elements; thus the malls’ namesake ‘Elements. Rather than putting up signs, the designers should have used different floor colourings to denote Metal, Wood, Water, Fire or Earth to easen the confusion. That said, my advise is that you come an hour early and be prepared to get lost!

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My original plan was to have the English Afternoon Tea at Ritz-Carlton’s The Lounge & Bar with my friend and her toddler. Although at the time of my booking, it was still a month away, the tea service was already been fully booked, so I was offered Chocolate Afternoon Tea at Cafe 103 instead.

The price of the afternoon tea is compatible with the other 5 star hotels (need I say, expensive too?). Here are the deets: Mon-Thur $278 for one $528 for 2; Fri-Sun and public holidays $308 for one and $568 for 2. On specials are Louis Roedere Brut Premium NV Champagne $170 per glass or Moscato d’Asti, la Spineta $88 per glass. (Please add 10% service tax)

After riding the countless escalators and lifts, we were pleased to be served very quickly at Cafe 103 upon our arrival.

We have balcony seatings looking out to the Ocean Terminal/ Harbour City (the BEST shopping mall in HK) at Tsim Sha Tsui where the Giant Rubber Duck is currently anchored.

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Views of Tosca, the acclaimed Italian Restaurant downstairs. Being a sticky beak, I was keen to find out what the diners were having but since it was past 3:30pm, towards the tail end of a very late lunch, I only got to see some very enticing desserts especially the petit fours served on a bed of fair-floss. Perhaps, a visit from me is due?

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Our Chocolate High Tea for 2. The pastries came in a boxed book-case, and all looked very interesting. We started with the savouries at the bottom tier, working our way up.

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Source: Lifestyle Asia

Bottom Tier: What worked for me was the Foie Gras Mousse with a sprinkle of chocolate nibs in Sweet Bun. The Pickled Cucumber and Cream Cheese Sandwiches were a bit stale while the Smoked Salmon with Squid Ink Bread did not excite.

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Smoked Salmon with Squid Ink Bread, Foie Gras mousse with Sweet Bun

Middle Tier: The Choux de Bouda looked like the ‘Pineapple Bun’ from the Chinese bakeries. It is actually 2 round eclairs filled with chocolate custard held together by a burnt matchstick with a red bead; looked good, but tasted bland. Both the Triple Citrus Shot and Mandarin Sable were OK – not as chocolatey as I would like.

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Choux de bouda

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Triple Citrus Shot

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Mandarin Sable

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Mandarin Sable w thin layer of chocolate

Top Tier: I am not sure whether I was given the Passion Fruit Chocolate Tart as per the menu, but in any regards, I enjoyed the dark chocolate brownie with cherry kirsch the most.

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Compressed pecan cake w Cinnamon Cream and Lemon Praline in Black and White Chocolate Cup

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Chestnut confit cake and Passion Fruit Chocolate Tart (?)

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Chestnut confit cake with a thin smidgen of chocolate

All-in-all, my final verdict of the Chocolate Afternoon Tea was at best only very ordinary. Personally, I do not find it chocolatey enough to be worthy of a true Chocolate High Tea. The pastries were somehow stale. I am also guessing that a lot of shortenings were used instead of butter because I felt my stomach getting gassy and bloating after the tidbits.

Whilst surveying the lounge, I noticed that nearly all the patrons were females (girls) with only a handful of 3 or 4 guys in the entire lounge. No doubt girls love bonding over teas and gossiping about their work, i.e. how very important their roles are at their respective companies (which sound very close to home.. LOL..). Nonetheless, where else can a more relaxing ambience be found, other than Ritz-Carlton if you are in Kowloon?

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Source: Ritz Carlton Hotel

Soaking the Ambience @Ammo, Admiralty, Hong Kong

(A scheduled post from the Chica currently on a month-long luncheon in Japan)

Date of Visit: February 17 2013

AMMO is The Hong Kong Asia Society’s museum restaurant and bar. It is housed in a cantilevered glass box wedged under the landmark building designed by New York based architects Todd Williams & Billie Tsien.

The name of the restaurant/bar is very clever – combining the duality of ‘Ammo’, a slang term for ammunition, and the acronym for ‘Asia, Modern, Museum and Original’.

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Glass box of activity cantilevering out of the rock. Visual interaction with its natural surrounding

To enter the surreal ultra-chic copper-inspired museum restaurant/ bar, one has to climb up the stairs, pass the century-old heritage-listed banyan tree and walk through the garden of greens, stones and rocks.

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Heritage protected Banyan Tree (over 100 yo)

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Garden entrance

The designer of this whimsical interior architectural wonder is Joyce Wang. In her experimentation for creativity which is respectful to the context while also alluding to the historical signifcance of the building, she created a unique and retro-chic swish interior masterpiece using copper pipes which were abundant in the former British military explosives magazine.

“The source of inspiration for AMMO was derived from a science fiction film noir masterpiece directed by Jean-Luc Godard known as ‘Alphaville’. This particular 1960’s influence is one of the jewel attributes as to why this space has such importance.”

Feature wall mural at the bar brings excitement and dynamics the place. Cpper pipes riveted together in immaculate detailing. An absolutely swish place to dine and relax in.

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Check out the level of detailing in the riveting

With a ceiling height of 6m, the designer is able to create an exceptional space using 3 sculptural spiral staircase chandeliers made of copper pipes to fill up the space and an aura of high drama.

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Spiral- staircase chandelier of copper pipes

The naked bulbs while classy, also contributes to a warm soothing ambience especially in the evenings.

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Bar’s counter top with naked bulbs underneath

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Naked bulbs under the bar’s counter top gives out a warming glow and thus a soothing ambience especially at night

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Circular chandeliers with naked bulbs

The copper-ribs of the bunker-like ceiling reminds diners of the site’s magazine history.

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Ceiling with a mirror in the center supported by copper ribs

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Chandeliers together with the military and industrial elements refers the overall setting to is former glory as a British Military Explosive Magazine

Custom-made furnitures

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High chair at the communal table

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Detail of the table – riveted table edge and copper pipes for table-stand

Afternoon Tea

I had perused the online menu but didn’t appreciate shell-fish-n-pasta-centric menu, so I settled on the afternoon tea ($308 for 2 persons), which is only available during the weekends.

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Tea-set

The bites were delicious but very dainty and tiny. I’d say “Let’s rock-and-roll kiddies!”

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Afternoon tea set for 2

The scones with blackberry jams were very good. I will suggest that you order scones (didn’t check the price, sorry) and a pot of tea ($50) instead of the afternoon tea.

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Scones with blackcurrent jam and cream

The savouries were good too, but too small to savour the taste properly (boo…)

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Mini Savouries – croquette, beef cheek bruchetta and sardine bruchetta

PS: The pricing for the wines are reasonable starting at $95 per glass.