Monday, 31 August 2015

Warm, Soft Scones & a Nice Pot of Earl Grey at the Tea Lounge

I have become a fan of afternoon tea lately. 

I go to one about once a week.

The Courtyard was actually the latest tea that I went to. The week before that, I was at The Regent's Tea Lounge.

It was rather incidental that we ended up at the Tea Lounge. I had always wanted to try the afternoon tea at the Axis Bar & Lounge at Mandarin Oriental Hotel. There seemed to be glowing reviews about its afternoon tea no matter where you look, so without doing a double take, I booked one for my mother, elder sister and myself on a Thursday afternoon at 3pm.

Horror of horrors!

This was the menu I saw:

Hainanese chicken roulade with chili and ginger?
Nonya rojak??
Fried carrot cake???
What's worse was the second tier:
Spiced sardine sandwich? Laksa salmon corn wrap (do they even pair well?)?? Roti John???

I am no fan of durian but I could always stomach it if the rest were delectable.

I told the waiter that I was sorry but we wouldn't want those on the menu.

The view from the Axis Bar & Lounge was awesome but no thanks!

My sister's stomach was growling due to an absence of breakfast and lunch. My mother's face was lined with a tinge of disappointment. I was not going to give up without a fight. So right there and then, just outside the place we said no to, I called up Chihuly Lounge at Ritz Carlton which was just next to The Regent, but all seats were taken up. I scrolled through the list of '20 places to have a relaxing afternoon tea' and decided that I would give the Tea Lounge a try. I had been to its weekend tea buffet but not its week day afternoon tea. And the polite staff gave me a table for 4.

By the grace of a cab ride, we got there at 3.30pm.

We were shown a treasure box of tea leaves with their names on the bottle caps.
We were invited to take a whiff at the tea leaves to better decide which tea we wanted.
I smelled all and decided that Imperial Earl Grey was still my cup of tea.

I thought this was a really thoughtful gesture. 
It is always difficult to guess the taste of tea by just a silly name.

Another thoughtful gesture: a drainer
I was of course pleased to see my beloved clotted cream right in front of me:
strawberry preserve, lemon curd and devonshire clotted cream (what fanciful name for a clotted cream!)
We were first served a plate of appetizers.
Hmm ... the server did introduce the individual items but I can't remember what exactly they were.
I only remember the round bread in the middle had lobster and salmon roe on it. That was delicious.
The one below in rectangular form was a mushroom quiche.
And you have the usual cucumber with egg mayonaise, salmon sandwich and a ham (?) sandwich.

 What's a woman to do when the food comes?
Take pictures of course! 
The three-tier tea set
It may look small but we couldn't finish our own set.
We had to packet them home! 
The sweets at the top (from left) : chocolate cheese cake, strawberry tart, black currant panna cotta shooter (in a cup), pistachio cake
Still the top tier: lemon meringue choux, chocolate and jasmine tea macaron

Second tier: the warm and soft plain and cranberry with almond scones!

Bottom tier: prawn and corn quiche, vegetables puff, cheese straw, chicken pie
I don't know which is which except for the cheese straw which is obvious, but they are all there!

I love the attentive service and the wonderful food.

In fact, it was this afternoon tea that revived my faith in afternoon teas. I was going from tea to tea and felt that each was getting from bad to worse. Each time I went for an afternoon tea, my disappointment deepened.

But The Regent doesn't disappoint.

Lovely! It would be nice to be able to spend 12pm to 5pm there on a weekday afternoon but my non-tai-tai status doesn't permit that!

And price? $45++ per adult. Child's price is half of that.

Sunday, 30 August 2015

A Leisurely Afternoon Tea at The Courtyard

Last week, I spent my Wednesday afternoon at The Fullerton Hotel for an English afternoon tea.

The Courtyard is on the reception level. 
It was my first time setting foot in The Fullerton and I thought it had a beautiful and warm interior.

I would always ask if the afternoon tea comes with scones and clotted cream.

The Courtyard English Afternoon Tea serves the tea set in a three-tier rack, which I prefer to a buffet spread.
First tier: vanilla creme brulee, red velvet cup cake, chocolate eclair, raspberry financier, English fruit cake
Second tier: smoked salmon mille feuille with avruga caviar, curry egg sandwich on brioche roll, otak-otak sandwich with quail egg with walnut bread, plum jelly, pistachio with hazelnut cracker, smoked duck with spicy mango salsa, mini bagel, proscuitto ham with cheddar cheese, classic cucumber with salmon roe
Bottom tier: salted caramel chocolate tart, lemon tart, double flavoured macaroon, kueh lapis
The warm and soft scones (plain and raisin) come in a separate plate.

While a blogger had commented that it was not remarkable, I quite like the tea set.
The items are replenishable 

 I spent my 3pm to 6pm there a happy, albeit old, tai-tai wannabe.

This will be a place I consider for my 'second coming' when I have exhausted the list of places I could go for an afternoon tea. The servers were friendly and casual. The one who served us tea even smelled the tea pot covers before deciding which tea was for who!
The price? $43++ per adult.

Saturday, 29 August 2015

Day 10: Flying Back

Our room was just about diagonally opposite of the lift!
And just for the record, 5th floor is the highest floor at Palm & Fountain Hotel.
What I loved about the hotel ...

For a sea view that we could not touch that barely justified the long distance we had to cover (from the lift to the room) at the end of the day, I think next time, I would settle for a no-view.

There is a Lawson, the equivalent of our 7-Eleven store, at the reception level. 
I got our breakfast from there!
For some reason, the Japanese have the softest white bread which makes eating sandwiches lovely. They cut away the crusty sides too! The little things they do that others don't even bother are probably what makes the difference.

The Disney store which I never got to patronise. 
We always went out before it opened and returned after it was closed!

Directly opposite the reception counter is the Guest Services counter where they deal with your luggage and airport bus matters.
The spacious lounge between the two counters

A few school girls saw Baby in her Anna outfit and gushed,"Kawaii, kawaii!" 

In between the hotel guests waiting in line for the Disney Shuttle Bus and the airport bus is the nice hotel concierge guy who guided us to the bus and helped to inform the bus driver that we were the ones going to Narita Airport.

The Japanese provide the top-notch service!
Did I mention that we flew Scoot again?

I explained to Baby what the word on the can meant and she was exhilarated, insisting that it was meant for her!
Hey, the air-stewardess gave it to me!

Day 9: More of DisneySea and a little of DisneyLand

 It was Day 3 at Disney.

We had fallen in love with DisneySea so we decided to return to it for the earlier part of the day and visit Disneyland if we had the time.

 I did a rough plan the night before and looked through the places that we had not visited. Those would be the places we go for first.

Toy Story Mania was the first thing on our mind.

Day 3, a Tuesday, opened at 9am. So we were at the gate before nine.

This time round, no mistake about it. I went for the Fastpass queue while my mother and Baby made a beeline for the 'standby' line. We did this so that after I got the Fastpasses, I could make a big round and come back to Toy Story Mania to join them for the ride.

As I had joined the Fastpass queue right after I entered DisneySea at 9am, the line moved very fast and I soon got my Fastpasses.

I had to endure a few 'Are you trying to jump queue?' stares to get to them though.

We love the mini green dumplings so much we bought 6 of them!
But they proved to be too much for us.
Our seasoned tastebuds now preferred only the vanilla dumplings.

We grabbed our Fastpasses at Mermaid's Theatre and popped over to Lost River Delta.
This is another popular ride but as the crew told me that it was very 'speedy',

Ariel's photo-taking closed at 5pm so Baby was disappointed on Day 1, but we made it a point to go to Ariel's Grotto before 5pm on Day 3!

Tokyo Disneyland and Sea are really particular when it comes to photo-taking by the official photographer.

When I said I wanted a picture of Baby and a picture of three of us together, the crew turned me down, saying that they could not have a repetition of a person in the pictures!

I was quite shocked at this stupid idea. I am going to pay for them, right? Why can't I pay for any configuration of the pictures?

In the end, Baby had her picture on her own and my mother and I took the picture together.

Using my camera, I opted for three of us taking the picture together as at any one time, they would only help you take 1 pathetic picture using your camera.

Baby wanted very much to take this 'little' roller coaster at Flounder's Flying Fish Coaster.
I obliged after about 10 minutes of deliberation.
Thankfully, it didn't slant as badly as I had imagined and ended sooner than I had expected.

Then we proceeded to The Magic Lamp Theater at the Arabian Coast to watch a 3D magic show with the genie as the host on the screen.

Baby enjoyed it very much. She felt that the things on the screen were coming towards her.
It amused her and made her laughed quite a bit.

The Japanese girls seemed to love donning similar costumes or dresses.

Baby was soon hungry for a sausage bun which I hesitated to buy for obvious reasons!

If there was something about the Lost River Delta for the kids ...

it had to be the Character Greeting Trails!
For once, the characters were housed in a fixed place from 9.15am to 9.15pm and if you queue up for them, and just under 30 minutes too, you will surely get a shot by the official photographer!

Except that Mickey, Minnie and Goofy are in jungle outfits!
But no matter. We still love them!

This is the Tower of Terror just beside Toy Story Mania.
While queuing for Toy Story Fastpasses or ride, you can hear the terrifying screams of the visitors at regular intervals.
Of course we didn't try that.

The Venetian Gondolas that we didn't get to ride on as the queue was ridiculous.
The Storm Rider model shown before the actual ride

We watched the much anticipated Mermaid Show at the Mermaid Lagoon Theater.
It was well worth the Fastpasses and the wait.

Despite not understanding the language, we enjoyed the show, out of all the shows, the most.

Little Mermaid was hanging in the mid air above the audience, singing, dancing and doing somersaults away!

If there is any show I would recommend, it is this!

At 7.30pm, we rushed over to Disneyland to do a last-minute visit to Toon Town - the land where you can only find in Tokyo Disneyland.

We took the Roger Rabbit's Car ride.

The crew cautioned my mother against taking it as it would rotate constantly, so my mother opted out of the ride.

We would give it a miss if we ever return to Tokyo Disneyland. It was kind of boring, the illustrations were awful and the laughter was sinister. The ride lasted much longer than we had hoped.

We did another round of shopping at The Grand Emporium, the largest shopping centre in Disneyland, before we made our exit and kissed the Disneyland goodbye.

The Disney Resort Line

 The Fast Passes that we collected over the 3 days of fun!