50 Shades of Tokyo Desserts | Shade 24
What do you get for following London-based food bloggers? I say, perpetually teased with endless classic, luxurious and themed afternoon teas. So much so that last Friday I finally decided to Google “Best Afternoon Tea in Tokyo” and make a reservation. With gloomy skies looming over our heads it seemed like the most comforting pastime. We decided to immerse ourselves into the finest British traditions at Mandarin Oriental Hotel, impressed with an impeccable service during our dinner at Tapas Molecular Bar earlier this year we were keen to go back. The afternoon tea is served over a leisurely two hours with an incredible view from the chic and shiny 38th-floor lounge with full-length windows — on a clear day, you can even see Mount Fuji! Chairs are comfortable and décor is modern Asian chic. Upon entrance Mr. B had to shake off a bit of discomfort as the room was mostly filled with Japanese young ladies murmuring and giggling as they gossiped and shared society news. I, on my part, felt a bit underdressed in my jeans and espadrilles as all I could see was the epitome of elegance: cute heels and dresses with floral patterns and pearl necklaces. Well, I had to follow Mr. B’s lead and shake the uncomfortable feeling off too. Luckily I was quickly distracted by the profound list of classic as well as bespoke blends including rare teas and herbal infusions. I started off with peach flavored tea served in elegant china. Soon enough, three-tiered stand arrived filled beautifully with various savory and sweet morsels. We helped ourselves to a selection of hors d’oeuvres among which cucumber-wrapped salmon pate topped with caviar, as well as mini tacos with smoked chicken were the most memorable for me. Mr. B also enjoyed the exotic flavors of avocado tart garnished with Mango Mayonnaise, coconuts and Taraba crab, and we both agreed tomato mousse with summer vegetables and basil made a nice flavorful mouthful. While the traditional sandwich passed the freshness test with perfectly fluffy bread it lacked a bit of flavor for me and was not memorable. You see, we didn’t plan our day properly and by the time we arrived to Mandarin Oriental we were starving. Thus all hors d’oeuvres were gracefully inhaled with the speed of light, and we were left at the mercy of scones and decadent desserts. A big mistake, folks. Afternoon tea is to be enjoyed leisurely, in the contemplative manner (or at least that’s what Japanese ladies do, they sip on their tea and nibble for hours). We, hyped Americans, don’t have time or patience for that, or at least we didn’t that day. I felt a bit underfed and was secretly dreaming of escaping to my favorite ramen shop (which we ended up doing afterwards. Hey, no shame!). Although, let me dwell on the sweet treats first. Freshly baked little fluffy and moist scones, with gorgeous glossy shine on the outside, came in two flavors: lemon and cheese. Classic clotted cream, house made lemon curd and blueberry jam provided excellent accompaniment. I quite enjoyed mine, although Mr. B felt quite the opposite and moved to petit-fours instead, which by the way looked quite kawaii, don’t you think? Look at the fish tank! That in fact was Vanilla Panna Cotta with lime mint and pink grapefruit jelly, and it tasted as good as it looked.
Even though I am not a big fan of mango, I did enjoy mango pound cake, it was flavorful and moist, similar to the bite size Peach Danish, with buttery flaky dough. Although, the highlight of desserts was the raspberry bavarois on a hibiscus biscuit. I was almost tempted to steal the second one from Mr. B. Sadly, as pretty as this cutely shaped religieuse looked it was dry on the outside and the filling was a bit too sweet for my tastebuds. Likewise, acerola from Okinawa (blue cake on a stick) was a bit dry, fell apart and did not inspire the palate. I did rant a bit to Emma and Angie about the whole thing, although the truth is experiencing the Afternoon Tea at Mandarin Oriental was nothing short of pleasant and would provide an ideal setback for besties to whittle away their time as they gaze at Tokyo’s skyline. The tea was an absolute highlight and the finger food was satisfying (although I and my Americanized self still think the portions lacked in size a bit). It certainly sated my cravings until I can try the real deal in the company of my wonderful London fairies: Angie, Emma, Jamie and Shikha.
Mandarin Oriental Tokyo | 2-1-1 Nihonbashi Muromachi, Chuo-ku, Tokyo, 103-8328