50 Shades of Tokyo Desserts | Shade: 27
Do you know that moment when you need a little bit of “me time”? When you have to work on something, but need to get some “fresh air” and search for inspiration beyond the four walls of your apartment to get the creative juices flowing? I was having that day on Saturday and pondered on number of options: heading to a spa, although no work done there – falling asleep in the hands of a beautician is usually inevitable; my favorite coffee shop, but then it gets way too crowded and distracting on the weekends. It was also that time of the day when I was not very hungry, but craved a touch of savory topped with something sweet. And thus the train of thought brought me to an idea of an afternoon tea, a perfect excuse to get out of my weekend “indoor clothes” and doll up for a decadent high tea affair. This time, my choice fell on Andaz Tokyo (Hyatt Hotel chain) in Tonamoron Hills near Ginza, a relatively unexplored area in my books. Well this, and also the fact that this afternoon tea featured éclairs, a dessert I can never EVER resist (who’s with me??). Offered daily at Andaz Tavern on the 52nd floor of the sleek & modern skyscraper, the high tea didn’t fail to deliver what it promised. I loved spacious dining hall with statement décor pieces and floor-to-ceiling windows that offered sweeping views of Tokyo. Elegant interior and refined ambiance was matched with wonderful afternoon tea set – a two-tiered stand filled with delicious savory morsels as well as sweet creations. Visual delight and party for the taste-buds. Traditional freshly-baked scones were served on a side with heavenly clotted cream and orange jam (bingo, my favorite!). Sadly, the selection of teas was nowhere near as sophisticated as that of Mandarin Oriental Afternoon Tea, although I did manage to try couple of interesting herbal infusions, namely rose hit & hibiscus, as well as wild cherry tea. I started with my luxurious savory nibbles among which foie gras cream brulee topped with maple roasted plum was nothing short of amazing. As simple as it sounds ham and cheese grilled sandwich served with a blob of mustard sauce formed a perfect bite. I was also quite pleasantly surprised by Jerusalem artichoke tartlet generously topped with ikura. I’ve never tried this combination before, but the smooth artichoke puree lent a subtle background depth of flavor, while salmon roe added that rich savoriness and umami. Sea bass croquette was sadly my least favorite having a strong fishy taste and completely overpowering the accompanying smoked uni. However, I marveled at refreshing and light cucumber soup expertly paired with a buttery toast topped with cured salmon. By the time I devoured my last bite I was already on my way to cloud 9 from pure sensory satisfaction – incredibly peaceful ambiance and expansive urban views, paired with delicious food and drinks. I sank deeper into my comfortable velvety armchair, ordered third cup of tea and eagerly moved on to the scones. These came in two flavors – classic and orange (quite meagerly, one of each) – and were little pieces of heaven, especially when paired with the clotted cream and jam. Although nothing was as exciting as finally indulging into the dessert. I inevitably started with a trio of eclairs – lychee & rose, pistachio, chocolate salted caramel. While the first one was my personal favorite, all three were absolutely sublime with freshest pate choux and light airy fillings. Other three mini-cakes – chocolate financier with beautiful ganache, sable topped with pistachio cream and pate de fruit, crème brulee tartlet with strawberry mousse (I mean, just writing about it makes me drool all over again) – were all exquisite and tantalizing. I was in a sweet-tooth wonderland, so much so that I was ready to forgive somewhat inattentive servers who were extremely courteous, yet somehow kept taking too long to serve the refills. As I scribbled the final paragraph of a future post into my notebook (yes, I’m that girl who prefers to hand write things) and sipped the last bits of my pleasantly tart cherry tea, I looked around. I was the only expat in the room (besides a barman with thick Australian accent). The rest was a lovely scene of elegant young Japanese ladies chirping their hearts out for hours with occasional giggles and comments as they leisurely sipped tea and nibbled on delicate mignardises. I left utterly refreshed and satisfied. Filling a bit guilty for indulging too much without J, I took a quick snoop around Andaz Tokyo’s pastry shop on the ground floor and picked up not one, not two, but six flavors of mini-eclairs all of which were equally enjoyable. Willing to walk off all the sugary bliss I devoured earlier I walked towards the Hibiya Park nearby only to find a whole new set of temptations with open air live concert in full swing, tables set around the fountain and under the tents, and food stalls with twinkling lights enticing locals and expats alike with beer and bratwurst. Alas, I was too full for all this. I inhaled the cheery atmosphere of the fading summer night and hopped onto the train home.
How do you like to spend your “me time”? Let me know in the comment below, I’d love to know!
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