Last weekend I was invited to the Millennium Hilton’s latest afternoon tea. I love a good afternoon tea, the cakes, the sandwiches, the champagne and the whole fanciness of it all. While some places we have visited in Asia, like Hong Kong, are absolutely laden with afternoon tea options, Seoul is quite sparse in comparison . Honestly it surprises me that Seoul is not jam packed with afternoon tea joints, as no one enjoys beautiful cakes and coffee shops they can photograph more than Korean girls.
The Live Afternoon Tea is on during weekends from 2:30pm- 6:30 pm. You need to reserve in advance, and have a minimum of two people. The tea set costs 40,000 per person, and comes with the live desert platter, 4 pairs of sandwiches and your choice of tea or coffee. You can also upgrade your afternoon tea to include a glass of Moet Champagne, bringing the price up to 65,000 per person.
After being seated in the beautiful lobby of the hotel we were asked if we would prefer tea or coffee. The tea and coffee selection was not really exploited, usually there is a tea menu to select from but we were just given a plain black americano, and a pot of English breakfast. We were given no milk or sugar which annoyed me somewhat too. I pressed the bell for assistance but no one ever came to see if we were okay.
There were so many goodies on the platter I don’t even know where to start, so I’ll explain it in the same way they made it. It started off with four sauces, mango, raspberry, chocolate and green tea. Next they added fresh and frozen berries, chocolate covered marshmallows and mixed nuts. Next came the main desserts which included grape tarts, macarons, creme brulee and sponge cakes. Then we had strawberry, chocolate, and green tea mousses, before finishing with the crowning glory a giant chocolate orb, that when smashed broke apart to reveal an apple cake with whipped cream. We really enjoyed the selection of different items on the plate, there really was a great mix of flavours and textures. The main desserts were all very light and not overly sweet, which I though reflected most desserts found in Korea. However the sauces especially the mango and raspberry added the punch of flavour I was looking for. The chocolate orb was very large and would be a chocolate lovers dream, it was like a giant Easter egg!
The savoury part of the tea seemed like an afterthought in my opinion and what really let it down from being a great afternoon tea. Included were chicken & mushroom, tuna, salmon, and ham sandwiches. The chicken and mushrooms, had a slightly curry kind of a flavour, reminding me a little bit of coronation chicken. They weren’t bad but they weren’t good. Edible, but I’ve had better chicken sandwiches in Paris Baguette. I can’t stand tuna so had to let TFB handle those, he thought they were passable but nothing special. The salmon horseradish pancake was kind of interesting, but the pancake itself was very sweet and tasted like cake. The worst by far was the ham and cheese roll up, not only did it look like it was for a child’s birthday, it tasted revolting. I’m sorry but no 4 star hotel should ever be serving plastic cheese to anyone, especially in an afternoon tea. With all the wonderful ingredients they must have up in their kitchens, surely even the lowliest trainee chef could have come up with something better than this. Sorry if it was a bit ranty, but we Brits take our sandwiches very seriously!
Overall I really enjoyed the idea of the afternoon tea, the dessert platter was a very fun and novel idea. If you are looking for a way to treat a friend it is very impressive. However if they want to make themselves into a known destination for afternoon tea they need to make sure that the same care and effort goes into the drinks and sandwiches as they put into the desserts.
The Millennium Hilton Live Afternoon Tea is located at 50, Sowol-ro, Jung-gu, Seoul. To get there take a train to Seoul Station (lines 1 & 4) and come out of exit 11. Follow the road around and take the third left, then walk straight. you will see the Millennium Hilton on the left hand side. For more information you can call them on 02-753-7788, or visit their website.