I felt like I needed to get back into city mode after returning to Bangkok from Bali. Frolicking among the birds of paradise like a rainforest nymph can’t go on forever, and now it was time to hang the batik sarong back on its bamboo peg and get my head into some kind of business mode again. And what could be more corporate than a top-of –the-line international business hotel in the heart of Bangkok’s diplomatic district?
So next thing I know, I’m in high heels and sitting on top of a skyscraper in the sleek lobby of the Okura Prestige Hotel on elegant Wireless Road, surrounded by embassies and luxury malls. Not that I have any business meetings to go to. I don’t even know any Japanese people in Bangkok. I’m here for some fabulous food.
This was my first time in the Okura Prestige Bangkok, even though it’s celebrating its 5th anniversary here this year with a series of charity events. Walking into this hotel feels like walking into a building in Japan. In the ground floor lobby, all the surfaces are deep black and very polished, like a well-lacquered bento box. The lobby lounge is filled with small clusters of people speaking Japanese and bowing to each other. It’s kind of fun, like going to another country without having to get on a plane.
Japanese food is the most popular foreign cuisine in Thailand (did you know that almost 70,000 Japanese expats living in Thailand) and the Okura Prestige naturally has first-rate Japanese cuisine. However I’ve always been intrigued by their Japanese-themed afternoon tea sets.
This is the only hotel in town that offers these signature tea sets with seasonal Japanese themes every three months –cherry blossom for spring, lavender for summer, autumn leaves for autumn and festive season for the end of the year. I’ve always wanted to try the pretty pink and very Japanese Sakura Blossom Afternoon Tea and since it’s still spring, this was the right time to try it.
Not that many years ago the only type of afternoon tea set you could get in Bangkok was the traditional English tea set in fancy hotel lobbies. Now you can find Harrods’ tea rooms in luxury shopping malls around Bangkok, which is convenient if you like a cucumber sandwich and lapsong souchong break during your shopping, though can be a bit disorienting when the other diners are wearing black burkhas because they’re all tourists from Saudi Arabia. Bangkok has become such an international city, where you can find everything everywhere, all the time, in a great mash of cultures and styles and people that sometimes you get moments where you wonder, “where am I?”.
Anyway, back at the Okura Prestige, afternoon tea is served in the airy Up and Above Bar, located beside the reception lobby, 24 storeys above the busy street below. The tea set arrived in a big white box with drawers containing confectionaries, scones, dainty finger sandwiches, and miniature hamburgers. The set is meant for two people, though there were four of us and so many goodies in the box that there were still items left over in the end. Don’t try eating this on your own or after eating a big lunch!
The savoury fare includes a cold soup of Jerusalem artichoke vichyssoise, mini brioches with duck rillettes and orange, tartlets of parmesan custard with ratatouille, and beautiful little smoked salmon and cucumber sandwiches on pumpernickel,
The sweet items include fluffy Yuzu jam rolls, Daifuku rice cakes stuffed with red beans, velvety Cremeux puddings, and light as air macarons. Did I mention that everything is pink? Hello Kitty would feel right at home here.
There are also rich chocolate truffles, strawberry shortcakes, and pretty little scones flavoured with Sakura blossoms.
A selection of teas includes a Sakura tea which is green tea infused with cherry blossoms. Other beverage offerings include freshly brewed premium Saro and Mariage Frères teas, fresh illy coffee, or champagne and prosecco.
This is a lovely way to spend an afternoon with friends or have a stylish business meeting if you want a different type of afternoon tea experience in contemporary chic surroundings.
The Sakura Blossom Afternoon Tea is available until June 30. Next up is the summer theme, which is a Lavender tea set featuring all sorts of pretty purple desserts.
Sakura Blossom Afternoon Tea is available until 30 June 2017, 2 p.m. – 5 p.m. daily at Up & Above Bar. Prices are THB 1,190++ inclusive of premium coffee or tea for 2 persons, THB 1,690++ with Sake (250 ml) or with 2 glasses of Prosecco, THB 2,750 with two glasses of Champagne. Up & Above Bar is located on the 24th floor of The Okura Prestige Bangkok.
Have you had a Japanese tea set before? How was your experience?