Afternoon tea, Ritz-Carlton, Tokyo

Super Strict Score [understand my S3]: 5.5
Savories: 6
Scones/condiments: 3/8
Pastries: 5.5
Tea: 4.5
In 1 word: almost there

Afternoon tea at Ritz-Carltons around the world are fast establishing a reputation as top representatives of their class. How about afternoon tea at Ritz-Carlton Tokyo?

Served in the casual-in-a-very-pompous-way walk-in lounge on the 45th floor, window seaters are able to enjoy stunning views over Tokyo.

Ritz-Carlton Tokyo lounge, 45th floor

Ritz-Carlton Tokyo lounge, 45th floor

2, sometimes more afternoon tea options are available to choose from, the only differences to be found in the savories. As wattwurmnashi is all about the sweet stuff, such trifles are considered irrelevant. What is considered relevant though is my tea selection: 12 Lupicia loose leaf teas are presented to me & explained [or you could go with coffee]. Of course, wattwurmnashi goes with the chocolate-cinnamon blend, also grandly called the Ritz-Carlton special blend although the former plays an unequally bigger role in my decision making than the latter.

Chocolate-cinnamon tea a.k.a. Ritz-Carlton special blend

Chocolate-cinnamon tea a.k.a. Ritz-Carlton special blend

  • Ritz-Carlton special blend [chocolate-cinnamon blend] [S3 = 4.5]
    Compared to the cinnamon tea that wattwurmnashi had for afternoon tea at the Peninsula Hotel Tokyo’s Peter Bar, the special Ritz-Carlton blend is more full-bodied but after the 1st cup the tannins become really strong & overpowering, a feat that is already noticeable in the very 1st cup but at that time still in check. The cinnamon taste is more subtle than at Peter, a bit more woody while chocolate notes are even more elusive. Post-1st cup, they’re gone completely & only cinnamon & especially tannins remain. I understand the beverage of choice is endless but even though wattwurmnashi is a big tea drinker, the Ritz-Carlton tea pots are quite large & I only manage to go through 1 pot in 2 h & don’t feel like more tannins afterward.

Having diligently done my homework, I am puzzled by the current menu & the supposedly current online menu being divergent. Fortunately, personal un-preferences are swiftly dealth with.

Out comes:

Afternoon tea [for 1] at the Ritz-Carlton Tokyo

Afternoon tea [for 1] at the Ritz-Carlton Tokyo

  • Savories
  • Camembert crostini, shrimp + crab toasty, potato-salmon canapé, asparagus soup, tuna-cucumber sandwiches

    Camembert crostini, shrimp + crab toasty, potato-salmon canapé, asparagus soup, tuna-cucumber sandwiches

    • Crostini with Camembert & dried strawberry [S3 = 3]
      The bread has taken too much moisture & the Camembert looks like it’s been sitting around for quite some time.
    • Shrimp + crab toasty with Cajun mayonnaise [S3 = 8]
      The shrimp tastes the way only a very fresh shrimp can taste. There’s a hint of smoked paprika. Extremely pleasant.
    • Potato-salmon canapé [S3 = 5]
      The salmon is lightly smoked => not too dominant, the potato has very nice texture but not taste & all in all this item is lacking.
    • Rose + white asparagus cold soup [S3 = 6]
      Quite a light, refreshing non-cream soup with nice asparagus taste but the rose eludes me, & I’m sensitive to rose.
    • Tuna + cucumber sandwiches [S3 = 6.5]
      There’s some mustard, elevating some otherwise good as they are sandwiches a bit further still.
  • Scones & condiments [S3 = 3/8]
    Unfortunately, the scones are the big letdown of the afternoon tea. I’m being told by my very professional waitress that the scones are extremely popular & are served warm, kudos there but all the warmed-upness can’t hide that those scones aren’t up to scratch which is already plain visible to the naked eye. They taste mostly of flour & baking powder & are rather bread-like. In the face of superb jams from Beerenberg Farm down in Oz & good enough although as ever not enough clotted cream that feels even more of a waste.
  • Pastries
  • passion fruit mousse, lemon meringue tart, rose macaron, blueberry + cherry muffin [you can't really see the chocolate Paris-Brest]

    passion fruit mousse, lemon meringue tart, rose macaron, blueberry + cherry muffin [you can’t really see the chocolate Paris-Brest]

    • Passion fruit mousse [S3 = 7]
      Is not too sour with the mousse part being rather creamy & smooth & lending some substance.
    • Lemon meringue tartelette [S3 = 6.5]
      The meringue-lemon ratio is a bit skewed but the pâte sablée is excellent.
    • Rose macaron [S3 = 3]
      The raspberry jam filling is quite thin & I can’t taste any rose. Tasty as is, but de facto not a rose macaron. Did they run out of rose maybe?
    • Blueberry + cherry muffin [S3 = 6]
      The waitress describes this as a raisin cheesecake but it is simply not. No deductions here because there must have been a mistake. As is, the muffin is quite moist & more refreshing rather than heavy.
    • Chocolate Paris-Brest [S3 = 5]
      The chocolate pastry cream is delicious but not really chocolatey & all in all, this Paris-Brest is far too un-chocolatey to deserve its name.

I am mainly being looked after by one designated employee whose service is among the most professional wattwurmnashi has come across: unobtrusive, yet always there at the right time, very friendly without veering towards overbearing or fussing. She always materializes when I have taken the last sip in my tea cup to refill it & manages to make customers feel special in the anonymous Moloch of Tokyo. However, I have read occasional reports of not so good service at the Ritz-Carlton lounge so don’t go with too many expectations.

So how does afternoon tea at the Ritz-Carlton Tokyo fare altogether?

For the most part, the food is very good & the Ritz-Carlton chefs seem ambitious to go the extra mile. In some cases, that seems to lead to the basics being slightly neglected in favor of pretty presentation. Sadly, the scones are outright bad & while the tea is very pleasant at first, it becomes a very bitter mess soon enough. Setting, atmosphere & service offer relaxing leisure in luxurious, but not snobbishly so surroundings. An afternoon tea with the potential to impress big time, but in patches it needs a bit more attention to detail.

Tokyo Midtown
Akasaka 9-7-1
Minato-ku
Tokyo

Ritz-Carlton Tokyo official homepage

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4 responses to “Afternoon tea, Ritz-Carlton, Tokyo

  1. Oh dear, it doesn’t sound like a very pleasant experience at the Ritz!
    Wanted to ask whether the tea set was for 1 or for 2 and how does the price compare with other afternoon teas in Tokyo?

    Anna x

    • Hi Anna!

      Thanks for your comment! That was a set for 1. Thanks for asking, you’re right, I’ve seen sets like this & it’s supposed to be for 2 – absolutely ridiculous in my mind! I’ve updated the info so hopefully it’s crystal clear now. So, I think the amount you get is fair. It’s a good sized afternoon tea.

      As for the price in the context of other afternoon teas in Tokyo, uuuhm I don’t pay attention to prices… Most luxury hotels in Tokyo offer an afternoon tea option at around 4000¥. Then they usually add a 10-15% serving charge on top of that. Like I mention, at the Ritz-Carlton [also at some other places] they also offer another afternoon tea option with fancier savories that costs double that I think.

      & of course, serving sizes & beverage selection will vary from place to place. Unlike in the UK, you will never ever get any free food refills anywhere. The Ritz-Carlton would be on the upper end of how much food you get in an afternoon tea in Tokyo. At Peter at the Peninsula which I’ve reviewed before [http://wattwurmnashi.com/2014/06/17/afternoon-tea-peter-bar-peninsula-hotel-tokyo/], you’ll be even fuller though.

      At both Peter & the Ritz-Carlton, you can choose 1 beverage which is refilled for free as many times as you like but you can’t change it to something else. But at Peter, I also got a different, complimentary drink to start with. It’s usually champagne but as I didn’t want any they offered me to choose anything else & I went with a Valrhona hot chocolate. That makes a big difference to me.

      Then at other institutions, you can have as many different drinks from the afternoon tea drink menu as you like. I can think of the Mandarin Oriental & the Four Seasons Marunouchi from the top of my head. On the other hand, there are a few places you can only choose 1 drink & it won’t even be refilled, for example Ladurée.

      Of course, things like that will greatly influence your experience as well as individual value for money assessments I think.

      Personally, I actually enjoyed my experience at the Ritz-Carlton. The outstanding service probably played the biggest part in that. & I would be happy enough with the food as is – but I really think they need to fix 2 things: 1. the oversteeping problem & 2. the scones.

      Wow, this answer has become really long – hope I’ve answered your questions to your satisfaction, if not keep probing!

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