Weekend Hi-Tea at The Tea Lounge, The Regent Hotel

Saturday, 10 October 2015

The Weekend Hi-Tea buffet at the Tea Lounge, Regent Hotel is a favourite haunt for me and my friends. Every once in a while, we would head over to the Tea Lounge for an afternoon of gluttony pleasure.

In fact, in a recent short span of 4 weeks, I've been there twice with them. Yup, I was that desperately in need of "food therapy". And yes, we really do enjoy our times at the Tea Lounge.

The Tea Lounge is tucked away at the side of the Regent's lobby. It's quite hard to miss really; the buffet spread just beckons as you approach. There are options for seats; sofa seats with wooden coffe-tables or the regular table-and-chairs setting. So if you do have a particular preference, do state them upon making your reservation.
In comparison to some other buffet spreads, the spread at the Tea Lounge would initially seemingly pale in comparison. That is, until you realise that they have cleverly utilised the limited space they have. Each time we visited, food was also replenished regularly, so you don't have to worry that a favourite dish would run out.
The Tea Lounge also boasts of a pretty decent drinks menu. While the tea options are not as extensive as what you get at the Rose Veranda at Shangri-La, but here you get 2 refillable drinks of your choice: hot/iced coffees, hot/iced chocolate, and your choice of a pot of tea. Personally, I'm a sucker for their iced chocolate. It's rich and creamy. Plus I can go a few glasses without feeling stuffed (or sick) on sweetness.
Finger sandwiches and dips
Cheese and crackers
The sushi section
Salads. If you're particular about your veggies, you can DIY your salad too.
More breads. I tend to avoid this section, but the tom yam focaccia is worth a try.
Now this is my favourite section of the entire buffet. The savoury; local Asian on one end and Western at the other. Most of my favourite items come from this section of the buffet, so you can just imagine the number of times I went back for second and third helpings. Ok, fourth and fifth too.
Highlights you shouldn't miss from this section include the roast beef and the salmon. The salmon was roasted with XO sauce on the first, and cooked with yuzu sauce on the second visit. From the local Asian side, I would never fail to pick up a couple of the fried wings as well as the satay. However, what really stole my heart (or more like, my tummy) is the king prawn congee and the chili crab soup with the fried man-tous.
Part one of the dessert section. A complete joy to take pictures of. All those colours and textures. Pink ombre cakes the first round and rainbow cakes the next.
If I had anything to complain about the weekend hi-tea buffet at the Tea Lounge, it would be this section really. I'm not particularly impressed with their cakes and tarts. I often find the cakes too dry and the fruit tarts overly sweet. The chocolate mousse tended to be the safer option usually.
Since it was a quick one-two in a span of 4 weeks, I completely skipped this section at the second visit. Saved the tummy for my trusted favourites instead.
If you really need a sweet to end off the buffet, my recommendation is to come over to this side of the dessert instead. Scones, waffles, crepes and churros. Seriously yummy. One of the best scones too in my opinion. Plus, it comes with a really wide variety of toppings and sauces; from blueberry jam to lemon curd (to-die-for) and the requisite chocolate sauce. With the exception of the scones, the rest can also be freshly made on the spot.
Some close-ups of what wreaked my (perpetual) diet:
This is the flavourful king prawn congee that everyone in my party went back for at least a second helping. The prawns, dried scallops and wolfberries combined to give a sweet broth. The chef at Tea Lounge also had the foresight to keep it simmering in a claypot.
Chilli crab soup with fried man-tous. To be honest, I might already have been biased toward this particular dish. I love my man-tous, be it fried or steamed. Then my family and friends all know I'm a seafood fanatic, in particular, crabs.
Having said that, this chilli crab soup is really quite good. The chef certainly did not scrimp on the crab meat and egg. The spicy level went up a notch during the second round though, so I guess unfortunately, the consistency isn't there. Nevertheless, spicy-ness isn't a big issue for me. In fact, I though it was super shiok.
The laksa is also another item that my friends and I would never fail to pick up each time we visit the Tea Lounge.
In fact, the last round I paired this with a really yummy scallop-chilli condiment. Ooh la la. I honestly didn't know which was the highlight, the laksa or the chilli condiment. I just know it was an awesome pairing.
Salted egg custard bun a.k.a. Liu Sha Bao. Another weakness of mine. My friend and I devoured a few buns between us to get this shot. Not that I was complaining. Heh. Ok, my grouse was that the buns should have more of the salted egg custard filling, that would certainly have made the shot easier to take. Besides, the mark of an awesome Liu Sha Bao is to have the custard filling oozing out when you break/bite into it. But I certainly was not complaining about the yumminess of it. Cholesterol be damned.
The mandatory gathering-of-the-desserts shot. I'll be honest though, I didn't like more than half of what there in this picture.
Chocolate ice-cream and Mango sorbet. Very thick and full of flavour. Absolutely worth the calories. Another pairing that is heavenly; dump a scoop of that chocolate ice-cream on top of a freshly made waffle. Or crepe. Add a dollop of whatever jam or sauce you prefer. The perfect end to a satisfying buffet.
Really. Rainbow cakes make for a really pretty picture.
Another plus for the Tea Lounge: it is not just the food and cozy ambience that makes it pleasant to spend an afternoon there. The staff are pretty amazing as well.
You would expect most hotel staff to be polite, helpful, etc. That is kind of an industry standard, especially amongst the big-name hotels. However, the staff at the Tea Lounge seemed to have taken this standard a step further. Despite a full crowd, the staff did their jobs professionally and cheerfully. Our plates were promptly cleared. They were very quick to arrive whenever we signalled for help. And all this with a smile. In fact, one of their staff (Sheila, I believe) cracked  a joke and made my friend laugh while clearing our plates. I have to say, most hotel staff I've interacted/experienced have been professional, but that level of cheer? Nope, not everyone has it and that makes a huge difference.
What amazed me also, was their level of attentiveness despite a full crowd (with many running children to boot). A couple of them actually noticed what we had on our tables. The few times when they thought our bowls of chilli crab soup was sitting too long on the table, someone walked over and asked if we would like a fresh, hot bowl. When my friend dropped her fork on the floor, one was produced and we hadn't even had to ask for it yet! Ok, to be fair, the wait staff was nearby when he heard the fork drop. Nevertheless, the speed at which he signalled us that he would get a replacement and then deliver it to the table is really worth a mention.
And having been there several times already (even before starting this blog), this service was something that seemed consistent. Its actually what made me decide that I should have a staycation one day at the hotel. Yeah, I told my friends that one weekend, I'm going to check myself in. Then spend the afternoon at the buffet at Tea Lounge and then head back to my room to sleep. The ultimate decadent life.
Staff working at the Tea Lounge, kudos to you guys. You are really a credit to the hotel.