Saturday, February 6, 2016

Afternoon Tea at the Lobby Lounge & Bar, Ritz-Carlton Tokyo

Our December afternoon tea session was at the Lobby Lounge & Bar, on the 45th floor of the Ritz-Carlton Tokyo inside the Midtown Tower, Roppongi (well, Akasaka actually...).

This one was another maze of a hotel entrance. We walked around for quite a while before going through two narrow hallways just to the elevators. Perhaps this was designed to keep us riffraffs out? Ha.

The hotel lobby was on the 45th floor with very high ceiling, which I really enjoyed. The huge Christmas tree made the atmosphere festive, and the killer view didn't hurt either.



Of course we didn't get the window seat. There were 6 of us and window tables were only for parties of up to 4. Thankfully, we came early and snuck a few photos by an unseated window table.

Christmas tree photo-op ^.^

I was surprised that the tea selection was rather small, only 12 choices of traditional black, flavored, and herbal. There was a strawberry champagne tea that was spectacular. I wanted to buy some but was told it's only available in tea bags and not loose leaf. Boo. Hiss. 

They accommodated one of us who's sort of the opposite of a pescatarian, as in she doesn't eat a lick of anything that crawls out of the sea. So for herself she got a whole small platter, the silver one on the second row there.


I found it odd that despite being able to pick any tea and get unlimited refills, they didn't actually give us a pot of the tea we chose. Instead, in the back there was a long table full of huge pots of various teas. Each time someone requested a tea, they would bring the pot over and pour that person a cup. This meant everyone in that whole Lobby Lounge who was having afternoon tea was dependent on the waitstaff to pour their every cup. This inevitably lead to many a cup sitting empty for a long time because there was only so many of the waitstaff versus diners. I couldn't quite figure out their logic there. Did they not have enough tea pots for everyone? Did they want to save on the teas?


However, I did like that our 3-tier trays had 2 plates of savories (versus 2 plates of sweets at the Mandarin Oriental). The savories were creative and delicious too, not just the usual cucumber sandwich.


The scones were served separately on their own plate, and each person got a tray of lemon curd, a mini jar of honey, and a choice of jam. Hubby and I didn't open our honey. We took them home as souvenirs instead ^.^



The sweets were good, but not as delicate as those from the Mandarin Oriental. Overall, the experience was great, but we still liked the Mandarin Oriental better :P

On our way out, the area right outside the gift shop stopped us--a dense fog of chocolate permeated the entire place! After looking around all puzzled, we realized it was this Christmas tree that reeked of chocolate. Upon closer inspection, we saw why: the whole tree was covered in chocolate! No, not chocolate ornaments, chocolate! As in, it was dipped in chocolate. Yes, folks, as if cutting down a damn tree isn't enough, they had to freakin' dip it into chocolate, all for a month's display! Talk about crazy and wasteful!


A few nights later, someone thought it was a good idea to return to this lounge for a few drinks, because we'd had a grand time before getting drinks at other afternoon tea venues, the New York Bar, the Oriental Lounge, etc., so why not here too? It seemed like a nice place for drinks.

Turns out that was the worst idea. Ever. Because after 8PM, the lounge charges a cover charge of 2,500yen ($20) per person, all for the privilege of $20 gin and tonic, $30 whiskey on the rock, $16 creme brulee, $15 pot of tea, and something else I must have blocked out of my memory because it was just that painful.



You may be inclined to think a $20 cover for live lounge music is pretty steep but understandable. But that was precisely the problem, the lounge music, the salt in our wound. They must have plucked some hapless chap on the street, pumped him full of alcohol and shoved him on stage, because he was worse than a drunk on karaoke adrenaline. In fact, his crooning was so unbearable we couldn't even last an hour!

In all, the four of us coughed up $200 for one drink each and about 50 minutes of emotional, psychological, and mental torture. My advice? Sure, do the afternoon tea, it was pretty decent. And hell, try an overpriced drink or two if you want. Just get the hell out before 8PM or you will pay, quite literally.

16 comments:

Julia said...

Oh! I was at the Ritz Carlton Roppongi for a friend's wedding last Halloween, and I remember they accomodated my vegetarian diet pretty well. I wonder how it would go that I'm half-vegan...
The hotel is a maze, we almost didn't find out anymore. Also, what the hell is up with a chocolate tree???

D. said...

Hi Julia,

LOL what is "half-vegan"? xD

Yes, unfortunately I find many big buildings around here maze-like, and I don't know if that's to test the rat in us or what, to see if we could find our way to the cheese? Counter-intuitiveness is a sign of bad design, and yet it's so prevalent in a city with a reputation for futuristic technology and creativity. I just don't get it! Gah!

>.<"
D.

Julia said...

Cheese is a good cue-word. XD I want to stop consuming dairy for a while because all the hormones may be troubling my body, and doctors are really unhelpful. I still eat eggs, though not a lot and only free-range etc. I'm also baking vegan lately because I found some great recipes and I felt bad for my vegan colleague when everyone brought their buttery cakes to work. Actually, I find a lot of Taiwanese cuisine in Tokyo (I think I mentioned a couple of places to you?) does eggs, but no dairy, so I should maybe just adopt their style of cooking.

Seriously, Tokyo is a maze. I wonder how people ever got anywhere before Google Maps.

D. said...

Yes, thank goodness for Google maps!!!

Whaa...Taiwanese places?! No, you haven't mentioned them!!! Please tell me tell me tell me!!!

Although I do admit I love butter... -.-"

D.

Julia said...

There's the Korinbo in Nakano, a tiny place with excellent food. My boyfriend took me there twice and last year, I went with his mother, which made for a really fun episode. ^^; The Taiwanese lady runs it all by herself and lectures you while you eat, but holy turtle, the food is amazing.

D. said...

LOL You don't know how much I'm willing to put up with for amazing food. Will definitely look up this place! Thanks so much Julia!!!

Cheers,
D.

Julia said...

Oh, she's not mean or anything. It was just super awkward because I was there with boyfriend's mother and sister, which prompted the old lady to ask if that means we're getting married just as I was stuffing my face. At least I can pretend my face got red because I almost choked on my food!

D. said...

Haha I know what you mean. My mom does that to me. She'd ask the most private and humiliating questions in front of other people and in public. May be that's just the Asian aunty thing... =.="

Julia said...

It really seems like it. Although Japanese ojisan can be like that, too. I have this one guy at work who asked if I'm not getting married yet, shouldn't I hurry up etc. (he's 15 years older than me and not married), and told my boyfriend the first time he met him to better break up with me if he didn't intend to marry me. O.o

D. said...

Oh goodness gracious, there goes that stereotype of Japanese-people-are-direct-and-super-polite >.<" Did you tell him it was none of his beeswax?

Julia said...

He outranks me, unfortunately, and no one cares about harrassment here... I so wanted to, though!

Shirayuki said...

Pretty steep price for that! I think the Mandarin Oriental looked better. I still want to try the Ritz-Carlton high tea in SF. Tried Rotunda in Neiman Marcus and loved it!

D. said...

Hi Julia,

That's terrible. Sorry you had to put up with that crap! I hope it doesn't happen often :(

D. said...

Hi Shirayuki,

The Mandarin Oriental is totally better! You should try it!

I've had the afternoon tea at the Rotunda in Neiman Marcus SF too but didn't know the Ritz-Carlton there did tea also. I'll definitely try it the next time I'm in SF.

Cheers,
D.

Julia said...

Too often for my liking, but it will give me great material if I'll ever write a book!

D. said...

Hi Julia,

Sorry to hear that. But hey, what's stopping you from writing that book now? I'd totally write it if I were you!

^.^
D.

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