This was my first time visiting the Kai Mayfair restaurant in the heart of London, which has honourably claimed the single Michelin-star since 2009. Although Kai is a fine-dining Chinese restaurant with Liberated Nanyang Cooking style, its dishes are far from traditional. Foods and drinks offering from Kai are the perfect combination of strong South East Asia influence and creative European ideas, resulting in some of the most contemporary Chinese cuisines you can find in London. All of these elements make Asian cuisine easier to conquer the taste of Westerners.
I got the recommendation from my friend to visit Kai for indulging the special Chinese Afternoon Tea, mysteriously and gorgeously named as “The Chinese Whispers Afternoon Tea”.
Michelin-starred Kai Mayfair’s Chinese Whispers Afternoon Tea brings the mood for a relaxed and intimate chat where a small group of friends can share juicy pieces of gossip along with gourmet sweets. Especially, the afternoon tea experience offering from Kai is the infusion of your favourite social meetups with the energising flavour of a faraway Eastern haven… Here’s where songbirds sing, Mah Jong tiles chatter, and your secrets are free to whisper in the breeze.
As expected of the Michelin-starred Afternoon Tea, all arrangements of this tea party, from start to finish, is truly exquisite and nuanced. The food and tea menu are beautifully designed, attached in the novel “Rich People Problem” by writer Kevin Kwan – the father of the top-selling “Crazy Rich Asians”. On the table, there is a box carrying 4 traditional brown ceramic teapots with sample of premium loose leaf tea types that customers can smell and see the tea they would love to pair with the Afternoon tea. Most of the tea menu are green tea and oolong tea, supplied by the high-end tea company Jing Tea London. Phoenix Honey Orchids Oolong and Organic Jade Sword Green Tea are the two teas I chose to pair with the food and cake. From my perspective, the taste of oolong tea is extremely delicate, with a hint of sweetness from honey and the aroma of orchids. The oxidation level of Phoenix Honey Orchids Oolong is 40%, which perfectly match with the pastries. Meanwhile, Jade Sword tea has an explosive flavour of the premium green tea harvested in spring, with an oxidation of 0%. It is pleasant and sweet in taste, but the umami offering is extremely suitable to pair with savoury dishes.
Worthy of a prestigious Michelin star, Kai Mayfair’s Afternoon Tea really brought my taste buds from surprise to surprise. Not really British traditions, but not pure Chinese cuisine either. Start with 3 types of in-house aperitifs, using mineral water imported from Sweden, including: Jasmine Sparkling, Hibiscus Green Tea and Lemongrass White Tea with 5% alcohol. Diving into the “Jar of Whispers and Conversations” – a glass jar of Long Jing green tea with green tea cookies and questions printed on the edible rice papers – for thought-provoking conversation starters that will really get you talking. Starting with Chinese-inspired savoury snacks, including Bao with Crispy Duck and Chinese Tea Egg, and Potion of ‘Eternal Youth’ – a mini bottle of Chinese ‘essence’
tonics with anti-aging properties,… those savouries really surprised me, and it felt like my taste buds were exploding from all the complex flavours they had to offer.
The sweet treats are extremely delicious and delightful, combined with common Asian ingredients such as coconut milk and pandan leaves, which gives me a glimpse of childhood sweets. My most favourite cake is the pandan crème brulé, which is surprisingly delicious with a superb smooth texture. Inspiringly, this was a very first time I indulge Willy Wong’s ‘Apothecary Macaroons’ with Clotted Cream – A playful recollection of memories from visiting traditional Chinese medicine shops filled with vials of mysterious fragrant powders, guarded by the masters who blended them together
to create remedies. Customers can freely play with ‘Blue and White China’ Macaroon shells, clotted cream, fruit essences & powders, toppings & condiments for the creation of their own secret combination of flavours.
After the sumptuous the afternoon tea, the waitress gently came and reminded me to write my name on the belly of songbird and then hang it on any tree or birdcage around the restaurant.
Afternoon tea priced at £46/ person excluding service charge, which is reasonable compared to high-end tea rooms in London. Once you come to London, this is one of London’s best restaurants you should not miss out.
Take tea moment with your close friends and spill your stories and secrets. Visit Kai Mayfair’s website for further information and making a reservation.