Dainty bites in pink and red

THERE was a collective sigh as the afternoon tea tray of perfect delights was presented at the table.

The petite servings of finger sandwiches and delicate pastries, all tinted a blushing pink and vibrant red, were an indulgence as we sampled the latest offering by Mandarin Oriental, Kuala Lumpur.

The Chitose Strawberry Afternoon Tea, served at Lounge on the Park, aims to highlight the sweetness and versatility of Chitose strawberries.

These Japanese strawberries are not imported but instead cultivated in Malaysia by Chitose Agri Laboratory for the past four years.

Operating within a 1.5ha private farm in Cameron Highlands, Chitose currently stands as the only farm that grows and sells Japanese strawberries in the country.

The company’s chief technology officer Noriaki Kawai said unlike other imported strawberries, this variety is sweeter and has a slightly firm bite.

With over 200 varieties of strawberries, the ones produced here are of the Akihime variety.

This Chitose Strawberry Afternoon Tea set comes with a  generous  selection of sweet and savoury treats, as well as two types of scones. — SIA HONG KIAU/The StarThis Chitose Strawberry Afternoon Tea set comes with a generous selection of sweet and savoury treats, as well as two types of scones. — SIA HONG KIAU/The Star

“These are quite delicate fruits and they may not survive the journey if they are exported.

“Climate and farming technique are vital when it comes to cultivating this fruit. The stable, cool temperatures in Cameron Highlands means that we are able to produce strawberries all year round, ” Kawai explained.

The afternoon tea set sees the Chitose strawberries incorporated into an array of sweet bites such as strawberry tarts, strawberry cheesecakes and strawberry macarons. The savoury sandwiches are also infused with the strawberries.

High-tea classics such as plain and raisin scones with clotted cream and home-made strawberry jam round up the offerings.

Starting from the lower tier, we tried the savoury option of Grilled Tuna with balsamic mayonnaise and strawberry “caviar”.

The bursts of sweetness from the strawberry beads complemented the light smokiness of the fish without overpowering either ingredient.

A personal favourite was the Bresaola tortellini stuffed with caramelised onion on strawberry carpaccio.

The combination of salty Bresaola (raw cured beef) and tart fruit may take a leap of imagination, but it works extremely well.

Other savoury treats to look forward to include strawberry bruschetta with ricotta cheese and balsamic reduction as well as the Chinese roasted chicken with spicy tomato-strawberry relish and five spice bread.

Moving on to the sweets and pastries, the Strawberry Tart was an absolute delight.

I thoroughly enjoyed the firm crust filled with cream and topped with fresh strawberries and slightly sweet glaze.

This allowed the fruit to be showcased while giving other flavours a chance to shine through. My only gripe was that there weren’t more of this sweet treat!

A more concentrated form of the strawberries was in the vanilla and strawberry chiffon roulade where home-made strawberry jam was layered in between a rolled chiffon cake.

The jam was absorbed into the light and airy cake, while the vanilla gave an earthiness to the dessert.

Other desserts include strawberry cheesecake, strawberry macaron, strawberry chocolate mille-feuille, red velvet strawberry mousse and strawberry consomme jelly.

Save the fresh Chitose strawberries until the end for that extra memorable experience.

Overall, the savoury is balanced with the sweet.

It can be enjoyed even by those without a sweet tooth as nothing was overly cloying or sugary.

The Chitose Strawberry Afternoon Tea is available until Sept 30 and priced at RM158 nett per person.

Each set is inclusive of free flow of hot beverages up to two hours and is served from 2.30pm until 6pm.

LOUNGE ON THE PARK, Mandarin Oriental Kuala Lumpur, Kuala Lumpur City Centre. (Tel: 03-2330 8798) Business hours: 10am - 10pm, daily. Pork-free.

This is the writer’s observation and not an endorsement by StarMetro.

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