Xi Shi Lounge (Shangri-La Hotel) – Chinese New Year Afternoon Tea

Restaurant: Xi Shi Lounge – Chinese New Year Afternoon Tea
Cuisine: Tea/Pacific Northwest/West Coast/Fusion/Desserts
Last visited: February 4, 2014
Location: Vancouver, BC (Downtown)
Phone: (604) 689-1120
Address: 1128 West Georgia Street (At Shangri-La Hotel)
Subway stop: Burrard
Price Range: $20-30+ ($38 Afternoon Tea)

1Poor 2OK 3Good 4Very good 5Excellent 6FMF Must Try!

Food: 3.5 (for Chinese New Year Afternoon Tea) 
Service: n/a
Ambiance: 5
Overall: 4
Additional comments:

  • Inside Shangri-La Hotel
  • Euro-Asian/Fusion menu
  • Tearoom/Lounge/Restaurant
  • Aafternoon Tea Service
  • Lunch service
  • Stylish/sophisticated
  • Pre/post dinner spot

**Recommendations: Chinese New Year Afternoon Tea runs for the month of February. It is available daily from 11:30 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. for CAD$38 per person. Complimentary for those born the year of the horse providing another Afternoon Tea is purchased (buy one get one complimentary).

Xi Shi Lounge - Chinese New Year Afternoon Tea 14Changing it up once again! The last time I was here was for their 1,001 Nights Middle Eastern Afternoon Tea, which was an alternative to Christmas celebrations happening around the city. Come February where most places are gearing up for Valentine’s Day, Xi Shi Lounge is walking their own path once again. However it’s not too surprising they would do something to welcome Chinese New Year, considering the lounge is Chinese inspired to start. So reuniting with their roots, Xi Shi Lounge is offering a Chinese New Year Afternoon Tea for the month of February, and everyone year of the horse can enjoy it complimentary (with a purchase of a regular priced Chinese New Year Afternoon Tea – $38).

To enhance the experience, their regular live pianist will be temporarily replaced with Zhimin Yu playing the ruan (Chinese guitar) and Qiu Xia He playing the pipa (Chinese flute) later on in the month. The special Chinese entertainment is available all February from Monday to Wednesday, 3 pm – 5 pm.

I was invited for the experience, but this was not my first time trying their Chinese New Year Tea Service. I actually attended the one a couple years ago – see their Chinese New Year Afternoon Tea in 2012. Compared to this year it was less Chinese inspired and I was hoping for more Chinese influences. It was still enjoyable and good value considering the ambiance, but it was more about the experience.

Nonetheless it’s nice to see them constantly bring new ideas to the table. The 1,001 Nights Middle Eastern Afternoon Tea was a lot of effort so after that this might seem toned down, but I’d still recommend it as a classy February event worth trying out.

On the table:

Xi Shi Lounge - Chinese New Year Afternoon Tea 03Chinese New Year Afternoon Tea – 3.5/6 (Good-Very good)

  • Available daily from 11:30 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. for CAD$38 per person until Feb. 28, 2014.
  • Complimentary for those born the year of the horse providing another Afternoon Tea is purchased (buy one get one complimentary).

Xi Shi Lounge - Chinese New Year Afternoon Tea 02Signature Jasmine Blossoming Tea

  • +$5
  • This is an additional $5, but don’t feel obligated to order it because their regular tea menu is excellent as well.
  • The changed the cups to dim sum tea cups, but usually they have fine China teacups with beautiful patterns.

Xi Shi Lounge - Chinese New Year Afternoon Tea 08BBQ Pork Brioche Buns – 2/6 (Okay)

  • They were little sliders, but I wish they came out hot rather than room temperature.
  • The brioche buns were dry, but the diced sweet and savoury BBQ pork was fine and there was some crunch from shredded siu choy (Chinese napa cabbage).
  • They were what they were, but I couldn’t help but to crave one of my favourite dim sum items after – see Baked BBQ Pork Bun from Top Gun J&C.
  • I can’t compare, but it’s hard not to.

Curried Tofu Wrap 3/6 (Good)

  • These were good, but I didn’t get Chinese or Asian inspired from them.
  • Their regular Afternoon Tea usually comes with some sort of wrap.
  • The chilled tofu salad stuffing was made with diced tofu puffs, almonds, julienne mango and cilantro.
  • I’m pretty sure they were green mango because they weren’t sweet and had a firm texture and crunch.
  • The seasoning was the yellow curry powder and mayo dressing.
  • It was pretty much the vegetarian version of curried chicken and almond wraps.
  • The stuffing has good textures, but it squishes out the ends so be careful.

Xi Shi Lounge - Chinese New Year Afternoon Tea 05Smoked Salmon Bagel – 2.5/6 (Okay-Good)

  • These are on their regular Afternoon Tea menu, but they changed it up by adding yuzu mayo.
  • I couldn’t taste the yuzu mayo much so it just seemed like a normal smoked salmon bagel.
  • It was what it was, but I would have loved this to be their Steelhead Sashimi on Crispy Rice (you can order this a la carte).
  • It might be more Japanese, but it’s more Asian than a smoked salmon bagel.

Crispy Duck Spring Rolls – 3.5/6 (Good-Very good)

  • These were probably my favourite out of the savoury bites.
  • They were a tad oily from being deep fried, but not much more than what was expected.
  • They were crispy and well stuffed with sweet moist duck, carrots, and daikon.

Xi Shi Lounge - Chinese New Year Afternoon Tea 09Signature Scones – 5/6 (Excellent)

  • Orange and plain
  • These are standard from their regular Afternoon Tea menu and I love them! The only difference was the orange scone which is usually raisin.
  • They were very buttery, without being oily, flaky, moist, and served warm.
  • The exterior was all crisp like a cookie and they must be brushed all around with butter.
  • They were a little savoury and a little sweet and the orange scone was aromatic and fresh with orange zest which I liked.
  • I liked how they changed it up with an orange scone to suit the theme. It was that little extra effort I appreciate.
  • Orange and anise scones would have been great too, but I understand needing to cater to majority palates.

Xi Shi Lounge - Chinese New Year Afternoon Tea 04Selection of house made jams (strawberry and marmalade), clotted home made cream

Xi Shi Lounge - Chinese New Year Afternoon Tea 11The sweet tier was the most Chinese inspired plate, however I wish they didn’t serve items on it that should have been served hot. After enjoying the savoury plates and scones the desserts were cold. Mind you they are still good room temperature, but they are best when warm (with the exception of the cake). 

Chinese are not known for their desserts, so it’s almost the most challenging tier, but I found it embraced the theme which I wanted and appreciated.

Green Tea Opera Cake – 4/6 (Very Good)

  • Again, not quite Chinese, but good enough that you can overlook it and not care.
  • I wanted a whole slab of this. I naturally prefer European desserts over Chinese desserts, so this was my favourite.
  • It has great texture with my favourite crispy feuillantine layer giving it a delicate crunch.
  • I could tell it was pre made which is fine (most are), but the layers weren’t as well excited and it was rough around the edges.
  • It looked dried out, but you couldn’t tell when you ate it and there was a good balance of matcha and chocolate. 
  • I think there could have been a hazelnut chocolate layer too.
  • There was green tea mousse, green tea almond sponge cake and I think green tea buttercream topped with milk chocolate ganache.
  • If you like this I also recommend the Green Tea Opera Cake at Miku or Minami.

Coconut Rice Cake – 4/6 (Very good)

  • This is sourced from St. Germain’s Bakery which I don’t mind since it’s an art to make it. St. Germain’s is also an excellent Chinese bakery.
  • If you’ve never tried it, it’s probably just okay, but in the context of all coconut rice cakes, this was considered very good.
  • This is a very traditional Chinese New Year dessert and it’s symbolic for growth and prosperity.
  • It literally translates to “higher year” if you change the tone of how to say it in Chinese a bit.
  • It’s a chewy “cake” made from glutinous rice flour and it’s lightly dipped in egg before being pan fried on both sides.
  • It should have a soft, chewy and sticky texture which is typically undesirable for Western palates, but I enjoy it.
  • The coconut flavour was quite mild, but the “cake” was good.
  • It’s not too sweet, but the texture is acquired for Western palates.
  • Keep in mind it’s not an actual “cake”, so don’t think in the context of Western/European ideas of cake.

Egg Tarts – 3/6 (Good)

  • They made these in house which was quite admirable and they were good.
  • The tart was made from their usual shortbread crust so it was cookie like and crunchy rather than flaky.
  • If you’ve had them before you already know your favourite place for them, but these were still fine.

Xi Shi Lounge - Chinese New Year Afternoon Tea 03Black Sesame Dumplings Ginger Syrup (Tong Yuan)3.5/6 (Good-Very good)

  • The dumpling is in the tea cup on the right of the tier.
  • Again, this depends on whether you’ve tried it.
  • If it’s your first time the texture might be a bit acquired, but if you’ve had it before you know what to expect.
  • I used to not like them when I was a kid, but now I like them.
  • It’s a traditional Chinese New Year dessert, but it’s also seen throughout the year as a dessert.
  • It was a standard black sesame dumpling which you can buy at the local Chinese supermarket. Chinese restaurants get it from here too.
  • It’s really hard to make from scratch so it’s perfectly acceptable and expected to buy them frozen.
  • The dumpling skin is soft, thick and chewy and made from glutinous rice flour again.
  • The inside is filled with a sweet, rich, and creamy smooth black sesame paste which just oozes out of the skin once you bite into it.
  • Traditionally it is served in hot ginger syrup-water broth and this wasn’t too sweet. The ginger was subtle and I liked it.
  • I wish they brought it out at the very end though after I had the top dessert tier.
  • It is best enjoyed hot, so many would naturally eat it last.

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