I called in on a Monday afternoon to make a reservation for their "Japanese Afternoon Tea Experience" as advertised on their website. The website indicated that reservations were to be made online, but the portal only provided for half an hour intervals, which was either too early or too late for me. So, I called in and asked clearly for the deal, having to repeat myself several times as the person who answered was obviously Japanese and did not have a good grasp of English.
Come Tuesday afternoon, walked in and informed the first waiter I had a reservation for 2 under my name for the afternoon tea. We were seated and brought the normal a la carte menus. I waved a second waitress over and explained that I had made a reservation for the afternoon tea experience. Again, she did not speak English very well and said that 'there was no afternoon tea', but that she would check. At this point, I was getting a little frustrated, as I have little patience for such trivialities. After some time, a 3rd waitress came by asking if we would like to order. I replied in what must have been an exasperated tone that I had made a reservation for the afternoon tea experience and that she was the 3rd person to have gotten it wrong. She didn't seem to understand either and went off to "check". We waited again and were finally allocated a European waiter (the previous 3 were all Japanese and did not speak English well) who spoke English fluently albeit with a slight accent. He was extremely apologetic and I would say that being served by him outweighed the confusion which was apparent in the other 3.
Funnily, after the incident, none of the Japanese waiters and waitresses seemed interested in serving us. Instead, we were assigned the 2 waiters, the afore mentioned European waiter and a British waitress. Nevertheless, the service provided by these 2 was fantastic. They were extremely polite, offered to move us to a large booth, constantly on the look out for my wanting hot water refills for the tea, so on and so forth. Apparently, the confusion was over the fact that afternoon tea reservations were only to be done online. I was annoyed because I stated clearly over the phone I was making a reservation at a 15 minute interval which was not offered online, and the person on the phone said she understood. When we had arrived asking for the afternoon tea, it was not prepared, as it usually would be. However, every cloud has a silver lining - because it was not prepared before hand, it had to be prepared on the spot as we sat there waiting. It meant that the food was fresh and hot (the tempura).
As usual, with a pair of people dining on afternoon tea, the stack was shared between my friend and I. I was pleased when the waiter introduced each item to us, as is the usual British afternoon tea custom. There was 1 piece of everything for each person. At the top, there was the assorted kakiage: king prawn, scallop(s) (there were 2 scallops inside each tempura, a nice surprise), sweet potato and pumpkin (? cannot recall). There was a tiny bit of ground daikon and an even tinier portion of ground ginger to cleanse the palate, but I felt more could have been given. We were also given our own dishes of tempura dip. The second tier contained 4 pieces of sushi per person: 2 were salmon roll with cream cheese, 1 was a little spicy and I can't recall what the name of it was, and the last one was a soft shell crab sushi. There were also 2 small pieces of tamago for each person as well. Nothing too outstanding, I found the rice to be a little too sticky for my liking. The salmon roll with cream cheese was quite uninspiring as well. The best was the slightly spicy one I had forgotten the name of. The final tier was rather cute: 1 chocolate daifuku, 1 green tea daifuku, 1 slice of green tea mousse cake and 1 custard dorayaki. This tier was a delightful ending to the meal, and I could not find fault with anything here because they happen to be my favorites.
I chose to have soba buckwheat tea, which was extremely fragrant, and I believe I downed 3 teapots of that stuff. It is lighter than your usual genmaicha, green tea and others. My friend had a green tea matcha latte, which she claims tasted better than most she had sampled in London. As usual, I was not convinced I would be full from 'afternoon tea' but I was proven wrong. At a price of 20GBP per person, excluding service, this was a little on the pricey end, but gave you a large variety of things to sample. What seemed like little nibbles filled me up nicely, but perhaps I should give credit to the copious amounts of tea I downed as well.
TL;DR - Good Japanese Afternoon Tea experience. Food seems standard, nothing too outstanding. Tasty little morsels, both savory and sweet (generous with the sweets at the bottom tier!). Cannot say too much about the other food. Outstanding service, provided they understand you well. Would be great to drop by with almost anyone - there were plenty of couples, but this isn't exactly a 'romantic' place, probably a great setting for friends and family. A lady ate solo next to us and seemed quite cheered by the bustling and bright atmosphere. Not too much of a restaurant setting, seemed like a cafe-restaurant. Prices tend to be a little on the steeper end of affordable, but it is good enough for Central London.
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