Apr 2008

Afternoon Tea at the Park Hyatt Saigon

April 5, 2008
Cuisine: English, Vietnamese, Dessert

Park Hyatt Saigon
2 Lam Son Square, District 1, HCMC

Website: www.saigon.park.hyatt.com
Phone: 84 8 824 1234


Lemongrass and Peppermint Tea


Vietnamese Savories


Classic Tea Sandwiches


French Pastries

Afternoon tea has recently joined running, The Astronomer and the Travel and Living channel as one of my favorite pastimes. After a wonderful tea experience at the Caravelle Hotel when Lush was in town, I was extremely excited to tea once again.

The Park Hyatt’s afternoon tea ($8 per person) is held on the first floor of the hotel in the lobby lounge area. The space is dimly lit and richly decorated with dark wood and leather furniture. The overall vibe is classy, but perhaps a little too sophisticated and “old money” for my taste.

According to the lounge menu, afternoon tea consists of Vietnamese savories and French pastries. Although I prefer traditional offerings at tea time (i.e. little crust-less sandwiches), I arrived open-minded since this is the nicest hotel in town.

Our lemongrass and peppermint teas were presented in elaborately etched silver pots. My lemongrass tea tasted like a bowl of Tom Yum Goong soup, minus the spicy factor, while The Astronomer’s peppermint tea tasted like a candy cane, minus the high fructose corn syrup. The little shortbread cookie placed alongside our cups was buttery, crunchy and left us wanting a few more.

Our tea-time spread soon arrived on a wood-framed, three-tiered display rack. Is it just Saigon, or is afternoon tea always served on a multi-tiered display rack? Please explain.


Feeling a bit uncreative, The Astronomer and I decided to start at the top and work our way down. The top tier consisted of Vietnamese savories, i.e. cha gio with nuoc mam and goi cuon with tuong. One of the cha gio was overcooked and bursting at the seams, while the other was in tip top shape. The Astronomer was quite the gentleman and offered me the pristine one, while he ate the ugly one. We both agreed that the cha gio was quite good, but it was strange just eating one. Cha gio are like Pringles, once you pop, you just can’t stop.

We were impressed that each of the tiny goi cuon contained two good-sized shrimps. Other than that notable aspect, they were fairly run of the mill.

The middle tier contained a selection of classic tea time sandwiches—ham, tomato and cheese, smoked salmon and cucumber, and egg salad. These weren’t advertised on the bill of fare and were a pleasant surprise. The sandwiches were fine, but unspectacular. Even the smoked salmon, my usual favorite, was a letdown.

The bottom dessert tier offered a mini lemon meringue tart, chocolate éclair, lemon and raspberry cake, chocolate financier cake and a vanilla napoleon. Our favorites were the lemon meringue tart and lemon and raspberry cake. The vanilla napoleon was so rich and buttery that I found it sadly inedible.

If you’re in Saigon and want to experience afternoon tea in a hoity-toity space with so-so selections, the Park Hyatt lounge is the place to be. If you’re in Saigon and want to play pretend British, go to the Caravelle.

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15 thoughts on “Afternoon Tea at the Park Hyatt Saigon

  1. I believe high tea, or afternoon tea in hotels is ‘mostly’ always served in a 3-tiered rack. I few hotels I used to work for do that, and they are in Australia.
    I actually prefer high tea with those fluffy scones with fresh creams, this combination is a bit weird…

  2. i’ve been to high/afternoon tea a couple of times and each time (at different hotels), they served the food on a three-tiered tray. i kind of like the mix of vietnamese and french pastries – tres (cute) creative (lol).

    PS: you described your tea (which didn’t sound very good), but did you enjoy it?

  3. While the (English) high tea ceremony I experienced was served on a three tier rack, it was sadly lacking delicious Vietnamese savories. This is clearly a superior version.

  4. Hahaha… Wandering Chopsticks, you are the best! I love it!!!

    Gastronomy – I love your blog. I check it at least once a day to make sure I’m not missing anything =)

    Fancy tea served with fancy sandwiches? Sorry not my cup of tea =) I only made these to impress guest but never really emjoyed it. Street food is where it’s at!! I’m not sure if they serve it anywhere in Vietnam, but my Mom taught me a really cute version of these, puff pastry with smoke salmon and dill. When we were in Vietnam, she would make this with grilled chicken or something like that. It knocks your socks off.

  5. What a life you’re living! I envy you. I wonder if you’ve tried “tra` Cung Di`nh” before? it’s a form of chinese tea mixing with medicine herbs. Supposedly it’s good for your well being and they try to make it enjoyable with sugar and cookies. The teahouses are usually set up as a relaxing and comfortable environment. Very good if you want to have a great conversation with someone.

  6. when I was in Dublin, tea time was 4PM. It usually served with finger food. In California, we usually have “long-island-tea-time”. And no… we would never eat finger food. in other words, in California we live large eat big and drink “hard tea”. Your tea is macer in comparison . :))

  7. I must take full responsibility for the misspelling that ignited the discussion above. I often serve as the final editor for the Gastronomer’s posts (and she for mine), and, although my learning curve for foods has far surpassed my general vocabulary, I still make mistakes in tieng Viet once in a while.

    I’m aware that “thuong” can mean “like/love” and “often/normal” (and also, according to vdict.com, “to reward”, and “spade”), but then “tuong” can mean “sort/kind”, “wall”, “to think”, “general”, and “statue”, so that didn’t really clue me in that something wasn’t right.

    Another topic for discussion: my Vietnamese teacher told me that “nuoc tuong” generally refers to soy sauce, while “tuong” is hoisin sauce. However, the Gastronomer grew up calling them both “nuoc tuong.” Opinions on the most common usage?

    WC–thanks for throwing the smack down. Very enjoyable 🙂

    One good thing that’s come out of this: it’s been a year since we’ve gotten so many comments for a non-Vietnamese food post!

  8. Vivian – Thanks for the insights. I prefer clotted cream and scones as well, but wanted to give the Park Hyatt a chance. Vietnamese savories are best left to non-tea occasions.

    Duy – In the words of my favorite gossiper: Sit Down!

    quyenann – About the lemongrass tea, I TOTALLY dug it. It was very good and very different.

    Jess – It’s good to know that multi tiered serving racks are authentically British! I would have never guessed…

    WC – You’re BOMB. And I thuong you too! England, Scotland, and Ireland? Man, you’ve been around the block. I hope to tea everywhere from now on.

    thateatconomist – While I love street food best, exploring the swankier side of Saigon has also been pretty darn fun. Saigon’s got everything!

    Michelle – Did someone say “puff pastry with smoke salmon and dill?” That sounds awesome. DO share your recipe!

    Hien – I have not tried that type of tea, but then again, I’m not really one of those people who consume foods/drinks for medicinal purposes. However, I have been to a tea house and had a lot of fun.

    Bern – I’m such a light weight these days that half a Long Island Iced Tea would probably get me wasted. Back in the day when I was a rowdy college kid, this was my drink of choice.

    Astronomer – I can’t believe you don’t know the difference between love and hoisin. Tsk tsk…

  9. Gastronomer: Just thought you could make an interesting post on it. The menu is very interesting itself. Trust me!

  10. wow, an etiquette smack-down, that was really cool guys! I’ve only been to a few high teas and they all stayed pretty true to the british version, I love the inclusion of the fried rolls, sounds yummy!

  11. Wow, I didn’t view this post earlier b/c I’m here mainly for the street food also. And to think that I could have missed out on such a spirited discussion! 🙂 For me, tương simply means sauce.

    tương ớt = chili sauce
    tương ăn phở = hoisin sauce (VNmease usage)
    nước tương = seasoning sauce (particularly Maggi Seasoning Sauce)
    xì dầu = soy sauce
    nước chấm = general dipping sauce in VNmese cuisine whether be made with fish sauce, seasoning sauce or hoisin sauce.

    I think the reason for the confusion is because Maggi Seasoning Sauce is extremely popular in Vietnamese cuisine and it is somewhat similar to soy sauce (although the only soy in it is hydrolyzed soy protein).

    That’s my two cents! Cheers! 🙂

  12. Truly I envy the heavenly description of teatime in Vietnam. The menage a tois of Viet, French, and English food items brought together in an elegant and simple tiffin make the senses swirl in delight.

    Here in South Florida the afternoon tea at home or in a few public places always seems to lack something. Perhaps it is the ambience of South East Asia that is missing.

    Your mention of a chocolate box filled with lemon curd sparked off a quest to taste within me. I will not rest until I am able to sample same. Thank you for this wonderful article.

    Burton Dale
    West Palm Beach, Florida

  13. Nov. 21, 2009- Just wanted to let you know that the Park Hyatt’s Afternoon Tea is Mon.-Thurs and Sat.& Sun. It now costs $9.00 per person. On Fridays only, they serve an Afternoon Tea Buffet which is around 300,000+ VND or around $15.00 per person. You can taste an assortment of cheeses, small sandwiches (they’re a bit too big to be ‘tea sandwiches’) and cake and pastries. Friday is the only day that you can have scones.
    It is the only afternoon tea that I am willing to recommend at this time due to the care they take with their recipes and service. Sofitel’s hotel no longer serves afternoon tea.

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