Park Hyatt Siem Reap’s elegant new Living Room is the perfect setting for that most refined of rituals, the afternoon tea. Retaining some of the traditional components of high tea but adding a contemporary twist, Hyatt’s plentiful feast is served daily between 2-5pm.
“Our high tea is a bit different,” says public relations manager Daisy Walsh. “I feel it’s maybe not as traditional. The pastries are amazing, but I don’t think it’s your typical high tea. You could say it’s more modern, more contemporary, but it works.”
Devised by Hyatt executive sous chef Martin Robl, the tea is divided into three sections; ‘warm’, ‘sandwiches’ and ‘sweets’. The warm selection has been given something of an Asian flavour comprising crispy crab cake, and chicken curry puffs as well as a delicious take on the quiche Lorraine – a bite-sized bacon, spinach and ricotta quiche.
“It’s a mix of different things you’d like to eat,” says Robl, “Something small in the afternoon. We have some Khmer influence like the spring rolls, and we also have some Indian flavours with the puffs and crab cakes. We have French quiche, which reflects the Provencal theme we have everywhere in the restaurant.”
The tea snob in Insider couldn’t help being mildly disappointed not to see cucumber sandwiches in the sandwich section, but with three different sarnies including smoked trout mini baguette and chicken finger sandwiches plus rice paper rolls, diners can be sure not to go hungry.
Last and by no means least is the pièce de la résistance of any afternoon tea, the sweet section. Miniature chocolate brownies sit alongside small fruit tartlets and wonderfully light and chewy strawberry macaroons. There is also banana cake, pandan crème brulee, and a basket of miniature warm scones.
In a departure from the norm that some traditionalists (regretfully, your British reporter included) might find controversial, these sweet treats are served with cream flavoured with orange in place of clotted cream, plus a choice of strawberry or coconut jam.
Director of sales and marketing Sarah Moya says that with a British general manager, Sholto Smith, afternoon tea was never going to be taken lightly.
“He loves high tea,” she says. “We’ve been developing our pastry section and what they do is a mix. It’s really a taster, but it’s quite sumptuous in a way.”
She adds that two of Hyatt’s best regional chefs – one of them an award-winning pastry chef – were on board to advise on both the Glasshouse and the components of the high tea.
“What is good is that Martin is really understanding of what is available locally, and has been really good at embracing the culinary conditions of Cambodia,” she says. “The idea was to present something that has a regional and Asian flavour, along with traditional high tea items.”
Moya says that Hyatt also plans to instigate a ‘recommended read,’ where tea-takers can combine their afternoon grazing with a good book.
“We wanted to do something thematic where you’ve got a recommended read and we would like to have, for instance, an expert in the subject of the book that we’re featuring,” she says. “The Living Room is very much a living room, with books and all, so we want that to be really a part of the high tea.”
The afternoon tea costs $25 a head and is filling enough to double up as lunch. For a more decadent version, a glass of champagne can be added for $33.