Update June 2017: This hi-tea buffet is only available on weekends now. Scroll to the bottom for the revised opening hours.
One of the perks of not having to work on a weekday is to be able to enjoy a peaceful afternoon high tea, away from the bustling weekend crowd. I had been to Lao Beijing for their weekend hi-tea buffet 3-4 years back and though the spread wasn’t spectacular, it was good enough for me as it had everything that I wanted. I decided to revisit the restaurant to check out its weekday buffet menu.
Its weekday hi-tea buffet is priced at $13.80++ per adult with more than 20 items to feast on. Click here for the menu. While appetisers, soup, dim sum and desserts were laid out on an unappealing buffet set up for self service, the xiao long bao (steamed meat buns), noodles and dumplings would have to be ordered separately which was good so the latter would be made upon order and served fresh and hot.
This actually tasted more soury than spicy with a strong vinegary flavour but I quite liked it because it could ignite my senses. The textures of the crunchy bamboo shoots and tender shiitake mushrooms made great accompaniments but it would be better if the soup was made less starchy.
The Beijing-style Appetising Cucumber was just standard pickled cucumbers. The Stewed Peanuts were tender and flavourful but still not the best I had. The Sliced Beancurd Skin looked like beef tripe at first glance but I liked its firm and slightly chewy texture which was like eating cuttlefish. The Fried Noodles was average, nothing to rave about.
The sliced pork with garlic sauce was my favourite among all appetisers. Thinly sliced tender pork belly blanched and marinated in a rich, garlicky sauce that wasn’t too overwhelming. Not greasy at all and in fact, the layers of fat on the pork belly tasted crunchy.
The Beijing-style ‘Shao Mai’ was more meaty as compared to the Cantonese ones with more crunch from whole prawns, hence each morsel was quite heavy and dense and I got sick of it just after 1 or 2 pieces. The Special Fried Pancake was a little hard and dry on the outside but the inside was juicy with meat and chives. The rest of the fried items were just greasy and boring so skip them if you can.
One of my long-time favourites because these are cooked in boiling water and are non-greasy. These Beijing-style dumplings had thicker skin as compared to our local wantons or sui kows but I loved the combination of the pork and cabbage filling which was well marinated. I would dip each jiao zi into black vinegar and eat with shredded ginger. Heavenly.
Their Xiao Long Bao were made to order so you’d have to wait for this to be served. But it was worth it because these buns were steaming hot when they arrived on my table and it was just a joy to see how much meat juice each parcel contained. It would ooze liquid with each bite. Delicious.
I picked the same flavour of pork and cabbage for my pot-stickers as I’m not a big fan of chives. These were like the jiao zi earlier except that they had been briefly pan-fried for a crispy brown crust on the bottom.
Their Zha Jiang Mian was another must-try dish that came with nicely blanched noodles and a salty, savoury minced meat sauce with julienned cucumber.
Moving on to desserts, they only had one hot and one cold dessert. The black sesame paste was smooth, silky and fragrant but it was a little too sweet for me.
I liked this better as it was chilled and cooling. The canned longans were crunchy and sweet and the almond tofu had a nice firm texture like agar agar. These were bathed in a sugar syrup (from the canned fruits) diluted with water so shouldn’t go wrong.
While the high tea buffet wasn’t spectacular, it was still a decent meal for the price paid. It’s just affordably cheap. The LBJ outlet at Orchard Central offers lunch and dinner buffets too so that might be something new to check out next time.
Velocity @ Novena Square
238 Thomson Road
Tel: 6358 4466
Lunch: 11.30am – 3.00pm (last order 2.30pm)
Dinner: 5.30pm – 10.00pm (last order 9.30pm)
Sat, Sun & PH
Lunch: 11.00am – 3.00pm (last order 2.30pm)
Hi-Tea: 3.00pm – 5.00pm (last order 4.45pm)
Dinner: 6.00pm – 10.00pm (last order 9.30pm)