Luxurious Dim Sum Afternoon Tea at La Chine at Waldorf Astoria (NYC)
La Chine at the Waldorf Astoria is a grand, luxurious haute Chinese restaurant. Renovated in colors of black, gleaming gold and silver, fuzzy banquettes and a black marble bar. The layout is like an old-school power room surrounded by orchids and dim lighting.
I’ve been in the search for solidly good high-end Chinese food in New York City (I’m speaking of the ones I’ve eaten Shanghai, Beijing and Hong Kong) and based on this dim sum afternoon tea experience, I think this is a good bet. The service was professional and friendly. The plush atmosphere feels comfortable. The food generally was very good. The Western style portion of the afternoon tea fare met expectations for a crumbly scone, a lovely fruit tart and other French pastries and the Cantonese dim sum were executed with finesse and it has a modern luxurious edge that doesn’t feel gimmicky.
We ordered the Imperial Tea ($88 per person) that includes a pot of tea and the dim sum selection. In terms of beverages, we had very good pots of lapsang souchong and dong ding teas and alcoholic beverages of a beautifully dry, red fruit forward Champagne Alfred Gratien Brut Rosé ($22) and a gently sweet Rooftop Sunset ($16) cocktail (mixture of Champagne, Kinatro shochu, honey syrup, Peychaud’s bitters) with ombre shades of pink.
Scones were the first to arrive to our table; the traditional scone and seasonal apple cinnamon scone were placed on our plates and a wonderful plate of accompanying spreads to go with them. The yuzu curd was bright and creamy. The yuzu-berry jam was lovely but their rooftop honey was quite special with its resonating floral, light flavors.
Our tier of mostly Western style fare came out. The lowest tier containing the signature Waldorf salad (a sweet and tart apple salad, celery root, walnuts, grapes and a touch of truffle vinaigrette) and coffee liqueur infused baba. The middle tier consisted of grilled scallop, compressed black plum, yuzu aioli, an adorable roll of sesame & ginger shrimp salad wrapped in nori and topped with wasabi tobiko (the flavors came out nicely here), shiitake and goat cheese pancake topped with little rounds of baby zucchini, five spice goat cheese and minced duck & ginger cornbread topped with foie cream, caramelized cippolini, and pine nuts. The dessert tier had a pumpkin spice macaron (good flavor), raspberry creameux, a cube of chocolate financier topped with mascarpone cream and candied orange zest, and seasonal fruit tart.
The part I’m most excited for was the dim sum. The wooden steam basket filled with lobster and truffle dumpling, pork shu mai (猪肉燒賣), and pork soup dumpling (小籠包) was delicious. While all were good, the one that really got my attention was the flavorful lobster and truffle dumpling. The skins of these dumplings were about on par (as in not thick).
The separate plate of shrimp & sausage radish cake and BBQ pork puff pastry were tasty. The sauce that coated the radish cake was bold yet had a good balance of sweet, savory and spicy. The pastry was baked nicely and good flavor.
The special treat we had was the steamer of four striking black & gold egg yolk custard buns (黃金流沙包). These buns are special because it’s typically served for dinner only. The relative thinness of the bun and the texture of the filling were the best part of the buns.
For more photos of this visit, please CLICK HERE for the complete set or see below:
La Chine at Waldorf Astoria
540 Lexington Avenue
New York, NY 10022
Phone: (212) 872-4913