While I was living on the mainland, I tried to make it home to visit family as often as I could. During those trips back it became somewhat of a “tradition” that my wife and I attend afternoon tea. We have now been to the Halekulani, The Kahala Hotel, and the Moana Surfrider for tea. Unlike these establishments, MW Restaurant only offers their afternoon tea service on the 3rd Sunday of each month. During dinner the other night a fellow blogger, Thomas, mentioned MW Restaurant’s tea to us and I called the next day to book a reservation. How would this tea service stack up against others?

Unlike the other afternoon tea services I’ve been to, MW’s doesn’t offer an ocean view. However, in lieu of a picturesque view, it seems that MW’s tea offers a more focused and varied food experience. We walked in to tea and were seated for our reservation. Almost immediately after placing our tea orders (Lychee Acai for me, Mango Peach for the wife), the food began to arrive.

White chocolate scone, lemon curd

Tea began with a sweet treat in these white chocolate scones that were warm in the center with a nice crust. The flavor was subtle, the sweetness balanced by the tart lemon curd.

Duck Lettuce Wrap – Hoisin, crispy shallots
Edamame Panna Cotta & Ho Farms Cherry Tomato Salad – Corn relish, Moringa pesto, goat cheese whip cream
Seafood Dumpling & Pork Meatball – Truffle dashi, tomato sauce, parmesan crisp
Hot Crab Dip – Toast points
“Lau Lau” – Kalua pig, foie gras
Kimchee Shortrib Lumpia – Kimchee aioli, micro greens

A quick salvo of savory bites came from the kitchen in succession. There were some temperature issues with a few of the bites, namely the meatball and dumpling which were a bit lukewarm. Otherwise the flavors (except for the edamame panna cotta which was bland) were quite good. My favorite was the Lau Lau which had a heightened richness to it from the foie gras, along with hint of smoke.

Sweet Bites – Left to right: Chocolate palet, banofee eclair, earl grey macaron with salted caramel, lemon sesame cheesecake, strawberry matcha shortcake, opera cake

The final plate presented all of the sweet treats at once. These were enjoyable, but mostly forgettable. Nothing in particular stood out to us as exemplary, just simply… adequate.

There is no doubt that MW’s tea service provides much greater bang for the buck when it comes to the variety and quantity of food. At $40/person the pricing is fair and in line with other afternoon or high tea options around town. Although the quality of food is greater here, I think I still prefer tea at the Halekulani or Moana Surfrider. For me afternoon tea has always been about socializing and relaxation. I can sit with friends and family, enjoy some light food and tea, at my leisure. With MW’s tea service the feel is much more mechanized and rushed. It also lacks the ambiance of a garden or an ocean view, which I think adds to the relaxation of the whole experience.

If you want afternoon tea where food is at its center, MW is your place. If, like me, you prefer the ambiance and relaxation of afternoon tea, then perhaps other options are more suited for you.

MW Restaurant
1538 Kapiolani Blvd Ste. 106
Honolulu, HI 96814