Some of you may have heard of the new tea salon which opened in December 2014 in Starhill Gallery.
Newens may not strike any chord of familiarity to some of us, but for those in the know, the original Newens is in London and it is a 200 year old London tea room brand.
Pushing boundaries as always, YTL has successfully bought a taste of true Englishness into Kuala Lumpur by being the first in Asia to franchise Newen into Malaysia.
Along with the tea house, the secret and closely guarded recipe of the infamous Maid of Honour plus a score of other English elements befitting of the brand are put into place for the Newens in Starhill, so much so that it is a close replicate of an English experience as much as possible, barring the English bitter cold and English maids.
NEWENS chief baker, Chef Nathan flew 6,500 miles from Malaysia to London to learn the secret recipe for Maids of Honour tarts.
He had tutored personally under Newens’ London pastry chef, Kostadin Mitrev and thus now Malaysians can now rightfully claim that we have the authentic Maid Of Honour tarts in the country.
And the Maid of Honour had since picked up its legions of fans in Malaysia. Some of my friends on FB gushed about it, while some online reviews reported mixed reviews on the overall tea set.
Priciness was one, while another was the portion size.
Now, I’ve not been to London so I cant’ make a comparison. The tea set I’m today is the “A Journey Through Time Afternoon Fashion Hi-Tea“, a limited edition set which will be available only during the same period as YTL’s grand annual celebration of A Journey Though Time from 20th – 27th November 2015.
This “A Journey Through Time Afternoon Fashion Hi-Tea” is priced at RM160 nett for 2 pax.
The top tier housed the pretty sweets. In keeping with the theme cookies in high heel shape, a moist dark chocolate cake shaped in a handbag fondant and juicy strawberries coated in dark and white chocolate fashioned after a tuxedo forms part of the eye-catching platter.
The middle tier is missing the scones unfortunately.
You get 2 Maid of Honour, a mini Spinach Quiche and Chicken Pie. The only noteworthy component here is the Maid of Honour, served warmed up with its crust crispy and inner custard meltingly soft.
It is way too sweet for me personally, but bear in mind that this follows the original recipe from the courts of King Henry VIII in England back in the 1500 century and it is after all a sweet pastry.
What could be too sweet for us in this age was probably an acceptable level of sweetness for the English then.
Oh, do you know of the story of the Maid of Honour?
It is a pretty dramatic tale but entirely believable based on the novels I’ve read of Anne Boleyn and her sister Mary, though the stories had no mention of the Maid of Honour. LOL.
Yes, I did enjoy the novels and I enjoy following the tales of the English courts. I find the dark stories of both sisters painful, but nevertheless a riveting read.
So for the Maid of Honour the tale goes like this.
It is believed that Henry VIII, King of England from 1509-1547, came across Anne Boleyn and her Maids of Honour (the young ladies who attended the Queen), eating the cakes from a silver dish.
Tasting one for himself, the King was so delighted by its ‘melt-in-the-mouth’ sensation that he confiscated the recipe and demanded it be kept secret in a locked iron box at Richmond Palace.
One account goes even further and states that, in order to protect the secret recipe, the unfortunate Maid who invented the cake was imprisoned within the Palace grounds and ordered to produce the delectable tarts solely for King Henry and his royal household!
Having read the historic tales of King Henry VIII, I daresay it does sound possible.
Anyhow, these cakes are sweet and yet slightly savoury, light and crisp yet unctuously soft in the middle so it is a unique pastry for sure!
The bottom tier is merely the savoury sandwiches with fillings such as the standard smoked salmon and egg.
Now we are done with the riveting history of the Maid of Honour and thus answering the question of “What so special about Maid of Honour“, let’s see how is the Newens Tea House in Starhill Gallery is like shall we?
Newens is quintessential English.
In keeping with modern times, the style and décor are all fresh and new yet still reminiscent of a traditional grand dining room experience.
There are more than a hint of art deco influence underlining the aura of the English and the colonial era.
It is a true tea salon for the unhurried and refined, for no WIFI is provided, and the focus is about taking your time to enjoy the luxury of a leisurely afternoon tea, English style.
The seating arrangements are fairly spread out with lots of comfortable couches and chairs that allow you to linger and lounge around. Perfect for the gossip chats I’ll say.
There is a smoking and non-smoking area so be sure to specify your preferences are as during my visit some gentlemen were having their business discussion and puffing away.
So in conclusion, no doubt it is pricy for the average income earner, but not if you are a tai-tai or if you consider it a treat to savour the real Maid of Honour tarts as well as to experience an English tea house, without the need for a ticket in London.
Just relax in the posh surroundings while being serenaded by the harmonious sounds from the piano.
I’ve heard there is a harpist around as well, though he was missing during my visit.
As I’ve mentioned earlier, there are more affordable sets but with the same ambiance and service.
Check out the options below:
1. The Standard Tea set is RM60 nett (2 pax) for 2 Maid of Honours, 2 scones with clotted cream and preserves plus a pot of tea.
2. Cream Tea for Two Set at RM60 nett (2 pax) comes with 4 scones (2 plain, 2 raisins) served with clotted cream and preserves plus a pot of tea.
3. Want to have dim sum but in an English tea house? Sure!
The “Oriental Afternoon Tea for Two ” – RM120 nett (for 2 pax) comes with steamed siew mai & har kau, yam puff, spring roll, deep fried mango roll, crispy beancurd skin, pumpkin seed sesame bun, lotus bun & steamed custard bun plus a pot of your preferred choice of tea.
4. The standard “High Tea for Two” set is RM120 nett (2 pax) which consisted of 2 scones with clotted cream and preserves, assorted sandwiches, Maid of Honour, delicious pastries & macarons plus a pot of your preferred choice of tea.
5. Go ala-carte with items such a cocktail or a coffee and add an order of scones, Maid of Honour, savoury pies or a few macarons to nibble with your drink.
As you can see, it is not necessary to splurge on the afternoon tea sets if you are on budget.
Newens Tea House also serves food that can be ordered from the various restaurants within Starhill Gallery such as Fisherman Cove and Luk Yu Tea House so if it is just the ambiance you are looking for, it is possible to enjoy your time here savouring different cuisine.
Newens Tea House @ Starhill Gallery
Indulge Floor, Starhill Gallery (you can come in from JW Marriot lobby and just turn to your right and walk straight)
181, Jalan Bukit Bintang,
55100, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.
Tel: +603-2719 8550
Opening hours: Daily 10am – 11pm
Friday, Saturday & Eve of Public Holiday: 10am – 12midnight