Endless blue skies and gorgeous summer weather. That’s what I think of when Afternoon Tea comes to mind, and Halekulani’s Orchid restaurant, set right up against Honolulu’s world-famous Waikiki Beach, didn’t disappoint. In a way, it was perfect.
Here’s me sitting at the table, surrounded by clean, warm air and the quiet chatter of other tourists.
Waikiki is conveniently located right in Honolulu, along the oceanfront (duh!). Most of Oahu’s major hotels are in Waikiki, so the Halekulani is just a short walk away! If you’re coming from somewhere else, the best way to get there is to drive East along Kalakaua Ave and turn right on Lewers St. If you pass the Royal Hawaiian Shopping Center, you’ve gone too far, and will need to make a giant circle and try again. So, be vigilant! 😉
Lewers St. is only about a block long, so once you hit the end of it, make a left and you will see the valet parking immediately on your right. Take advantage of it– Orchids validates for four hours, so all it will cost you is a tip!
My girlfriend and I were seated next to the Halekulani’s large green lawn, with a perfect view of the ocean. It was breathtaking! I had called two days before to make a reservation, and as many of you know, I’m vegan. After a disastrous attempt at having Afternoon Tea at the Moana Surfrider down the street a few months ago, I was a little bit skeptical about whether or not their assurances that they could easily accommodate me were trustworthy.
As it turns out, I didn’t need to be worried at all. I had a WONDERFUL time, and the chef had put thought into what he/she was going to serve me. I wouldn’t be surprised if they’ve had a lot of vegan customers come through!
We were given a sample tray with 12 different teas to choose from, and we each were able to choose our own. I love all kinds of teas, but because afternoon tea is a British custom, a dark tea with soy milk was the only choice for me! It’s milk tea or none at all, right? I chose the 30th Anniversary Blend, which is a fusion of Ceylon and Golden Assam teas, with some Golden and Silver Tips. I’m not sure what those are, but it was a smooth, full-bodied, slightly pungent tea, which went puuuuurfectly with my soy milk and a cube of brown sugar.
So much yum.
For our starter, we were given different menus. My girlfriend is not vegan, and I am, so she was brought a small basket with little scones, and given free reign of the condiments on the table. I would love to be able to try pastries at an Afternoon Tea sometime, but I might have to travel all the way to England to have the chance. She said that they went really well with the condiments, though — which were lemon curd, strawberry jam, and fresh whipped cream. I tried the jam, and it was sweet, but not overly sweet like most strawberry jam from the stores is. It tasted fresh and sort of amazing!
I couldn’t try the scones, but I absolutely did not care, because my starter turned out to be a giant plate of some of the freshest fruit that I have ever had!
Papaya, Pineapple, Cantaloupe, Honeydew, and Blueberries. They were so, SO good. All of them were fresh and ripe, and the plate was pretty darn colorful. Want some fresh fruit on your trip to Hawaii? I recommend you say ‘yes’ every time.
The Finger Sandwiches
YES! I was mostly worried over this, because my experience at The Moana Surfrider had really broken down here. My friends and I had been assured while making our reservation that they could definitely accommodate vegans for afternoon tea, but they couldn’t even make us any sandwiches (sandwiches! I’ll let that sink in), because ALL of their bread contained milk or eggs. We made our reservations two months in advance for that place, and called twice to confirm, and the chef had not bothered to find or make simple bread for us.
The Halekulani, though, was ON it! I was so, so, SO happy when these little guys arrived! Their bread IS vegan, and was used for both mine and my girlfriend’s sandwiches. As she said, it was the fluffiest bread that she had ever eaten! I’m spoiled by Japanese bread and it’s sponginess, but even I was impressed. It was light and airy, and as a container for artichoke hearts, tomatoes, pesto, and grilled eggplant, it was positively heavenly!
Yum, yum, yum!!
There were also some of the sweetest red grapes imaginable on the plate, and I pretty much died. Nom nom nomminess!!
I think that I loved my dessert a lot more than my girlfriend. I was served two sweet, ripe strawberries coated in dark, bitter chocolate. I’ve never used the word nectarous (pleasing, especially to the taste) until now, but that’s what they were. Nectarous!
I also had some small red jellies with a coating of sugar. They were delicate and silky, and just the right amount of sweet. Thuy felt like her cakes and tartes were a bit too sweet, but I was lucky, as the vegan menu was juuust right.
My Overall Impression
Tucked away in a quiet but bright and airy seaside location, I was absolutely blown away by the ethereal setting. I had been a bit sad in the beginning that I wasn’t served any vegan scones, but the fruit that I received instead was so scrumptious that I feel like I got the better end of the deal. The sandwiches were delicious, and the desserts just sublime. I would go back, I would go back a hundred times over.
Afterward, the local sparrows descended upon our remnants. Well, on Thuy’s, because I didn’t leave any. They appeared to appreciate the service as well, and were just too cute to bear!
Thank you so much for reading, guys! I will be back soon with more adventures in Honolulu!
P.S.: I am obliged to mention that this was not sponsored by Halekulani or any other business in any way. My girlfriend was kind enough to take me on a date here this time. ❤