Of all the afternoon teas I’ve experienced around the world: from Tokyo and Hong Kong through to New York and London, nothing has beaten my trip to Fullerton Bay Hotel’s Clifford Pier, where I indulged in its unique Singapore Heritage Afternoon Tea.
A Singapore twist
Of course, when you think of afternoon tea in Singapore, the renowned Raffles may come to mind, but having heard that many guests were left underwhelmed there I decided to head to Clifford Pier to experience an afternoon tea with a difference – where the classic setup of sandwiches and scones are given a Singapore twist.
Clifford pier – colonial elegance
To start off the setting is stunning – Clifford Pier was originally built back in the 1930s as a landing point for some of the city’s earliest immigrants, later becoming a dock for tourist trips before closing down in 2006. Keen to conserve its heritage, the site was bought up and renovated by the Fullerton Bay Hotel. They’ve managed to turn the site into a gorgeous space that retains its original beauty and features, where Singapore’s history is honoured with a range of local culinary delicacies.
With its large windows and opulent crystal chandeliers you feel like you’re entering Cinderella’s ballroom and become a princess for the afternoon while you’re waited on by friendly, attentive staff and eat the most amazing food.
Singapore Heritage Afternoon Tea
The heritage afternoon tea takes the basic afternoon tea set up of tea, sandwiches, scones and sweets but is made up of dishes that represent Singapore’s culinary past and present.
To begin you’re offered a choice of beverages, which include local drinks such as coffee with condensed milk and tea with evaporated milk. Personally I’m not a fan of these sweet drinks and so I went for a light jasmine tea over my usual black – a much gentler option in wonderfully humid SE Asia.
Then the main event arrives made up of eight beautifully presented savoury Singapore delicacies and eight sweet ones.
Designed by local chef Shermay Lee, during my visit the savoury choices were made up of some mouth-watering dishes that included mini po piah (vegetables, crab and smoked sausage with a sweet sauce) wrapped in nonya egg skin, paper-thin pastry cases filled with prawn, crab and garlic, braised pork belly buns, spicy coconut fish sandwiches served in roti and chilli crab buns.
Every bite of every dish was a taste sensation that left me doing my little girly clap of glee as they took me to my happy place. But of all the dishes two stood out the most – the hae bee hiam sandwich, which is made up of fried, spiced dried prawns served on roti and the nonya chicken curry and roti jala wrap.
As well as being beautifully handcrafted the wraps were simply ah-may-zing! I’d go back to eat these alone and I’m not exaggerating when I say these were some of the best things I ate during my entire trip to Singapore.
Moving onto the sweets (shockingly I still had room after devouring everything on the savoury plate!) to start with I had the choice of buttermilk and dried mango and pineapple scones. This was followed by a hibiscus jam almond cookie – in the shape of a star to represent the Singapore flag, rose syrup macaron, pineapple-vanilla thumbprint cookie – popular during Chinese New Year, sugee financier, pandan swiss roll and a hainanese bun.
These pretty little dishes all features local flavours and included some of the chef’s childhood favourite desserts, so you really getting a taste of how the locals eat. In addition, you’re served up a selection of savoury dips and sweet jams including some bright red garlic chilli sauce an adzuki red bean dip, ginger lemongrass jam and salted egg custard.
All you can eat afternoon teas!
We spent a good few hours at Clifford Pier, rather than just coming for food its about the entire experience and the staff are keen to make sure you have the most wonderful time during your visit and are in no way rushed along when you get towards the end of your meal. In fact it’s the opposite – they happily come along and top up your drinks as much as you’d like and, as I discovered is a ‘thing’ in Singapore, like most other places in the city the afternoon tea is ‘refillable’! Like an all you can eat buffet, if there’s anything you particularly enjoyed the staff are more than happy to head to the kitchen to bring you out another serving.
Super-excited to discover this. I asked for some more of the delectable nonya chicken curry wraps (I loved this dish so much that I actually took a cooking class in Penang to learn how to make it at home!) and then possibly another spicy prawn roti, then Justin asked if it would be possible to have another of the pork buns… and well, in the end they brought out a whole second plate of the savouries!
Ok you probably think we sound like gluttonous pigs after admitting this, but with food this tasty, and knowing it would be a long time, if ever, that I’d get to return I just couldn’t pass the opportunity by!
A must visit
So a good few hours after skipping through the doors of Clifford Pier I was rolled out, full and content. And it was a great way to end a week of foodie heaven in Singapore – a destination food lovers should be sure to visit.
To date this is the most original and delicious afternoon tea I have had during my travels and to be honest I think it’s going to be bloody hard to beat. Not just great food but an overall amazing experience, I cannot recommend a trip to Clifford Pier for its Heritage Afternoon Tea enough!
More great things to see and do in Singapore…
If you’re after more Singapore inspiration be sure to check out our post 15 of the best things to do in Singapore!
Heritage Afternoon Tea at Fullerton Bay Hotel’s Clifford Pier costs $45 per person and is available Mon-Fri 3.30-5.30 pm and Sat-Sun 3-5pm.