Cova Cafe.

An Italian cafe/patisserie located in major shopping malls here in Hong Kong with a line of cakes and confections that can be enjoyed at home or within the four walls of their cafes.
My aunt, uncle and I were a little bored during Chinese New Year since everything was closed. Since we already watched a movie (Percy and the Lightning Thief), we decided to drive out to Causeway Bay and find a place to have afternoon tea shortly after we had the traditional Chinese brunch that my grandmother prepared consisting of 11 dishes. Initially we planned to go to Hit the Road but it was closed so we ended up at Cova Cafe in Lee Gardens. My impressions of Cova Cafe varies from store to store. I find that in Hong Kong, the fancier/pricier the restaurant, the more stuck up and ill-mannered the wait staff is. Ironically you pay more to have better service but that’s not the case here. I went to Cova in TST with my dad for an afternoon snack (I had lemon chiffon cake when I just got stomach flu.. hahaha. that was not a good idea) and the wait staff was slow and unresponsive. A couple of years ago I went to the Causeway Bay one only to have some impatient waitress serve us, acting as if we couldn’t afford anything we ordered. Last year I went to the one in Pacific Place with my mom only to be ignored by staff too busy with other customers.

I’m not sure if it was because I was with my aunt and uncle or if it was because the manager was present or if it was because of Chinese New Year, but the service this time around was extremely good. The waitresses smiled, they served us when we got up and were extremely tentative. We all ended up ordering the afternoon tea buffet. I think it was approximately $200 including a buffet that consisted of a variety of miniature savouries (ham and cheese croissant, mini burgers, flat-crust pizza, cold tuna shots) and sweets (tiramisu, mixed fruits, cake, tart), an assortment of crustless sandwiches, tea and juice.

My friend recently went to the Cova tea buffet in Causeway Bay but told me she wasn’t allowed to take pictures. Strangely enough no one stopped me when I pulled out my huge SLR to photograph everything. Coincidence or not?

Above is the famed tiramisu that my mom and I make after the chef published the recipe in Ming Pao newspaper many years ago. Now they also have a ‘mango tiramisu’ but I find it a little odd when mango is mixed into a creamy/bittersweet dessert. Tiramisu with mango is not tiramisu at all.

Ambience: I was expecting to be seated in the oak panel room decorated with sprays of miniature yellow orchids from past experiences but instead we got seated in a very ‘modern’ room where the tea buffet was located. It didn’t have that Italian atmosphere that Cova so loves to boast about and felt a little corporate. The music was rather obnoxious- you would think an Italian cafe would play some classical music to fit in with the whole Cova philosophy. Well, they played American country at decibels that made me notice the music more than the food itself. Please change the soundtrack to suit your cafe identity.

Food: Traditional but not really inventive, however I would like to highlight a couple of things that is worth checking out. The scallops mixed with slices of mango and tomato featured above were so good. Definitely a keeper. Anything with a flaky pastry was surprisingly good too- buttery soft, pillowy thick with a crispy thin shell that gave way when you sank your teeth into it. The peanut feuilletine takes the cake as my favourite dessert at Cova. Because I can make the tiramisu myself, the peanut feuilletine is a rather divine confection: creamy mousse is contrasted with the crisp crunch of the peanuts rendering it into a classic hit.

Service: Stellar. When we got up to get food, the staff would serve us the cake of our choice and gave helpful suggestions and recommendations for my uncle when he asked. The manager said hello which is always nice and when my uncle purchased some sweets afterwards, the staff was welcoming and cheerful.