Despite Hong Kong’s souring consumer sentiment and weakening economic outlook , the highly anticipated shopping mall and residential complex K11 Musea at Victoria Dockside in Tsim Sha Tsui had its soft opening last week. One of the first dining concepts to open its doors there is Artisan Lounge – and it offers an afternoon tea like no other. Firstly, the afternoon tea is available all day, from 10am to 10pm, and secondly, it can set diners back a whopping HK$1,688 (US$215) per person (there is a cheaper tea set that costs HK$690 for two). We had to check out the first option, and find out what’s so exceptional about the pricey afternoon tea, which doesn’t even include a glass of champagne. Artisan Lounge obliged with an invitation to sample it. Frankly, the afternoon tea is not worth the ostentatious price. Besides, the meal is still a work in progress. Finding Artisan Lounge in the first place was a challenge. There are no signs directing you to it when you enter K11 Musea, but if you look for Opera Theatre you’ll find the bar-restaurant on the latter’s ground floor, smack in the middle of the mall. It’s a place to be seen, if that’s your prerogative. All eyes will be on you, even from five floors above. From Uma Nota to Hutong – five Hong Kong restaurants that have made it overseas The mall is full of leafy green (well, fake leafy green) foliage and, while it is somewhat dimly lit, sunlight filters through the ceiling during the day. The background music is more like music from a film, very dramatic at times and very loud. Once we had passed the “By Invitation” sign at the entrance to Artisan Lounge, we found the seating to be comfortable. Each table has a custom-designed hanging frame from which the three-tiered afternoon tea set – which must be ordered three days in advance – hangs. We watch agog as it is carefully hooked into place and hope no items will fall off. We are invited to try 10 grams of Amur beluga caviar, presented in a small tin from which it is eaten with a tiny mother-of-pearl spoon. It comes with crème fraîche that we squeeze from a tube. The other condiments are hidden underneath a “golden egg” in a nest. While it looks cute, scooping up bits of finely chopped egg and shallot into two blinis is much messier than it needs to be. Next up we have a skewer of rock lobster with micro tomatoes, the crustacean sourced, we are told, from an aqua farm in the city’s Sai Kung district. The rock lobster is about the length of my palm – where did the rest of the lobster meat go? Slow-cooked abalone is served on a cracker of deep-fried tapioca that is rock hard and lacks flavour. Instead of a cucumber sandwich there’s a cucumber “inside out” roll, with thin cucumber slices on the outside, making it messy to eat with your hands. As you eat your way through the afternoon tea set, the three-tiered tray gets lighter, and a counterweight needs to be placed on it to keep the food accessible to diners. ‘Fine dining isn’t popular’: Chef Uwe Opocensky prepares to shake up hospitality Meat-eaters will enjoy the tea set’s slab of M4 wagyu beef from Kagoshima, which is served covered in gold foil to up the bling factor. The beef, which rests on a thin brick of pink Himalaya salt, is cooked perfectly, but by the time we eat it, the meat is only lukewarm. Talking of bling, the set includes two small pieces of black truffle. We can ask the staff to make it “snow” for us at an appropriate time … but on what? It seems something of a Marie Antoinette moment. Afternoon tea wouldn’t be afternoon tea without scones, and Artisan Lounge serves two classic ones – one dusted with icing sugar, the other with raisins. At first glance they look more like brioche buns, and we are looking forward to trying them; however, we have great difficulty cutting through them. When we point this out, we are given another set of scones, this time heated up (the others were hard because they had gone cold). The second set of scones are markedly better. Accompanying our scones are Barbie-sized jars of blood orange marmalade, home-made rose jam and clotted cream, all very good. To finish, there are a number of sweet items including a slice of rose-flavoured marshmallow, and a white blossom tea lollipop – some are very gimmicky, like the small macaroon that looks like a hamburger. We aren’t six years old. A chocolate made with 15-year-old mandarin orange peel has just the right amount of citrus flavour, but a pink chocolate decorated with nuts and dried fruit is not very interesting. While we are told items in the afternoon tea will change periodically, the set we try was not well thought out. One thing Artisan Lounge should rethink is how it can justify charging HK$1,688 for afternoon tea. While its opening was planned a long time ago, we can’t help thinking now is not the time to launch such an over-the-top offering. But perhaps the show must go on.