Right off the bat, let’s make one thing clear. High tea is meant for a minimum of two people. “There’s no point in having high tea by yourself. That’d spoil all the fun,” insists Villa Royale owner, David J. Campbell.
About five years ago, Campbell founded Villa Royale in District 2, Ho Chi Minh City, which serves high tea in an old villa decorated with antiques he has personally collected from all over the world. After a good run of three years, he expanded the business with a new venue, Villa Royale Downtown, in Ho Tung Mau in District 1. High tea has always been a fixture in British life, but according to Campbell, the appeal to Vietnam comes from the similarity to a traditional meal in the Vietnamese household.
“In Vietnam, Indonesia, or India, usually you have families sharing a whole lot of food in the middle instead of everybody having their own plate,” Campbell explains. “During an afternoon of drinking high tea, guests also help themselves to the cakes, pastry, and other food on the same platters. It’s very much a communal meal, but a bit more elegant.”
Villa Royale is known for its quality of tea. After all, Campbell does make a point of choosing TWG Tea (widely considered as the best tea in the world) as only tea brand available at Villa Royale. But like any great drink, tea also deserves a perfect food pairing. In this case – cheesecake.
Cheesecake is something that Villa Royale has garnered recognition for. Among the variations of Villa Royale’s cheesecakes include mango, blueberry, Hershey’s chocolate and cookies, and kiwi to name a few. If you’re not a fan of cheesecake, there is Lamington (a nod to Campbell’s Australian roots), carrot and walnut, and passion fruit cake topped with cream cheese icing, and many more.
Along with them, guests are offered three types of sandwiches and one savoury quiche. “It’s a gourmet selection,” as Campbell puts it. After everything is finished, a selection of scones find their way to the table. Think desserts after desserts. This is something Campbell calls “the ritual aspect” to high tea.
“Anything fit for celebration is good occasion for high tea,” he concludes.