Travel | HOTELS & RESTAURANTS

Add a bit of 'Shine' to an afternoon tea set

Grapes are said to be at their best between August and early October, so people are invited to make a “grape escape” to the Le Jardin lobby lounge at Hotel Chinzanso Tokyo this September for an afternoon tea experience (¥4,000 per person plus charges, noon to 6 p.m. daily, reservations not taken for weekends or public holidays) that celebrates this divine vine fruit.

Fresh, dried and pressed grapes — that is, wine — are all on offer as part of the autumnal campaign. Menu items run the gamut from the sweet to the savory, with different grape varieties allowed to shine. Native to Japan, the sweet and aromatic Shine Muscat grape appears in a dish of Shine Muscat jelly and yogurt cream as well as in a bite-sized cream cheese tart topped with the juicy fruit.

Smoked salmon and dried fruit bruschetta and beef croquettes simmered in red wine are starters to the feast. But no afternoon tea is complete without scones, jam and clotted cream; walnut and raisin, plain and caramel apple scones are best accompanied by one of the event’s 20 available loose-leaf teas.

Hotel Chinzanso Tokyo is 10 minutes from Edogawabashi Station. For more information, visit hotel-chinzanso-tokyo.jp or call Le Jardin directly at 03-3943-0920.

Savory French cuisine fused with fall flavors

Autumn means long, leisurely dining and food that captures the last of the sun. A seasonal repast awaits at French restaurant Queen Alice at the Yokohama Bay Hotel Tokyu, where the best of fall produce graces a special Autumn Harvest Festival special degustation dinner course from Oct. 1 until Nov. 15 (excluding Oct. 28, ¥13,000 per person plus charges).

A highlight of the technique-heavy menu is the beef fillet with matsutake pine mushrooms and truffle-accented gnocchi, accompanied by a consomme broth. No less decadent is the course’s deep-fried lobster brik (a thin wheat dough) parcel partnered with a white carrot fondant.

Pink and buttery salmon from Lake Hamana in Shizuoka Prefecture also makes an appearance; restaurant chef Hironori Tamoyama caramelizes the fish and serves it on a cauliflower mousseline. Pears poached in syrup with crystallized walnuts, caramel mousse and a marron ice cream do justice to the fine reputation of Gallic desserts.

The campaign runs from 5:30 to 9 p.m. Two dining sessions are available on weekends and public holidays; the first starting from 5:30 p.m. and the second from 8:30 p.m.

The Yokohama Bay Hotel Tokyu is one minute from Minatomirai Station. For more information or reservations, visit ybht.co.jp or call 045-682-2222.

Tropical harvest meets chocolate for summer

People are invited to join a celebration of chocolate at Swissotel Nankai Osaka where diners at the hotel’s top-floor Tavola36 restaurant can indulge in a Swiss Chocoholic Tropical Buffet until Sept. 29.

Featuring fruits such as juicy mangos, vibrant pineapples, guava and dragon fruit among others, the tropical-themed smorgasbord of sweets offers an ideal way to enjoy summer fruits paired with chocolate in air-conditioned comfort while also taking in views of the Osaka skyline.

The weekend-only buffet (¥4,500 for adults and ¥2,250 for children ages 4 to 12, plus taxes and charges) operates from 3:30 to 5 p.m. Meals may begin with light, savory dishes such as pizza, soup and salad, but diners should be sure to save room for one of the 30 desserts available.

A sumptuous apple mango tart may start proceedings, or a rich and velvety vanilla bean panna cotta (sweet cream gelatin) topped with a refreshing guava jelly. Guests may be tempted by pineapple coconut cream puffs, the lychee and berry mousse or banana chocolate roll cake, or interested in trying some more adventurous fare — avocado and banana lattes and a lemon chocolate fountain, lending the event a “Charlie and the Chocolate Factory” touch.

Swissotel Nankai Osaka is directly above Namba Station. For more information, visit www.swissotel-osaka.co.jp or call 06-6646-1111.