River View Cafe is a table service restaurant in Hong Kong Disneyland, overlooking Adventureland and the Jungle River Cruise. This review covers Afternoon Tea and features photos of the experience, our take on ambiance, and other assorted tidbits. River View Cafe serves Southeast Asian and Chinese dishes in an open-air restaurant. Some regular menu options including River View Cafe’s signature braised beef in Nanjing style, sweet and sour fish fillets with pineapple, Fujian fried rice, wok-fried noodles with beef tenderloin, and Singaporean vermicelli with scallops.
Since we were going specifically for the Afternoon Tea Set, we didn’t have a chance to try these, but our experience with Hong Kong Disneyland restaurants has generally been that counter service is the better option, as quality at counter service restaurants is really high, whereas you don’t see much of a gain at table service restaurants–except in the prices.
As for the Afternoon Tea Set, a little background might be in order for those of you who might be puzzled as to why a Chinese park is serving high tea. Until 1997, Hong Kong was actually a British colony (it’s now a partially-autonomous Special Administrative Region of China), and as such, many of its customs have been heavily influenced by the British. Setting aside politics and all that, this had at least one undeniable benefit for Hong Kong, and that was making it a true “world city” that formed a bridge between the East and West.
This may seem irrelevant to a Hong Kong Disneyland restaurant review, but I mention it because, by extension, Hong Kong Disneyland is also a “world theme park” in the sense that there’s really no language barrier for English-speakers. Anyway, one of the customs that the British brought to Hong Kong was high tea (here’s some background on afternoon high tea in the United Kingdom), a social event that remains popular in Hong Kong to this day.
With that background, let’s take a look at the Afternoon Tea Set at River View Cafe…
There are several places at Hong Kong Disneyland that offer an Afternoon Tea Set, with two of those spots being in the park at Main Street Corner Cafe and River View Cafe. We have done Afternoon Tea at both, and while it’s not a strictly traditional High Tea, we have really enjoyed the unique experience these sets offer. Main Street Corner Cafe is the more traditional, Victorian setting for High Tea, with River View Cafe sort of offering its own “East Meets West” experience in terms of the High Tea itself in the jungle environment that is reminiscent of Lantau Island (Hong Kong) just outside of Hong Kong Disneyland.
In terms of ambiance, there really isn’t much to say about River View Cafe. It’s very simple, and actually feels a lot like a counter service restaurant. The setting area is fairly large and the decor is simple, with only some posters and random decorations that comprise the theming.
The main draw is the open air views into the Jungle River Cruise, but even those views aren’t all that much of a draw, as the restaurant is located across a walkway from Jungle River Cruise. Most views in the Cafe are of lush vegetation rather than the river.
As for the Afternoon Tea Set itself, we are both fans. While I don’t really go out of my way to have tea, this set isn’t really about the tea. In fact, I don’t order tea to drink with it. Rather, it’s about the spread of finger foods that accompany the drinks, and this spread is pretty good.
The highlight is absolutely the dim sum, which Hong Kong Disneyland does very well. If you’ve seen our Crystal Lotus Review, you know that they make some really, really cute dim sum, and the same is true of the River View Cafe. My only complaint here is that the dim sum at River View Cafe are generic pigs…it would be cooler if they were Disney characters from the Jungle Book or something. That’s hardly a knock, though, as the dim sum tastes good and is photogenic.
Dim sum is not the only thing included in the Afternoon Tea Set. There’s also nicely presented little gelatins…
Plus egg rolls, wontons, and other assorted items…
As is the case virtually everywhere you go, there’s something edible (I believe this was a pineapple chunk?) shaped like Mickey Mouse. Kawaii definitely isn’t as big in Hong Kong Disneyland as it is at Tokyo Disney Resort, but it’s still big. The kawaii dim sum should be evidence of that.
Overall, it’s a nice little spread, and while it’s not filling enough to be a full meal for 2 people, it definitely accomplishes the goal of high tea in providing a bridge between lunch and a late dinner. At around $40 US for the set, I wouldn’t say it offers particularly great value–you can get something more filling from a counter service restaurant for about $15 per person–but the presentation is excellent. Also, and most importantly, there’s something to be said for having High Tea in a Disney theme park. It’s that unique experience, and the quality of the Afternoon Tea Set that really makes me recommend it. Having an Afternoon Tea Set is a nice way to relax and reflect in the middle of the day in Hong Kong Disneyland, and it is a fun offering that you won’t find at any other Disney park. If you’re on a tight budget or are interested solely in value, you should probably skip the Afternoon Tea Set, but I think the experience is well worth the money for everyone else.
If you are planning a trip to Hong Kong Disneyland, make sure to check out our Hong Kong Disneyland Park & Attraction Guide for reviews, strategy, and other information about every attraction at Hong Kong Disneyland! For more photos and a look at what we did during our first visit to HKDL, check out our Hong Kong Disneyland Trip Report (I know there has been some delay, but I’ll be finishing this report next week).
Overall Score: 8.5/10
To read other Disney restaurant reviews from Walt Disney World, Disneyland, Tokyo Disney Resort, Disneyland Paris, and Hong Kong Disneyland, organized by location, check out our Disney Restaurant Reviews Index.
Have you tried an Afternoon Tea Set at Hong Kong Disneyland? What did you think of it? Is it something you’d like to try? Are you a fan of High Tea, in general? If you have any questions or thoughts to share, please post them in the comments. We love hearing from readers!