I was a little apprehensive about our visit to Yauatcha for two reasons. Firstly, because whenever we go somewhere serving Chinese food my gentleman companion seems to order everything on the menu irrespective of price or stomach size. The second being that Yauatcha is owned by the same people who own Hakkasan Mayfair which we found so disappointing; it was expensive and totally style of substance. I feared this would be the case at Yauatcha.
Yauatcha is a “contemporary Chinese dim sum tea house” which received 1 Michelin star within it’s first year of opening and is based in Soho.
We arrived exactly on time for our 9pm reservation but were taken to the bar as our table wasn’t ready. There we waited for half an hour before being shown to our table. I hate this old trick – forcing you to buy a drink when you don’t actually want one. At this point I was grumpy and hungry.
We chose to sit in the ground floor restaurant which had a bustling cafe vibe to it with a relaxed atmosphere. The basement restaurant was darker and louder with more of a nightclub feel to it – so let them know where you’d rather sit when you book.
Our first dish to start proceedings was scallop shuimai (£7.50) and was absolutely divine. Sticky dumplings with a perfectly cooked scallop on top of chopped prawns topped with vibrantly orange salmon roe made for an enjoyable mouthful. I suddenly stopped feeling grumpy and started to get excited – if this was a sign of what was to come I’d be a very happy chappy.
The Chinese chive and prawn dumplings (£5.50) were also heavenly. Dipped in the spicy chili oils provided they tasted even better.
Next up was the crispy duck roll (£6.90) with a little pot of plum sauce. The spring roll lived up to its name and certainly was very crispy. The duck filling was a little dry but the flavour more than made up for it.
The pan fried turnip cake (£5.50) was utterly delicious. I was shocked at how incredible it was – it could have converted me to being a vegetarian. It had a crispy crust with a filling that had the consistency of a scallop which was unusual but great.
Next up was something I’ve never seen on a menu before – chicken feet in chili black bean sauce (£3.90). How you eat these is to put a foot in your mouth, suck the fat from the tiny bones and then spit the bones back out. I struggled to eat these elegantly but they were actually really tasty. They reminded me of the skin on chicken thighs once they’ve been cooked in a casserole – which was the main reason why my gentleman companion couldn’t stomach them but I enjoyed the experience! The rich black bean sauce had a strong smack of chili in it which was lovely.
The fried chili squid with oatmeal and curry leaf (£10.90) was a real highlight. The squid was tender and the batter wasn’t greasy or soggy – it was some of the crunchiest I’ve ever had. The batter reminded of me Cornflakes (in a good way) and like nothing either of us have ever eaten before.
The char sui cheung fun (£5.90) was the weakest dish for us only because it was on the cold side of luke warm. In terms of flavour it was sweet with a sticky and slightly sloppy texture which was totally moreish – we just wanted it hot!
The winning dish was the venison puff (£4.50). Small round pastry parcels topped with sesame seeds and filled with rich venison was faultless and so delicious. These alone were worth the trip to Yauatcha.
We were full to the point of self combustion but decided to share a dessert as they looked so beautiful. A selection of desserts (not your typical Japanese puddings) were displayed in a cabinet so you could choose what you liked the look of which was a nice touch. The raspberry delice (£8.20) tasted every bit as good as it looked. A chocolate mousse with a hidden raspberry coulis filling on top of a chocolate brownie base was rich and sweet without being sickly or stodgy. It was a thing of beauty and the perfect way to end a fantastic dinner.
We were so full we could have rolled out of Yauatcha but we absolutely loved our meal. Our waiter was sweet and friendly, the atmosphere was buzzy, the food was DELICIOUS and it was very reasonably priced too. Go now.