Yauatcha unashamedly sets its stall out to give diners a modern and refined take on Chinese food. Its Michelin starred status reflects this but so does its pricing. My question is quite simply, is it worth it?
Its location on Broadwick Street in Soho could hardly be better in terms of footfall but it looks as though there will soon be some serious competition, right on the doorstep. Former owner Alan Yau is currently in the process of renovating the old Endurance pub next door so I’ll be interested to see what he’s got in store. Watch this space.
Yauatcha has a high-end feel but manages to avoid being stiff or stilted. To be fair it’s also a lot more affordable than the HKKs of this world. You can either go for dim sum (known as yum cha in much of Asia) or stick to perhaps more familiar Chinese dishes. We had booked for a Saturday afternoon and couldn’t look past the dim sum.
The main dining room is very light and spacious but we were given a table downstairs. This isn’t a negative though, we liked it down there. The lighting is low-key and it has a ‘Las Vegas 24hrs’ feel. It could literally have been any time of day. Luckily there wasn’t a roulette table in sight.
If you’re new to dim sum, as a general rule of thumb, I’d advise you to choose a variety of dishes from different sections of the menu (steamed, fried etc.). We also recommend that you order around six dishes between two (we had seven and two desserts – but we are pigs after all).
Now onto the most important part – the food!
Prawn and beancurd Cheung fun
This was quite possibly the best Cheung fun dish I’ve eaten in the UK. The beancurd was fried, which was great because it added a welcome crunch to what can sometimes be a fairly sloppy dish. The prawns were plentiful and the kitchen had even cut the rolls into slices for us. What a helpful bunch.
Chicken Shanghai dumplings
These were unusual because they were shaped like Japanese gyoza. They were also fried, not steamed and didn’t contain hot stock on top of the meat, as you’d find in a conventional Shanghai dumpling. That sounds quite negative but don’t worry, they were damn tasty. Honest!
Chinese chive and prawn dumplings
I don’t want to get overly technical but I’ve never seen this dish so green before. Don’t be put off though, it was very enjoyable indeed. The flavour of the chives wasn’t overpowering and there was a nice bite from the prawns.
Pan fried turnip cake
It might not sound amazing but for me this is often one of the tastiest dim sum dishes around. The Chinese chives added flavour but they are way too plentiful (even more so than the chive dumplings). This meant that this dish has a little too much garlic-esque pungency.
Spicy pork Szechuan wonton
These sounded amazing but failed to deliver. The sauce didn’t actually have much spice and the wonton was soggy, claggy and under-seasoned.
Rice paper prawn and mango rolls
These were genuinely something that I’d never tried before and they didn’t disappoint. The addition of mango added just the right amount of sweetness and the rolls were nicely crispy.
Scallop shui mai
Shui mai is a dim sum classic and this one had been poshed up by the addition of the scallop and fish roe on top like the cherry on a cake.
Make sure you save room for desserts, as these are too good miss! Sometimes desserts look amazing and disappoint on taste. One thing’s for sure, Yauatcha certainly can’t be accused of that.
Yauatcha is undoubtedly a few notches above your run-of-the mill Chinese restaurants. This meal cost us over £70, over double what we’d have paid at several restaurants in Chinatown. It’s a different kind of experience though. The atmosphere is better, as is the service and you’re not going to be table-turned the instant you put down your chopsticks. Some of the dishes were undoubtedly a cut above their cheaper cousins on the other side of Shaftsbury Avenue and it’s the little touches which elevate the dining experience.
It doubt I’ll return here for dim sum anytime soon but if you’re looking for a tasty lunch option where you can book a table and don’t baulk at spending a few quid, you won’t go far wrong. One thing we have been back for is their desserts. You can get them to take away from the counter upstairs and the macarons were up there with the best.
Meal for two with Jasmine tea – £71.44
Address: 15-17 Broadwick St London, W1F 0DL
Phone: +44 20 7494 8888
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