Yauatcha is over a decade old – which is a serious feat given London’s super fast turnover of restaurants these days. We visited (on a normal Tuesday evening) and it was full – booking a table has to be done several days in advance, in fact, so clearly this Broadwick Street dim sum eatery is doing something very right (legend has it, that on a busy night over 650 diners will pass through the restaurant!).
Alan Yau is the founder of both high-end Hakkasan (opened in 2001) and fast food joint Wagamama (from 1992); Yauatcha came along in 2004, with a dim sum focused menu and slightly whacky interior.
There are two floors: the ground floor, with it’s blue tinted floor to ceiling windows, and a moodily lit basement. We were seated at a banquette table in the basement, beneath a ceiling of twinkling star lights and surrounded by brick walls with multiple candle-filled alcoves.
A fish tank has been fashioned into a bar and runs the length of the restaurant, and a ginormous orchid stands at the entrance to the kitchen. Overall, it’s moody, high-end, and many tables are occupied by men in suits, though not a huge number of Chinese diners (take that as you will).
The menu has a long dim sum list, followed by some non-dumpling main courses, and plenty of pudding options. There’s a somewhat pricey cocktail menu too (which we skipped). I am no dim sum expert so, aside from demanding the Venison Puffs (having seem them listed on Time Out’s Best Dishes in London), deferred to Richard to make the selection.
We got stuck in. The Venison Puffs (£5 for 3) were indeed excellent – almost sweet and very rich and buttery. I would skip the Mushroom Cheung Fun (£6.70 for 3) if we returned, but definitely reorder the Fried Chilli Squid (£11.20). Richard polished off most of the Spicy Pork Szechuan Wontons (£4.90 for 4), so enamoured was he with them, and I continued to dream of the Venison Puffs… All in all, the dim sum was excellent and reasonably priced.
Main course-wise, we ordered a few plates to share. Stir-fried scallops with lotus roots (£19.90) and a Kung Pao chicken with cashews (£15.30) were both decidedly average – the abundance of scallops in the stir fry was negated by the odd texture and flavour of the lotus root, and the Kung Pao was fine but nothing special, with a lot of inedible dried chillis. The accompanying bowl of egg fried rice costs a tenner, so you’d expect it to be mind-blowing. It wasn’t.
We had, however, asked our waiter for a main course recommendation, and the plate of Jasmine tea smoked ribs (£13.90) that appeared was piled high with sticky, meaty bones that went down a treat.
My main advice for those heading to Yauatcha would therefore be to stick to the dim sum. It’s good value for money and is what they do best – I reckon 4-5 plates per person plus a plate of ribs to share will set you up just fine. And will also leave a little space for dessert, which is an absolute must.
Yauatcha has a fantastic patisserie kitchen on site that produces absolutely beautiful sweet creations – they are all so aesthetically pleasing and the flavours so powerful. We shared a Fig Blackcurrant, a pretty creation combining fig jelly, cassis curd, panettone and mascarpone cream (£5.90), plus a selection of macarons (mango passion fruit, vanilla orchid, chilli chocolate and rose – £1.70 each). This final course was just perfect.
Yauatcha gets most of what it does spot-on. The overall design and experience is fab – I loved the pretty pastel-hued crockery and the interior décor. The service was absolutely impeccable – almost invisible and totally unassuming, so that you barely noticed the staff but were able to totally relax. Water glasses magically refilled, plates were silently cleared, food was seamlessly delivered as and when it was ready – it was excellent.
These guys specialise in dim sum, so heed my advice and focus on that, leaving room for dessert, and maybe something from their exotic Chinese tea menu, compiled by tea experts.
A meal for two including service but not drinks was around £100.
15-17 Broadwick Street, Soho, W1F 0DL
Book online here