We were no strangers to the dark blue tinted glass and shelves of multi-coloured macaroons that greet anyone who enters or even passes by the 1 Michelin starred Chinese restaurant, Yauatcha, having already been there once before. The restaurant has two floors; a ground level floor, which is fairly quiet, and an underground downstairs floor, which is much more atmospheric. Our previous visit to Yauatcha left us with mixed feelings about this establishment. Whilst the food was of great standard, the service that we experienced at our first visit was rather hostile. We were looking for improvements on both fronts on this occasion.
My dad had a complaint as soon as we were seated at our table. We were sat directly next to the kitchen, meaning that we could hear almost everything that went on in there. However, my dad felt happier as the restaurant filled up with customers. The noise of people chatting drowned out the clatter coming from the kitchen. We had been seated in the upstairs area at our previous visit, so the downstairs floor was a totally different experience. Previously, we had chosen the dim sum option rather than the main courses, so my dad wanted to try the latter. However, my mum, brother and I all thought that the dim sum menu had many more options. In the end, we settled for mixing and matching.
The spicy soft shell crab served on a bed of chillies and almond flakes came first. The crab was seasoned very well and the balance of textures was just right. However, I accidentally bit into a chilli and could not taste anything for the next five minutes! The crab shuimai, sticky rice, har gau, and char sui buns came next. There was a slight problem involving the Chinese tradition of four being an unlucky number. Since there were four of us and only three pieces to each dim sum dish, my mum and dad occasionally had to share to allow my brother and me to have a piece each. The shuimai, for me, was fairly ordinary apart from the small amount of crabmeat on top. However, I found the sticky rice intriguing, as it incorporated salted egg yolk in the rice, an element that I had never seen before. It was not too sticky and the flavours of chicken, prawn and egg worked extremely well together. The har gau was exceptional as well, exceeding most har gau you would find elsewhere in terms of flavour and balance of textures. The char sui buns were somewhat ordinary in texture but had a more intense flavour than most.
|Soft Shell Crab|
|Char sui buns|
The crab siew long buns, pan fried turnip cake, prawn sesame toast, and baked venison puffs arrived next. Being one of my favourite dishes, I thoroughly enjoyed the siew long dumpling. The meat was perfect in flavour and consistency, and the broth inside the dumpling complimented it very well. There was mixed opinion on the turnip cake. Whilst my mum thought it was too firm, the three boys all agreed that it was of a good texture. The prawn sesame toast was divine. The toast was crunchy and coarse, the prawn meat on top was not rubbery and the sesame seed shell gave it a lovely extra element. The baked venison puffs were slightly disappointing. Whilst the venison filling was exceptional, the pastry lacked the required puffiness and was rather soggy inside. By now, the downstairs floor had filled up and suddenly the atmosphere became more cheerful. We could now see why most reviewers preferred the downstairs experience to the upstairs.
|Siew long buns|
|Pan fried turnip cake|
|Sesame prawn toast|
Our next dishes arrived. These were roasted duck and pumpkin puffs, char sui cheung fun and Wagyu beef cheung fun. Once again, there was disagreement at the table. My mum, brother and I all thought that the pumpkin shaped puffs were delicious and that the combination worked. However, my dad remained rather sceptical, saying that the pumpkin wasn’t right and didn’t belong in the dish. A matter of opinion. The char sui cheung fun was as good as any other, but no better. We were disappointed with the Wagyu beef cheung fun, which contained more fungus than it did beef and therefore was not worth the £18 that they charged for it.
|Roasted duck and pumpkin puffs|
|Char sui cheung fun|
|Wagyu beef cheung fun|
Salt and pepper quail was the next dish to arrive. The meat was delicious and still slightly pink on the inside. It was perfectly seasoned with just a gentle heat felt from the pepper and a resounding crunch from the garlic, which covered the bird.
|Salt and pepper quail|
Entering the final phase of our meal, we had prawn and mango rolls in crunchy rice paper. While this exotic approach sounded exciting, it was not to our taste. The prawn flavour was almost undetectable, as was the mango, giving the roll a nasty flavour. The whole family agreed this time that this dish just didn’t work. Crispy duck rolls, steamed beef balls, chicken feet and chilli fried squid were the last dishes to be served at our table. The duck rolls had a great contrast of soft and crunchy textures and were packed full of flavour. For me, the steamed beef balls were a little too rubbery, but the rest of the family disagreed. The chicken feet were great, with the sauce incorporating sweet, salty and spicy flavours. Lastly, the chilli fried squid was great, with one slight problem. Whilst it had a different name, the squid and quail tasted identical, with the same gentle heat and crunch of garlic. It even looked the same. So whilst not a massive deal, we would have liked to have seen a different seasoning for a different dish.
|Prawn and mango rolls in crunchy rice paper|
|Crispy duck rolls|
|Steamed beef balls|
|Chicken feet in black bean sauce|
Food quality 8/10
Value for money 7/10
Yauatcha has certainly improved in the service criteria, although the food quality has stayed at the same level. Having said this, Yauatcha is definitely recommended if you are looking for some decent dim sum (the dim sum is better here than in many restaurants in Hong Kong and Malaysia) and their macaroons are definitely a must have, although we were too full to have any this time.
Author - CT (12 years of age)
Photography - DT