Wednesday, 22 September 2010
Sometimes, when one needs comfort food on a lazy Sunday afternoon, only dim sum will do. And as if to prove that comfort and style need not be mutually exclusive, there's Yauatcha. (There's also my new Massimo Dutti heels, the mildly glam-in-an-officey-way exterior of which belies a sensible, I'm-on-the-wrong-side-of-30, cushioned inner sole. But I digress.)
Yauatcha is a modern dim sum tea house with a refined air and a Michelin Star held firmly between its chopsticks. Formerly owned by Alan Yau, it proves to be surprisingly good value (say, around £25 per head) - particularly if you stick to dim sum and tea. Although I caution that the bill does start to stack up if you opt for larger dishes and wine.
The ground level, where we enjoy our lunch time dim sum, feels bright and fresh, with shades of blue and a large fish tank lining the entrance. Downstairs, is more dimly lit and clandestine - a popular option for the evening crowd.
We start with some roasted blue tea, the Fuijan Wuyi Yan, Shui Xian (£4 per pot), which we chose on the basis that other options are more expensive and our waiter tells us they all taste fairly similar. It's rather bland, and doesn't really improve with the food. Choose another one.
Dim sum comes in sets of 3 (reflecting the number's association with good luck and the word "alive" in Chinese superstition, but often resulting in heavy negotations for me and the TPG.)
The beautifully presented scallop shui mai (£7.50) is a treasure-like bundle of juicy scallops and prawns topped with gleaming jewels of roe. The winter melon dumplings look like pudgy carrots, but are an enjoyable taste of Thai winter melon, black fungus, straw mushroom and gong choi (£3.80).
The sticky rice in lotus leaf with chicken and shrimp (£4.80) is good (but not the greatest) but then the char sui bun (3 for £3.50) is fantastic (a must) - and also great value compared to the lesser morsels you might get for around the same price in Chinatown.
We steer off the dim sum menu to try the Szechuan seafood claypot (£17.00) - a fresh and colourful mix of prawns, (slightly too chewy) squid, peanuts, mushrooms, snowpeas, baby corn and chilli. TPG was more of a fan than I, but possibly because I think this a dim sum haven for me and I'm reluctant to diverge to the larger dishes unless it's for something extraordinary.
Our warm vanilla rice pudding with banana sorbet and caramelised pineapple (£7.50) is absolutely gorgeous, even if the pineapple was a little hard to negotiate. Handmade chocolates and macaroons are also on display - I tried a selection of 4 chocolates for £3 which were reasonably nice but no match for the pudding.
One possible hitch to any long, lazy, Sunday afternoon plans you might be hatching is that we were warned our table had to be returned after 2 hours - although no-one policed that once we sat down. We paid around £30 per head for our meal.
Yauatcha comes with my seal of approval for dim sum with a touch of glamour on the side. I was so impressed, that I've already booked us into Yauatcha's big brother, Hakkasan, next month.
My only regrets are that we missed the bulging, glistening har gua dumplings and the blue swimmer crab salad with sesame dressing, both of which we had to suffer through others enjoying on the next table. As if we need another excuse to go back.
Yauatcha, 15 Broadwick Street, Soho, W1F ODL (Tel: 0207 494 8888)