I’d nearly given up on Alan Yau restaurants. Wagamama I love, Busaba is ok as long as you order the right thing, Hakkasan is decent enough as long as I’m not paying, Cha Cha Moon is not and Sake No Hana is, well, a disaster.
So allow me to have been a sceptic when my flatmate Neil kept going on and on about how good Yauatcha was. And allow me to be completely and entirely wrong. Yauatcha should be renamed Yumatcha. I loved everything.
We went for Neil’s birthday as a surprise, and even from walking in and seeing the very delicious looking mini desserts in the waiting area, we all started to get excited. The modern decor, vibrant blues and wicked exotic fish tank in reception were all witness to one of the best meals I’ve had so far this year.
The menu is immense. So much to choose from that we had a difficult time even knowing where to start. First on the list though was the Char Siu Bun:
Fluffy, slightly sweet puffs filled with tender, savoury pork. Normally Char Siu, though almost always tasty, tends to be sticky and difficult to eat, but these were perfect.
The Soft Shell Crab and Salted Egg Croquette were a favourite of mine. The crunchy crab offset by silky egg was served on top of a citrus sweet chilli sauce. There was a lot going on here, but it worked.
The Spicy Szechuan Dumpling was little gloopy for my taste. I found it a tad overwhelming, but it was a hit with the table.
Jasmine Tea Smoked Ribs were tender and delicious, only slightly accented (not overpowered) by hints of floral.
The Crispy Duck Rolls came out piping hot, nearly bursting full of proper duck meat, not just a few slivers like most places. The hoison was rich and plummy, and my only complaint is that they took it off the table too soon!
The Sticky Rice in Lotus Leaf was incredibly aromatic for what is essential rice and chicken. The rice had the noticeable sweetness that comes with being drizzled with mirin, which was a nice balance for the largely soy and ginger-based chicken.
The Sweet Potato Mei-si Roll was a surprise. Similar in taste and texture to a bird’s nest, the crispy bits on the outside were a crunchy, salty bit of fun, while the inside was silky smooth. Utterly delicious.
I could go on and on, but I’ll stop the love-in. Bad reviews are more fun to write (and read) than good ones anyway. I can’t wait to go back to Yauatcha though. It’s maybe not an everyday kind of place – the dim sum plates range from about £5-£15 and for three of us with drinks, we were out for under £100 – but for the special occasion or birthday meal, it’s perfect. I can’t wait to go back.