Yauatcha, Soho, London, United Kingdom *****

Q: What is it? A: In 2004, Hakkasan’s top dim sum chef gets a restaurant where he can focus on what he’s good at, and receives a Michelin star within one year of operation.

Scallop Shu Mai - a whole piece of scallop on top of a chopped shrimp.

One of Yauatcha’s signature dishes: Scallop Shu Mai – a whole piece of scallop on top of a chopped shrimp. Firm and lean and a textbook example of texture and taste.

薑蔥龍蝦魚子餃 – lobster dumpling with tobiko caviar – plus ginger and shallot

This. Went down smoothly. Lobster dumplings with tobiko, roe from flying fish.

避風塘軟殼蟹 – spicy soft shell crab

Looking way more scary and complicated than it actually was: The soft shell crab with salted egg croquette.

Test of human multitasking: Four different dishes, arriving at the same time.

Human multitasking test with four dishes arriving at the same time (clockwise from the top): Fried pork dumplings, prawn shu mai, scallop shui mai, and steamed meat balls.

Yauatcha – fried chilli squid with oatmeal and curry leaf

Don’t get fooled by the not so sophisticated presentation. This is 油烹麥片鮮魷 – fried chili squid with oatmeal and curry leaf. It was chewy and offered the perfect heat, without knocking out your sensory system.

Chocolate praline. Check. Jivara chocolate. Check. Salted caramel and peanuts.

Eating healthy tonight, are we? Here’s a chocolate praline – with jivara milk chocolate – salted caramel and peanuts. And milk is, as we all know, very healthy. The least impressive dish of the evening.

A uncomplicated name – and a rather uncomplicated dish – "selection of ice cream and sorbet".

The restaurant selected three ice creams and sorbets to create “selection of ice creams and sorbet”.

A modernist take on the teahouse and Cantonese restaurant.

From outside, you’re looking at the teahouse. The restaurant is in the basement where some 650 covers are being banged out on a busy night. Which, eight years after the opening, still seems to be every night.

Looks like a nightclub or a cocktail bar. Is not.
Packed with beautiful people. Busy, bustling and one of the best. I have the impression that the reviewers from Guide Michelin must have worked very hard to shut out the little, ahem… disturbances that Yauatcha offer. Obviously they were successful in focusing on the food. One Michelin star was received in March 2005, less than one year after its opening. On my visit, I’m greeted by an absolutely stunning, gazelle-like creature at the door, accompanied downstairs by another super-model with a day job, and then in a dark corner of that brick-heavy, cave-like environment created by architect Christian Liaigre, the performance starts.

Michelin-starred fast food, China style.
First of all, if you want to sit down and have a three-hour quiet conversation over great food, just don’t come here. I experience the same phenomena that countless reviewers have mentioned in countless reviews: At the Yauatcha you get 90 minutes to eat. In defense of the establishment, it should be written that you will not have to wait very long for anything. All orders arrives as soon as they’re ready, causing a minor traffic jam when four dishes arrive almost simultaneously. If a restaurant on speed does not pose a problem for you, you will most probably share my view of Yauatcha: Almost everything is… a-ma-zing.

It shares the atmosphere and pace with Hakkasan.
Mr. Cheong Wah Soon – who was instrumental in bringing the Michelin star to Hakkasan in 2003 – is the supreme commander of the dim sum. And Mr. Soon does not cut corners. The first dish – scallop shu mai a whole piece of scallop on top of a chopped shrimp, topped with roe is sending distinct but smooth signals into the central nervous system. The firm, lean texture is absolutely top class.
Within 60 seconds, those scallops are joined by three more dishes, swiftly brought out by the Tom Yip-clad squadron of fashion models. The one serving that didn’t make a lasting impression was the dessert, although it wear bearing Stéphane Sucheta’s signature. All the other food items contributed to the five stars I’m happy award Yauatcha with.

It’s a quite unlikely top-rated restaurant.
I do want to underline the fact that the tempo inside is… crazy. If you ask for some time to browse the menu, the question “Are you ready to order?” will be repeated within less than 45 seconds. Some tables, including my own, are placed where other restaurants would consider storing detergents. It’s dark. It’s hectic. It’s sensational. This pseudo-Cantonese joint is a very worthy receiver of that Michelin star. The fact that we’re talking dim-sum here, also means that you may eat at the Yauatcha without seeing your piggy bank turn into a thousand pieces. You don’t go to Yauatcha for a value-meal but you will probably find it pretty good value for money. Just my two cents.

Yauatcha
15-17 Broadwick Street
Soho, London, W1F 0DL
United Kingdom

+44-20-7494-8888

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Wanna stay in this area? The Hazlitt’s Hotel (highly recommended)
is a mere 320 meters away. Book it through TabletHotels.com

Or try the Sanderson Hotel, 480 meters away, (and quite the opposite of
the Hazlitt’s). Book it through the same site, (TabletHotels), here!

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