Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Dimsum in Soho

In case nobody yet got it from this blog, I love food. And eating out in the vast smorgasbord of London Restaurants is one of my top reasons for living and loving it.

This weekend we went to Yauatcha in Soho for a (most) belated Anniversary lunch of dimsum and tea. Yauatcha was opened by famed restaurateur Alan Yau of Buasaba, Wagamama, Hakkasan and ChaCha Moon fame. We’d been to every single one in the tantalizing food line-up, in fact Wagamama and Busaba feature frequently, but Hakkasan was only for my birthday last year and somehow despite continually saying we’d be going soon, Yauatcha had completely fallen off the list.

When I first called Yauatcha a few years ago the economy was in full b(l)oom and people were spending their money like free water. All we ever managed was a rude person on the other side barking instructions about a 2 hour slot (and not a moment longer) in two weeks time to begin precisely at 2.14 pm (or something equally convoluted). I didn’t warm to the idea of shoveling the food down my throat in record time – tea and dimsum after all are to be savoured at leisure. Also, the rudeness was uninspiring and Yauatcha was off our menu.

Now that the water tap is running dry everyone is vying for a slice of our thinning wallets. At 11am the lady who answered was polite and said that a table for 2pm would be no problem, infact where would we like to sit? Booked we made our way across the dysfunctional London Tube into a less crowded than usual Soho. We were seated almost immediately, on comfortable seats made utterly uncomfortable by a table base which allowed no room for ones feet. V drank a pot of Taipei Green tea (I stole some – it was delicate and light) and I had a kiwi and lime iced tea (which was delicious although the tatse of tea was masked by the other flavours). We started off the meal with a soup each, V had crab and caviar soup (he thought the smell overpowered the taste), I had hot and sour chicken (possibly the best one I have had in a long long time). Then we shared venison puffs (delicious, lived up to its reputation – my favourite), salt and pepper squid (V’s favourite, too much batter for me - I am more partial to Busaba’s Thai calamari), Pandan chicken with a lime dip (again Busaba does a better version of this) and duck spring rolls (filled with perfectly seasoned duck and served with a delicious plum sauce.

We were full but in greed decided to order one more dish. V ordered steamed a seabass and mooli dimsum and then not wanting to be left out I ordered a spring onion pancake. The pancakes were really stuffed puffs, with spring onion and bacon, very tasty but not pancake like at all. Big mistake, as we were both full. Eyes bigger than stomachs. Greed is a vice etc etc etc.

We staggered out into the bright world a few hours later, stuffed to the gills on good food, chat and endless sniggering at our neighbouring table which had an American woman, her chatterbox stiff-upper lip English architect husband, his sister and their father. The father insisted to the American woman that he was paying for the meal and not broking any negotiation on the matter since he was in town only for a week etc etc. His loud mouthed son then proceeded to order about 20 dishes and multiple drinks and then talked continuously, not letting anyone give their opinion or get a word in sideways. He kept saying things like, “...and this is made from Taro and chicken, and isn’t it tasty?”, to which someone would say “ye...” and he would immediately interject with “which is why I ordered it. It’s the best thing on the menu, I had it when….blah blah blah”. Everyone looked bored enough to shoot themselves including his father and partner. Then he went on to talk about how people who have been vegetarian for years (his partner, the American woman) could not digest meat even if they wanted to, blah blah blah. And then ordered 6 extra things for her to try out because “being vegetarian means she eats fish, but doesn’t want anything gloopy, too obviously fishy(?!)”. And then began to expound on about air conditioning duct design, at which point I too was ready to shoot myself. Thankfully we were done and could leave.

The meal was not cheap by any means but the determinedly underlit setting, fish tanks and enormous wine coolers lent themselves well to the idea of a ‘fancy meal’. I enjoyed myself thoroughly. I think V did too. The ingredients were fresh, well prepared, beautifully presented and very tasty. If a special occasion arose I would go back. Or with the wide variety of untapped London restaurants, will I?

I so owe my blog a post on Hakkasan. Next week?

Yauatcha: 15 Broadwick Street, London W1F 0DL. Tel: 020 7494 8888


  1. Could almost visualise you doing a "Travel and living" presentation!Meanwhile, you've been awarded! Do drop by!

  2. I love Yauatcha, but I suspect people have moved on from it to newer and trendier places. Hence, the staff have had to climb down from their gilt edged stools on cloud nine to the corner of filthy Berwick Street. I eat dim sum every Sunday. Try Joy King Lau on Leicester Street. It's delicious.