Yauatcha is a stylish Chinese teahouse and dim sum restaurant on Broadwick Street, Soho. The restaurant was established in 2004 by Alan Yau, the creator of Wagamama, but, bearing a Michelin star, Yauatcha is far removed from the ambience of this pan-Asian chain.
The restaurant itself is gorgeous. Designed by Christian Liaigre, it disregards any images of tradition and is instead a futuristic, sleek space. You’re immediately lured in from the outside by mysteriously dark, purple windows. The upstairs area is surprisingly light and airy, with an impressive selection of the restaurant’s pastries on display. I don’t usually associate Chinese restaurants with good desserts but Yauatcha has come up with some amazing treats, including pumpkin gingerbread and an incredible selection of macaroons. Moving down into the basement, the ambience changes dramatically. It is both dark and neon. A sky of stars hangs above the tables, a long brick wall etched with crevices is filled with faux candles, the chefs cook behind a glass wall and a huge fish tank of tropical fish stretches along the front of the bar.
…Chinese dim sum is experimented with through unique presentation styles…
The décor is reflected in the menu; traditional Chinese dim sum is experimented with through unique presentation styles. Yauatcha boasts 150 varieties of tea and 24 varieties of dim sum. For those needing something stronger than a cup of tea, Yauatcha also serves amazing cocktails. These are all uniquely designed for the restaurant and involve items such as the Chilli martini and the Cha la Lai- made with Belvedere vodka and oolong tea.
The great thing about dim sum is the amount of flavours and textures you can sample in one meal. Faced with items such as ‘Har gau’ and ‘Scallop shui mai’, choosing from the menu is a bit of a stab in the dark and it definitely helped that I was with someone who had been a few times before and knew what was what. Having said this, I don’t think you could ever go wrong with an order in Yauatcha. Everything is delicious and each mouthful simply melts on the tongue. If you’re left feeling not quite satisfied, or you simply can’t resist sampling another item from the menu, you can order more dishes as you go along. This means that a trip to Yauatcha can turn out to be pretty expensive but, to my mind, it’s worth every penny.
Yauatcha does impose time restrictions on each sitting, so this is not the most relaxed restaurant in London. However, the style, buzz and energy of this restaurant completely cancel out any negative points. Although I will always love the traditional Chinese restaurant, the Yauatcha experience is not to be missed.
Images courtesy of Yauatcha