I have fond memories of my first meal at Yauatcha. It was back in 2004; I had just moved to London and B, on a mission to acquaint me with the local food scene, had brought me there for a Friday night date. I remember thinking how odd it was to be eating dim sum for dinner (it felt almost sacrilegious) but ended up enjoying my evening – the atmosphere was buzzy, cocktails delicious and the food, genuinely good. Over the years Royal China has cemented itself as our go-to yum cha venue, but Yauatcha retained a special place in my heart and we would return sporadically.

In recent years many have expressed dismay at a drop in standards but impressions from our last visit (over a year ago) were good, so undeterred we decided to head on down for our weekly dim sum fix. Even the icy receptionist that greeted us didn’t dampen our spirits – after all the waitstaff here have historically been a lofty humourless bunch.

Foodwise things started well, with some excellent steamed Scallop Siew Mai, one of Yauatcha (and Hakkasan)’s signature dim sum offerings. These arrived in tandem with the Crabmeat Xiao Long Bao which looked the part and had lovely delicate skins but were shabbily made, breaking easily when met with our chopsticks. No great loss though, as the broth within was both oily and surprisingly bland.

Fried Beancurd Rolls, traditionally toothsome vegetables wrapped in crisp paper-thin beancurd skin had been inexplicably dunked in a thick batter prior to frying resulting in an unpalatable oil-logged crust.

The beef in the Wagyu Cheung Fun was tender but not meltingly so, and if I had not known it to be wagyu, I certainly would not have guessed it. Still, the union of slithery rice noodles, soft beef slices, crunchy asparagus and black fungus was a tasty one. But then at £18 a serving, it really should be.

We had ordered a couple of dishes as well, and there was a considerable wait for these after our dim sum baskets had been cleared. The Salt and Pepper Quail that arrived buried under a sea of chilli, garlic and batter crumbs, was dry and woefully over-cooked. A real disappointment as it is usually one of B’s favourites.

Our second rice-pairing dish of Beancurd Claypot featured pillowy tofu pieces generously stuffed with pork in a rich mushroom and black bean sauce. It was over-seasoned, but otherwise not bad.

There really is no escaping the fact that the cooking at Yauatcha is no longer at the level it once was, and it is a mystery to me how they have managed to hold on to a Michelin star, especially with service being as poor as it is.

I shall be sticking to Royal China in the future.

15-17 Broadwick Street
London, W1F 0DL

t. 020 7494 8888

Yauatcha on Urbanspoon

~ by gourmettraveller on March 7, 2011.

13 Responses to “yauatcha”

  1. The pics look much better than your review! Reminds me that I should make a booking for dim sum at Royal China in Singers this weekend!

  2. Oh dear – that beancurd roll looks actively disgusting. Shame. Have you tried Dragon Palace in Earl’s Court? I really enjoyed it.

  3. Again you post a fascinating experience! love it all. What camera are you using? If you please? Best from Santa Barbara.

    • Thanks Sherry! The pictures were taken with a Leica C-Lux 2. Not sure how successful you’d be if looking for that specific model though as I believe it has been discontinued.

  4. Wow, that is a big drop in standard. They used to be one of the best for original and refined dim sum. Looks like they lost their chef and substituted with someone from a regular chinatown restaurant. Shame.

  5. Awesome display! beautiful clicks .. it’s making me drool over my lappy..

  6. Agreed about Yauatcha’s service, especially that of the host. Ironically, they are the first point of contact with customers. Was relatively happy with Yauatcha’s tasting menu though. Oh, the beancurd tofu looks fabulous. Hmm, will ask for the during my next visit.

  7. The service at Yauatcha has always been piss-poor in my book! Food okay, but at those prices, I expect more.

    The macarons, on the other hand…

  8. That 1 Michelin star has been boggling my mind for a few years now — I quite liked Yauatcha 4/5 years ago, but like many have said, the service is woeful and the food has taken quite a dip.

    Have they got back a decent pastry chef, after the no-dessert stint a year or two ago when the original one left?

  9. This restaurant looks outstanding. All their dishes look tasty. I wish i was in london….

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