Friday, 21 November 2008

Yauatcha review - London dim sum king

yauatcha+review+londonAfter the writeup about Hakkasan, how does Yauatcha, which is just two Tube stations away, measure up to the competition?


Yauatcha was Alan Yau's second dim sum venture after Hakkasan's runaway success. Although both establishments seek to present Chinese cuisine in a fusion environment, Yauatcha caters more for the high street customers while Hakkasan has a more exclusive air to it.

Like Hakkasan, Yauatcha is not exactly easy to find. Depending on which side you approach from, you'll either trek through streets filled with run of the mill shops or sex shops, which Soho is famous for. In fact, you wouldn't even, for a second, think that in the mix mesh lies the gem that is vying for the top spot with Hakkasan.

Yauatcha's blue (a horrible choice of colour really) facade, which is slightly translucent, blends in surprisingly well with the display of its macaroons and cakes counter, its primary attraction for many of its patrons.

yauatcha-londonThis restaurant spans over two floors - ground floor and basement. The layout of the ground floor attempts to mimic that of a typical downtown Chinese restaurant with a number of two seater tables, a handful of round tables not meant for more than five and fish tanks with live catch to boot. The basement reminds me of Hakkasan - dim lights that accentuates a fusion aura.

It is apparent that the place is designed to pack as many people in as possible. That explains the cheaper (only slightly though) dim sum and other dishes compared Hakkasan. A typical dim sum serving goes for £3-4 and tea is charged per pot.

Comparing similar staple dim sum (i.e. harkow, siew mai, char siew bao and xiao long bao), Yauatcha certainly beats Hakkasan hands down. With its more extensive menu and somewhat warmer services, it is hard to fathom why one would fork out more for Hakkasan's fare.

yauatcha-londonThe main thing that sets Yauatcha apart from Hakkasan is its desserts and cakes counter. It reminded me of Laduree, only with more varieties. Dim sum chauvinists may find mixing Chinese cuisine with macaroons and cakes as desserts hard to swallow. However, looking at the boxes of desserts carted away by Yauatcha's patrons, I would say that the mentality is not shared by many. Also, with cakes easily available, Yauatcha is a popular venue to celebrate birthdays. In fact, I encountered staff singing birthday songs every single time I was there.

All in all, Yauatcha offers better value for money with the quality of food slightly above that served in Hakkasan. However, if you're entertaining clients or prefer to have your siew mai in peace, you might still want to consider Hakkasan.

Address: 15 Broadwick Street, London, W1F 0DL
Tel: 0871 2238066 (reservation absolutely necessary)
Nearest Tube station: Piccadilly Circus

Ratings (out of 5 *)
Price: below £30 pp
Taste: *****
Service: ****
Ambience: ***
Suitable for: Gathering with pals. Ground floor suitable for afternoon tea, basement suitable for dinner.

Yauatcha on Urbanspoon

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