After a revamp of its menu sometime back, Yauatcha had its fair share of brickbats. Not only it no longer served macarons, its dim sum menu had shrunken considerably with a noticeable increase in prices, which we noticed in our previous visit to Yauatcha. For a period of time, Yauatcha seemed to have lost its glitter.
We were walking past it the other day after making our rounds at Oxford Street when we noticed something amiss about Yauatcha. Its macarons and cakes were back in the glass display counter again.
On closer inspection, there was a new addition to the menu - a taste of Yauatcha, essentially a tasting menu for two including the likes of baked venison puff, crystal dumpling wrap with pumpkins and three styled mushroom cheung fun, all for the price of £28.88 (excluding service charge). On our previous visits to Yauatcha, we would end up forking out around £25pp so that sounded like a fantastic deal. The only catch was that it was only available between 3-6pm Mon-Fri. We made a reservation for late lunch the next day.
Yauatcha has never been known to please those looking for a Chinese dining experience. If you are looking for the full works, you might be better off at Baker Street's Phoenix Palace where gaudy red was the theme colour with polished wooden panels and large Chinese lanterns adorning the entire seating floor - very much like a more affordable China Tang at Hyde Park Corner. But there was never a doubt about the quality of dim sum at Yauatcha.
Taste of Yauatcha not only allowed us to get a sampling of a variety of dim sum dishes, it did away with the trouble of deciding who should be getting the 'third piece'. Dim sum lovers would know that dim sum dishes are often served in threes for some reason and that made sharing between groups of two or even four rather bothersome. Every single item in Taste of Yauatcha came in twos and to make our job easier, Yauatcha even separated all items into two sets.
Now come the downside. Everything was served at once. No longer could you afford to leisurely enjoy the experience of 'yum cha' or 'the act of drinking tea' in Cantonese. Do that and you would risk your dim sum going cold, effectively spoiling the meal. There was some obvious changes in Yauatcha service staff as well; the staff were predominantly Cantonese and their service were somewhat perfunctory.
We found ourselves finishing our tasting menu within thirty minutes flat. It reminded me of the so called dim sum meals still found in some hawker centres back in Singapore where all items were precooked and everything will be served the moment you were done ordering.
That said, Yauatcha was still as good as ever. My favourite include the chicken taro croquette and roasted duck pumpkin puff. While the items on the tasting menu might not change in the foreseeable future, it would give you a taste of Yauatcha and to me, the restaurant still reigned as the king of London dim sum.