o took me to yauatcha for my belated birthday dinner. we had done much short listing and eventually decided on coming here partly because i love dim sum so very much and partly because we’ve been meaning to come here for so long and haven’t managed to make it.
so here we were on a friday night waiting aside the macaroon and chocolates to be seated. shortly after nine we were led down the stairs to be seated. the lower floor of yauatcha is markedly different from the ground floor – the lighting is more subdued and the bar has an aquarium running along it. there is a certain calm to the busy-ness here. everything works clockwork. food appears and empty plates disappear without the bat of an eyelid or a raising of the hand.
o was in charge of drinks so to start with we had a chai la lai – a rather fruity and refreshing concoction of crushed grapes, apple syrup, vodka, oolong tea and some champagne followed by dragon’s well green tea. the chai la lai tasted as good as it looked. i was given the rather difficult task of short listing the dim sum with some suggestions – o fancied the winter melon dumpling with black fungus and straw mushroom and the crystal dumpling wrap with pumpkin and pine-nut neither of which would have been my choice. the winter melon dumplings looked pretty as they were shaped like carrots with the dim sum wrapper in orange and a tuft of green herbs for the leaves, but were disappointing in taste. the pumpkin and pine-nut is a combination that i would pick for ravioli rather than dim sum. in either case i associate pumpkin with autumn not summer. the dim sum wrapper on this was delicate and perfect but once again the flavours were tepid. if i had it my way i would have picked the meaty wild mushroom dumpling or a bean curd roll. i chose the prawn shui mai with chicken, prawn cheung fun and the rice paper prawn mango roll. the prawn shui mai was excellent (which may explain why o ate more of it than the vegetable dumplings he had ordered), the rice paper prawn mango roll an experience of textures and flavours with a crispy fried exterior giving way to a rich creamy centre of prawn and mango. i loved the cheung fun which (i think) was a variation on the tradition cheung fun as between the rice noodle roll and the prawn filling was a layer of slightly crispy fried batter.
although we had no space for dessert we decided to go all out anyway and ordered the milk chocolate and passion fruit cake with toasted hazelnuts and ginger ice-cream (this was recommended by our waiter). i must admit that i was slightly disappointed at the fact that there were no desserts with green tea or azuki beans. we also ordered a selection of chocolates. the cake was an interesting experience. i would have to deconstruct it into parts some of which were good. the ginger ice-cream was excellent, not over powering in its creaminess or in its taste of ginger and the presence of some thin flaky biscuit added a welcome crunch. the cake on the other hand was a slightly odd concoction of flavours and textures. a thin passion fruit jelly layer between an ultra non-chocolate cream on a biscuit base. in this it was the biscuit base which shone the most with a slightly nutty flavour and light crunch. the jelly could have benefited from a little more passion fruit and the cream with more chocolate.
the chocolates did not disappoint. there was a lovely yuzu one with a hint of sake, a white chocolate truffle with a heady coconut cream and the best of all, a white chocolate and matcha one which has a really intense green tea flavour.
dinner was followed by drinks at the light bar at st martins lane which is one of my favourite bars in london and does the most exquisite cocktails, fruity champagne flutes and strawberry cheese cake shots.