We all know the kind of person - that one friend who only operates in two modes. 95% of the time they’re a first class honors overachiever, on the management fast track and living the perfect life in an absurdly quaint house in Islington. The other 5% of the time, they’re pissed out of their head, spitting on the floor and hurling abuse at you as you’re bailing them out of a jail in Margate. And every time that 5% surfaces, you sit and wonder why you’re still friends with them, while they end up having a few dry months for “charity”.
Yauatcha is a high-glam Chinese restaurant in Soho, and it’s the restaurant version of that person. 95% of the time it’s bloody fantastic. 5% of the time it’s an utter disaster.
When Yauatcha is perfect, it will make you feel like a VIP in the most glam Chinese restaurant in the world. This was one of the first restaurants in London to serve dim sum in surroundings you might call ‘sexy’, and they were also the first to add contemporary twists like lobster and caviar to the traditional dim sum dishes you would typically find in Chinatown. On the non-dim sum parts of the menu, you’ll see ingredients like dover sole and black truffle incorporated into other traditional dishes. As a result, there’s a lot of variety and diversity on the menu here, which means you can come back several times and have something completely different every time. And while we do encourage repeat visits and experimentation at Yauatcha, don’t get caught without their famous venison puffs on your table. Or else. Yauatcha’s in house patisserie also knocks out some of the prettiest and richest desserts in the whole of Soho. Missing out on dessert here would be a life error.
So what about Yauatcha’s other 5%? Well, the service has the tendency to be a complete and utter disaster, to the point that you might find yourself feeling like you’re in some kind of passive aggressive standoff with the servers. Water glasses are often left unfilled, tone has been known to be condescending, and explanations aren’t typically offered when you ask out things like “why is it going to be another 20 minutes before my table is ready?” or “why is there a fruit fly hovering near my food?” We know restaurants have off nights and that people have tough days - but Yautcha’s service has been off often enough that it has to be taken into consideration.
And that’s how we landed at a 7.7 for this review. We’re not saying you shouldn’t go to Yauatcha - you should. Just be careful like you would with any slightly unpredictable person or situation: travel in small groups, manage expectations, and smuggle in a bottle of water in case of an emergency. Because just like setting aside some bail money for your sometimes ridiculous friend, there’s a 95% chance you won’t need it.
Inside the puff pastry exterior is a savory and slightly sweet meaty mix that will make you swoon. And order two more portions.
Yauatcha has a brilliant selection of dim sum, which are the main draw for lunch or dinner. The Pork and prawn shui mai, spicy pork Szechuan wonton and prawn cheung fun are some of the winners to order.
Just because you’re in a Chinese restaurant doesn’t mean you have to get the crispy duck. But you have to get the crispy duck in this Chinese restaurant.
If you’re in need of noodles, this is the dish to get. Not the most exciting of noodle dishes, but satisfying nonetheless.
This looks like deep fried a sea creature, but it’s tempura-style aubergine in a delicious bean sauce.
This hot little red number contains a chocolate mousse and some lychee stuff on the inside. Damn tasty.