Yauatcha, London

When I am in London one thing I look forward to is dinner at Yauatcha. Yauatcha is the restaurant that Alan Yau started along with Hakkasan (I have not been there, just Yauatcha) and Wagamama (a noodle joint in London with food coming out at faster than lightning speeds on communal tables). The dim sum and some of the dishes (Peking duck is an absolute must have) at Yauatcha are delicious, though there are quite a few popular dim sum joints in London Yauatcha is the one I like to go to.

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One of the first things you’ll notice at Yauatcha when you walk in is the pastry bar. This bar is filled with delicious cakes, chocolates, and macarons. I love the way Mr. Yau has integrated the art of french pastries with traditional chinese dim sum fare. Yauatcha is also my favorite place to have afternoon tea. Afternoon tea isn’t big in the states but we all know it’s a huge part of english tradition. Tea at Yauatcha DOES beat afternoon tea at the Dorchester Hotel, and this is hard for me to say because I love afternoon tea at the Dorchester. All of the gorgeous pastries served during afternoon tea are created by Stephane Sucheta, a former Pierre Herme disciple.

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Cocktails here are quite big, this one below was part of the “long drinks” section..called “BARON VERT”, flavored with basil, dry vermouth and grapefruit juice.

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Every table gets a small serving of pickled cucumbers, a combination of sweet, spicy, and tart, these pickles are addictive.

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Very important, the right kind of hot sauce. This one has a crispy oily vibe to it and it is just perfect for dim sum.

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Be careful how quickly you order food at this restaurant. One thing I noticed about Mr. Yau’s restaurants is that the food comes out very quickly. Mr. Yau’s work experience includes running McDonalds and KFC franchises before opening Wagamama, so I think this whole idea of “fast food” has influenced him somewhat. I never order food after ordering the cocktail, I like to wait a little bit because then I can’t sit down and enjoy my drink. This is the kind of place where you have to order food when you are ready to eat it. But the whole “fast” food vibe of this restaurant does not interfere with the quality of food served- this place has already earned its 1 Michelin star.

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Pork and prawn shumai, this shumai is also topped with a soupy shredded scallop sauce.

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Scallop and Caviar Shumai. A whole piece of Scallop sits on top of a chopped shrimp.

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I like that the scallop has not been chopped and mixed into the dumpling, instead you eat a whole slice, I think you get to taste the texture of the scallop better this way.

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Chilean Seabass Mooli Roll, a whole piece of fish wrapped in a thin sheet of radish and tied with chive sits in a light black bean sauce.

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Shrimp roll with celery wrapped in a thin sheet of bean curd and fried.

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Frying bean curd makes for the perfect crust, the crust is so hard that you can almost “knock” on it with your chopsticks.

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Okay so everything else is great, wonderful, delicious…but the Peking Duck at Yauatcha is “it”. It is prepared a little bit differently than the traditional way. The cucumbers and sliced scallions below are traditional.

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The wrap for peking duck is usually thicker, and bigger…here the wrap is so thin that you can see through it. The wrap is chewier, lighter, softer..not as papery as the original kind.

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Duck is seared with a light crust instead of roasted, the exterior is very crispy and they don’t bring the whole duck out, they bring a leg and the breast meat. The duck is flavored with lots of chinese 5 spice and there isn’t much of that fatty gelatinous substance under the skin with this (if you enjoy that fatty stuff under the skin then you might not like the Peking Duck here)

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This would have to be the perfect peking duck in my opinion.

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Another perfect dish, stir fried garlic shoots with shimeji mushrooms.

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Finished the night off with tea.

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