The Chinese Year of the Sheep notoriously promises both creativity and elegance, and Anna Dack found both Yauatcha Soho
The last time I ate Dim Sum, I was sat, perched on an unbalanced stool down a street market in Hong Kong’s busiest district. Steamed baskets of siu mai and cha siu bao were flung at me from trolleys, while orders were placed almost at random using bingo-style scoring pads.
A far cry from Kowloon, but only stumbling distance from London’s China Town, Alan Yau’s, Yauatcha Soho, pays respectful homage to its inspiration, while tactfully offering a luxurious and decadent setting for diners who prefer their dim sum in peace.
Currently celebrating the Chinese Year of the Sheep in collaboration with The Campaign for Wool, Yauatcha has out-done itself by re-vamping its design and adding a selection of special dishes to its award-winning menu. Uniquely modern in appearance, Pop-Art paintings of rustic looking sheep scatter the outside walls, while neon statues greet you in the entrance hall and staff members wear lucky red badges to honour the celebration.
Only moments after we’d sat down and ordered, dishes emerged rapidly from behind a blue tinted screen that disguised a squadron of white-jacketed cooks, juggling woks with the un-faltering precision of a Chinese Lion Dance.
Classic dim sum baskets such as beancurd Cheung Fun came bathed in a lagoon of soy, while the Chinese New Year Goldfish Dumplings that had at first seemed curious on the menu were exquisite in both taste and appearance. Rolled prawns were wrapped tightly in steamed rice paper and creatively manipulated into the shape of fish, lying shimmering under a lake of burning hot chilli oil.
Cooling down for a moment over mouthfuls of soft cucumbers, we enjoyed a delightful Chinese New Year Yang Walker cocktail – an extravagant concoction of Chinese spirit Baijiu, plum sake, Johnnie Walker whiskey, topped with grapefruit juice, lime and a sprig of rosemary – the perfect accompaniment to spicy fried food. The wines on offer were also tactfully chosen, each one offering a delicate fruitiness and light acidity to balance the range of distinctive fusion of flavours scattering the menu.
Then came the main event, as we were presented with an array of colourful plates, spread out in quick succession across the narrow table. Lying glistening in front of us were oily bok choy xsoaked in garlic, powerfully distinctive fried prawn balls coated in a salted egg yolk, helpings of fried rice, and deliciously tender Mongolian lamb chops, thick cut around a bone and doused in a tangy Chinese sauce. We couldn’t fault a single dish, each one bursting with flavour and leaving us hungry for more.
The desserts however, are comfortably the jewel in Yauatcha’s crown. The Year of the Sheep brings inspired macarons and petits gateaux, complimenting the existing desserts and handmade chocolates already on offer. The limited edition oat-covered macarons are made from caramelised sheep’s milk with a dulce de leche centre, while the exquisite petit gateau is a sheep’s yoghurt bavarois centred with lemon curd and lemon sable on a bed of lemon sponge and pandan buttercream, garnished with sheep’s yoghurt cream and crystallised grains, flowers and cress.
Chinese New Year specials at Yauatcha available from 2nd February – 28th February
Anna Dack is a freelance food writer, with a healthy appetite and hungry desire to explore London’s fastest and finest. For more follow @Dackery