It’s been 10 years since Yauatcha brought swanky dim sum dining to Soho. And with its Michelin star fare, sultry basement dining rom and expert cocktail list, its hard to imagine a better place to date. This September, in celebration of 10 years bossing it, the team have introduced a menu of surprise dishes. Useful for those who regularly return ad infinitum to woo yet another ‘love match’.
Spread over two floors, the ground floor is more suited to lunch dates and speedy cocktail/sugar refreshers (excellent macaroons!) whilst the basement is perfectly equipped for an evening session of dim sum and cocktails. The man behind the restaurant, Alan Yau, has long dominated the Asian dining scene in London with the indispensable Wagamama and Busaba chains, as well as the Kate Moss sheltering Sake No Hana and A to Z celebrity strewn Hakkasan. In keeping with the design of some of Yau’s more exclusive joints, Yauatcha channels the beloved nightclub-cum-eatery vibe. It’s all reflective surfaces, decadent fish tanks, blue neon tinges and sexy booth seats. Perfect for those who like to dress to impress and go all in on Seduction 101.
Décor aside, no one can question the food. Providing you like dim sum and are happy to pay a little more for it, this is such a treat. First up on the September surprise menu is a Dim Sum Platter from head chef Tong Chee Hwee – experimental enough to provide immediate conversational fodder on the date. The contents within ( which must be kept to yourself): a wild fungus and pomegranate dumpling; a lychee scallop puff and a spicy lamb and fig dumpling. All a little unusual tasting and, in true Yauatcha fashion, nothing short of delicious – the fruity tang of the scallop puff is genius!
Typical must haves are the infamous venison puffs, sticky rice in a lotus leaf, anything with crab in it, chilli squid and lobster dumplings. Drink-wise, it’s fancy Asian beer or cocktail hour. The food, although bite size, is rich and filling so just cleanse that palate with a straight up martini with a citrus twist. The signature Hakka (Belvedere vodka, Akashi-Tai sake, lychee, lime, coconut and passion fruit) is a good call for cocktail lovers who like their drinks sweet, strong and themed to the meal.
Yauatcha is a game changer unto itself. Start off with drinks in Soho before. Choose La Bodega Negra if you already know your date is worth it and a pub nearby if still trying to figure that out. If things aren’t going so well and you or your date are thinking about calling it a night after the pre-drinks, this is the time to drop the restaurant’s name and see if they reconsider. Even with the biggest cringer in the world- I’m just one of those guys who likes food, ya know?- you’ll be able to pull a date back from the abyss. With many of the dishes coming in threes, there’s something romantic about splitting morsels or selflessly offering your date the final puff. In the face of great food, if a date shows generous concern about sacrificing their experience for yours, there’s nothing more attractive. It may also indicate a general selflessness that is always applauded further down the line.
It’s been around a long time so the crowd seems less Soho chic than it may once have been.
5. It’s such a solid date option. Enough cocktails to get you in the mood, great lighting and food that can look seductive eating it. The location also means that you can head from bar to bar after the meal, until they’ve warmed up to you. For drinks afterwards, ECC, Opium or the W hotel bar work well.