Ive spent nearly seven years making it my mission to eat out in London, and in all that time I’ve had Yauatcha on my wish list. So why have I waited this long? A crop of seriously bad reviews all focusing on one unforgivable flaw; service, or lack thereof. If you’ve read my previous rant, you’ll know that this one annoyance is enough to send me running for the hills. In fact, I’d rather stuff my gullet with the nuclear experiment that passes for food at Macdonalds than treat myself to a gourmet meal garnished with bad attitude and drizzled with slow service.
However, I decided it was time to bite the bullet and take the risk, seeing as they do have those bloody good desserts I keep hearing about. So I took a friend, an equally pinickity young lady, and off we went through the lion’s den. As imagined, we were transported into a buzzy, dark and slick atmosphere complete with fish tanks adding a zen-like element. I believe the purpose of this last aesthetic addition is to lull you into a calm state of meditation. Handy when you begin to lose your patience after 20 mins of waiting time before an order is taken, and then again at the tail end of your meal to get your bill.
In between that finger-tapping wait, the table was filled with an array of fried, baked and grilled dim sum options. The most notable of these was the sweet potato mushroom mei-si roll and the spicy aubergine, sato bean, okra and french bean with peanut. The rest were pretty much forgettable and that included the spicy soft shell crab, which unfortunately was let down by the mountain of greasy toasted almonds smothering the succulent crab meat. The other thing I noticed is that everything starts to taste same-y and there was a monumental lack of dipping sauces tailored to each dish, which meant they all started to merge into one big baked, fried or grilled dish dipped in shrimp paste (or watered down encona sauce if your going with the vegetarian option).
So that’s the mains done, now onto dessert, which lets face it was the real reason we were there. My friend opted for the raspberry delice and I (in my ‘I’ve just finished the last of my salted caramels and must get more’ neurosis) opted for the salted caramel with peanuts and chocolate.
My friend’s dessert looked like a triumph and tasted so too. Lucky cow. Mine on the other hand looked like it got mixed up with a steamed dumpling, as it came coated in a strange gelatinous skin. This strange gluey stuff seemed unlikely to break off even with the aid of a fork, without an effort akin to an air hostess signalling the emergency exits (here, here and here). Eventually, when I was able to get through it, my tastebuds were met with what was basically a snickers bar. Nothing inventive there. This was most disappointing as it was supposed to be the high point, and well, it wasn’t.
To be honest, on food alone, there’s not a great deal standing between Yauatcha and lets say, Ping Pong (including the disposable chopsticks as my wise friend noted), and at least the latter would leave your wallet feeling somewhat heftier at the end of the night. Thankfully, Yauatcha managed to just about redeem itself from being a complete disappointment with some bloody good martini’s, which we glugged down consolingly.