Yauatcha – the road less travelled
Innovation is the name of the game
Yauatcha reminds one of Robert Frost’s poem ‘The road not taken’. Any place that strives for excellence is worthy of admiration. What sets Yauatcha apart is the fact that it takes the innovative road to get there. The dessert counter is placed rather temptingly right at the entrance so be sure to survey the potentials before you walk up the staircase. The wide windows alongside one wall let in a lot of light. The cream and brown décor manages to convey an informal, airy feel during the day.
Teeing off at the tea-house
Our server made it a point to inform us that Yauatcha was a ‘tea-house’ where the focus is on the dimsum rather than formalized, course-driven meals. When in Rome, do as the Romans! So we promptly ordered a whole lot of starters.
The charcoal lamb bun arrived first at the table. My-oh-my they were a cute-as-button trio. Nestled artfully on the plate, they looked almost too good to eat! The smoky meat enclosed in the soft bun was a treat. Up next as a textural and visual contrast were the Messi crabmeat rolls (no longer on the menu!). Evidently a football fan in the kitchen ! The crisp, vermicelli coating enclosed the soft, flavourful crabmeat. A winner for sure!
Next up, the Prawn cheung fun – changed to the crispy version as per our server’s suggestion. This is when the meal went from great to the sublime. The one unmissable signature dish in this place! I used to think the Royal China cheung fun was good but this was at some other level of gastronomical pleasure. Imagine a crispy coated fried prawn roll which is then encased in soft and light-as-a-feather rice noodle steamed coating. While the palate is delighting in this contrast of textures the mind is trying to figure out the paradox. How does the crispy coating stay crispy when the chenug fun is steamed?
I would need a continuous supply of the Cheung funs (appropriately named alright) while I try to grapple with this serious problem and solve it detective style. Of course necessitating numerous visits to Yauatcha. Quite like how Captain Haddock spends the whole (sleepless) night experimenting when queried on whether he sleeps with his beard over or under the blanket!
A sense of relaxed hysteria (the Cheung fun teaches us that such a paradox is possible) overtakes us at this point in our meal. We decide to keep the dimsum dimsuming along. The sesame prawns on toast are next, served on baguettes instead of conventional toast. Next up, the piquant Thai prawn salad with mango.
My Asian green soup with tofu arrives at the table. I expected it to be a clear soup with Tofu and greens and in true Yauatcha style it is the exact opposite. A thick soup with no visible greens (bamboo shoots and beansprouts are it). One soup spoon later I am hooked to the smoky flavour. At this rate we will keep eating the exact same dishes every time we come here, they are all so good!
Our sort of main course arrives next. A mound of spicy stir fried tiger prawns in a sweet-n-sour kinda sauce. Some excellent Emperor’s seafood fried rice accompanies this. The fried rice is another Yauatcha surprise. Seems more in the steamed rather than fried class. This turns out to be the son’s favourite which I am sure he will order every single time we are here.
Update from a dinner visit
The open, airy feel to the place transforms at night aided by clever lighting. Into a sophisticated place to catch up with friends. Among the dumplings, the truffle edamamae dumpling is to die for. The umami taste (5th element as far as sweet, salty, sour and bitter flavours go) of the truffles ensures we fight over these and inevitably end up ordering a second portion. The shiitake mushroom dumplings were quite ordinary while the prawn and water chestnut dumpling wrapped in spinach was bursting with freshness.
The chicken satay buns were nicely flavoured served atop a crab chutney. Don’t miss the Panang prawn noodles. A mix of 2 types of noodles tossed in chilli oil, it’s a signature dish. We had the crispy grouper in Thai chilli sauce which was superb – almost too artistic and good looking to eat, almost! It’s quite dry though, so make sure you order a gravy dish alongside. The pepper lamb can be had as an appetizer or as a main course – great flavours work their magic on tender meat.
Artful desserts – could do with some taste tuning
We settle down to the extremely difficult task of selecting our desserts. We chose the Raspberry delice and the Jasmine tea cake. So much has been written about them that I will not eulogize further. Suffice to say that they were good but not in the La Folie league.
We picked up a few macarons on the way out – they are supposed to be the best in town, so I had heard but the salted caramel flavour we picked was probably not the best. Desserts were good but I guess so many people are inventive around these that the Yauatcha advantage is not felt quite as much here as it is in the rest of the menu.
The road less travelled
The small plate philosophy ensures a whole lot of choice. It’s a different matter that you will develop favourites. These you will be tempted to reorder every visit! The food not only tastes great, the presentation and plating take it to the next level. You will count down the days till you are back. So you can work our way though every single dish of the innovative menu! Salut and a reverential bow to innovation always!
A dimsum fan? Checkout Asian style tapas at Foo