The colour red has so many associations; love, danger, courage, sin and sexuality. In Chinese culture it is synonymous with good luck, happiness, fortune, fertility and passion. Which is why at Chinese New Year special red packets containing money are given out as gifts and red decorations are hung. With 2017 being the Year of Rooster, symbolising fire and fortune, Yauatcha are celebrating the colour red with a very special menu.
Michelin-starred Yauatcha in Soho has long been our favourite place for dim sum but this weekend was Mr S’s first time trying out their latest branch. Yauatcha City opened in May 2015, and I was keen to introduce my husband to the younger sibling of our perennial favourite.
Kicking off the celebrations with a vibrant cocktail, the ‘Red Moutai’ has been created exclusively for Chinese New Year and contains the Chinese spirit Moutai baijiu, mixed with vodka, pineapple and elderflower. The sweet cocktail made me think of a Jewish tradition that we always keep up, apples dipped in honey for a sweet new year… a lovely and positive way to start a feast.
Executive Head Chef, Tong Chee Hwee has created a very special dim sum dish to celebrate the New Year and the ritual of giving red pockets. A distinctive red casing and delicious flavour make these truffle crabmeat dumplings a must order.
We were both big fans of the wagyu beef dumpling, succulent rich meat encased in the crunchiest of pastry and with a refreshing slight tangy dipping sauce.
Though both of these delicious morsels were part of the Chinese new year menu, the full à la carte was available too.
From this we ordered steamed lobster dumplings, full to bursting with a fat and juicy portion of the seafood and topped with caviar.
A quartet of chicken shu mai dumplings were perhaps a little less lively in flavour than their spicy counter parts but truly came to life when dipped in hot chilli sauce or with ginger and garlic.
Though Yauatcha specialises in dim sum, it’s basically impossible for Mr S to visit a Chinese restaurant without ordering crispy duck. Fortunately, it’s still on the menu here and he ordered a quarter portion to satisfy his appetite without getting too full!
The duck here is very good but if you want something truly sensational, I’d recommend trying Yauatcha’s sister restaurant, HKK. I’d particularly recommend trying the duck and champagne menu here, served on Saturdays for a very reasonable £49 per person.
Our final flash of red for the savoury courses was a beautifully cooked steamed sea bass, enhanced with pickled chilli and a portion of Chinese broccoli.
Desserts are always a highlight a Yauatcha with the patisserie reaching international fame. It’s the only restaurant dim sum restaurant in London that serves Chinese food alongside European desserts. Each of the magnificent desserts are painstakingly created, often using Chinese ingredients, to make sure that the whole menu coheres.
As part of the Chinese New Year celebrations, the pastry team have created ten petits gateaux in the thematic red, with some regular favourites as well new flavours. Both of us selected desserts from the signature menu…
My chocolate pebble was light, almost like a mousse, with a very best single estate chocolate, caramelised white chocolate, the perfect quenelle of ice cream and little hunks of brownie. Not only utterly delicious but beautiful to look at, topped with a shiny piece of gold leaf. Usually a chocolate brown the dessert is red for new year, and I detected notes of cherry in the flavouring.
The famous and utterly Instagrammable raspberry delice didn’t need much alteration to fit with the red theme.
The beautiful rose shape and red colour belies the chocolate beneath, a rich decadence is undercut by the zing of lychee. Almost too beautiful to eat. Almost.
An espresso martini was the perfect way to round off a faultless meal at Yauatcha City, a restaurant that will remain one of my favourites for years to come.
After lunch we were going our separate ways, Mr Silver to the football, and me back home. But there was just time to admire the beautiful glowing lanterns outside the restaurant, celebrating a happy and healthy Year of the Rooster…
The Chinese New Year Menu and festive decorations are available at Yauatcha Soho and Yauatcha City until 11th February
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Our lunch was complimentary.