15-17 Broadwick St
Annually on the 15th day of the 8th lunar month (around September and October), the Chinese community get together to celebrate what is known as the Mid-Autumn Festival (also known as the Moon Festival or Mooncake Festival). This is a tradition which dates back as far as the 16th to 10th century BC and was historically a celebration of the harvest during the autumn full moon. Now-a-days, it is most commonly associated with two things:
1) Mooncakes: a Chinese pastry product with a rich thick filling usually made from red bean or lotus seed paste surrounded by a thin (2–3 mm) crust and may contain yolks from salted duck eggs; and
2) A maaaaa-hu-sive meal.
The combination of these two things is what makes this one of my favourite times of the year (behind only Christmas and Chinese New Year).
To get us in the festive mood, T and I decided to go large with Yauatcha – if we’re going for Chinese, then let’s go for CHINESE (well, it’s not Michelin starred for being average!).
Located deep in trendy Soho since its opening in 2004, Yauatcha is designed to retain the feel of a traditional Chinese teahouse but which has undergone a big modern face lift. Their specialty is modern authentic dim sum (as the three pages of choices would suggest – they have 5 types of shiu mai! I have only every known one!) but they also offer a full al carte menu of plated dishes and treats from the patisserie counter. For the drinkers don’t fret, there’s an equally comprehensive cocktail menu.
On this visit, we ordered the har gau (prawn dumplings), pork and prawn shiu mai (pork and prawn dumplings) and wagyu beef puff to kick things off; followed by the Dover sole with shiitake and soya, baby pak choi with salted fish and vegetable fried rice.
Hands down the har gau was one of the best I’ve had in Londres but that is to be expected considering it was to Michelin standard. What stood out for me though was how generous – all the size of a ping-pong ball and had 2 king prawns in them. Delicious. The shiu mai were also of the highest standard no doubt due to the quality of the ingredients used.
The wagyu beef puff however was my winner – I thought it was exceptional. The pastry was so light and flaky it was reminiscent of butterfly pastry and the beef filling was pure gravy heaven. Don’t forget this from your order!
The dim sum were a hard act to follow but the mains were up to the challenge. The pak choi with salted fish was solid but the Dover sole was exceptional – the fish was cooked just right and the soya sauce was really tangy with a hint of sweet which complemented the fish really well. The vegetable fried rice provided to be a more than adequate accompaniment for the two dishes and had a fantastic full flavour without being too oily (which bad fried rice has a danger of being).
And with that, the meal was over signifying the end of the Mid-Autumn festival for 2013 and the beginning of the countdown to 2014. But wait, something doesn’t seem right…something is missing but I can’t put my finger on it…jokes I totally put my fingers on it shortly before I put it in my face…