Yauatcha City – which opened back in May 2015 – is a fancy standout amongst the eating holes in the City’s popular (for the suits) Broadgate Circle, EC2’s shiny office/retail/eating/drinking district. Though more corporate, the City version of Yauatcha isn’t too far removed from the Soho original – think upmarket, pretty Cantonese dishes, served in a glam restaurant. It’s London’s second outpost of Alan Yau’s, high-end Hakkasan dining chain and fittingly sits resplendent on the upper tier of the Circle.
In design, the restaurant borrows many of the plush deign cues from their Michelin (ex) gonged Soho stalwart. There’s a patisserie cabinet filled with jaw-droppingly stunning French technique inspired patisserie. The space is huge and slightly oddly shaped given it occupies an entire semi-circle of Broadgate Circle. But the restuarant is cleverly split up into different sections and so it feels more like a collection of smaller dining rooms and bar areas. Service, though, can be a hit and miss and not particularly attentive nor polite.
For the food, it’s undoubtedly one of the best places for dim sum and top-class dumplings in London. Dim Sum directly translates into “touch of the heart”. Originally a snack designed for a bit of roadside nourishment for hungry travellers along the historic Silk Road, it’s elevated well above street food dining at Yauatcha. To start, we went for the Vegan dim sum platter (£28) featuring edamame truffle dumplings, wild mushroom dumplings, golden squash dumplings and an edamame puffs. What’s good about this place is that they bring the condiments to go alongside as standard, including soya sauce and a moreish sweet chilli dip with all the umami flavour you could hope for. Also unmissable are the slinky pieces of cucumber, which have just the right amount of pickling.
The edamame truffle was a revelation: vibrant green, encasing water chestnut and yam bean, the texture was bouncy but with a good bite, and the truffle flavour sung through. An absolute treat. Probably the standout from the selection. The wild mushroom – featuring shiitake, shimeji and oyster – was a celebration of earthy notes. The bright and enticing golden squash dumpling – which is undoubtedly a standout for its looks – is garnished with pine nuts and coriander and absolteuly faultless. Sweet yet spicy, it’s delivers that harmony of Cantonese flavours that you come to Yauautcha for.
The edamame puff was executed to perfection: crisp, multi-layered pastry that evidently blossomed in the oven, encasing a decliate edamame and seaweed filling.
For mains, we went for Spicy aubergine with sato bean, okra, French beans and peanuts (£16). The sato beans stood out: also known as “stink” or “smelly” bean, they have a distinct bitter flavour, here well-managed with the sweet chilli spicing. This may be a stinky bean but it’s one full of flavours. The ingredients showcased the care Yauatcha place into sourcing the best ingredients. Everything is super fresh.
Alongside, we ordered Stir-fired long beans (£15) full of flavour with ginger, garlic and a black bean sauce.
The silken tofu with shiitake mushrooms (£16) appeared to be missing the mushrooms. But served with a toban sauce and bell peppers it was a textural joy: spongy tofu, a saucy finish and a salsa-like topping.
The fragrant fried rice (£13) with edamame and a soy crumble was an inviting green and topped with a crunchy rick cracker, perfect for dipping into those condiments and the saucy veggie mains.
Also not to miss are the cocktails. Given Margarita is my go-to, I went for the Szechuan take on this Mexican classic. Spiced with chilli, Szechuan pepper, lime, pinepapple, agave, mazcal and mint, it had just the balance amount of spicy kick.
Yauatcha is definitely a strong City asset and an example of how the City is trying to become something of a ‘thing’ in its own right, somewhere to socialise at the weekend, outside of working hours and in its own right. Though still a bit far-stretched, Yauatcha City is definitely a top option for a working lunch or dinner.
Yauatcha City, Broadgate, London EC2M 2QS