Hakkasan created a bit of a flutter when it launched in Bandra, making much of its Michelin starred past. Dimsum wielding sibling Yauatcha took a few months longer and made less of a splash, but that's where I found myself a few days ago for dinner. And again today for lunch.
Yauatcha claims some fame for its dim sums, so after I manoeuvred past its colourful macaroon display, up the stairs to its high, whitemarbled bar dim sum was the first thing I ordered. A poached dimsum in schezwan sauce dutifully landed up (it would have been beautifully presented if the lights had allowed me to see much more than a dim outline). As the dinner progressed, crispy vegetable cheung fun, chicken soup dim sum, asparagus and a succession of others followed. Somewhere down the line, Singapore noodles and fried rice also joined in.
First, there was the drink. Bar prices have been floating up in Mumbai for a while, but this hipster hangout from London has clearly decided not to discriminate in the third world; the prices are firmly first world hedge-fund paradise. At Yauatcha the bar menu requires more than a mere expense account – a personal fortune or trust fund will get closer to the mark. Here it is not unusual to see four digit prices on small pegs, and once in a while even a fifth digit takes a bow. My Old Fashioned with a twist of aged aged tequila fell in low four figure territory; I nursed it the old fashioned way – very slowly.
Then there's the food. Yauatcha was much acclaimed in London for taking common street food to high society - and tries to do much the same thing here. Maybe the need for a long list of veggie dim sums crimps the chef's style (there being no such thing on the streets of China), but the menu somewhat lacks in spectacular winners. Most of what we tasted was quite nice, some even very nice, but nothing made me jump up and down with joy. The best dim sum of the day was the wonderfully unusual crispy cheung fun, but I thought the noodles and the fried rice were very nice too – indeed better than most of the dim sums. The raspberry delice at the end was beautiful to look at, and utterly delicious (though not remotely Chinese). The food prices are high (though nowhere near the stratospheric heights of the drinks) but that seems more for the ambience (and some ultra-attentive service) than the cooking.
Maybe I'm judging it too harshly. It is nice, refined food in a very nice atmosphere. The teas are wonderful. Some of the dim sums are very good, some main courses fantastic. If you work in BKC and stick to dry days, Yauatcha is a great choice for the splurge meal. If you expect the world's best dim sums a flight ticket to Hong Kong is still the way to go; it may even be a little cheaper when you factor in the free drinks in-flight.