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Tuesday 14 July 2015

The New Yauatcha City - "Better Call Lim!"

Name: Yauatcha City

Where: Broadgate Circle, 2 Broadgate, London, EC2M 7UR, http://www.yauatcha.com/city/

Cost: Dim sum from £4.20 to £9.80, mains from £15 to £138, average cost per person £50 upwards (drinks not included)

About: Opened in May 2015, Yauatcha City is the second Yauatcha branch in London after Soho, and part of the Hakkasan group of restaurants. There are also four Yauatcha branches in India.

Yauatcha is one of my favourite dim sum eateries in London, and one of the few places I return to regularly (reviewed here and here). The City branch’s setting is gorgeous, the restaurant being arranged in a semi-circle with floor-to-ceiling windows overlooking Broadgate Circle, an ideal spot for after work drinks and people watching.

With bare brick walls and massive grey ceramic floor tiles, dark wood table-tops on stainless steel bases, and steel and green leather chairs, the restaurant has a contemporary-chic feel about it. Being in the City, the restaurant is open from Monday to Saturday, and is closed on Sundays.

On the evening of our visit, we were lucky enough to meet the restaurant supervisor Lim Siew Hean, a super-friendly and knowledgeable Malaysian woman from Penang, who made some wonderful recommendations for our meal. Lim explained many of the dishes to us in great detail, and her enthusiasm was contagious. It is always such a blessing to meet people like Lim in restaurants. I warned her I would be advising readers to look out for her, and she said she was only too happy to advise.  So if you are planning a visit, better call Lim!

What We Ate: From the dim sum menu, we had one of the restaurant's signature dishes, the prawn and beancurd cheung fun (£8.20).

A stupendous dish of glutinous rice pastry encasing and contrasting with crunchy beancurd skin, wood ear fungus and succulent prawns in its centre, this had magical textures and flavours, which showed off the culinary skills of the chef.

The fried chilli squid with oatmeal and curry leaf (£11.20) was also superb, with a sweet crunchy exterior, crispy dried shrimp, and a kick of heat from the chilli. Lim told us that the oatmeal used is Nestum, a popular Malaysian breakfast cereal which explained the light sweetness, and that the squid was dunked in egg whites before being rolled in Nestum and fried. It was a tremendously sophisticated dish, and one I always order whenever I visit.

The spicy soft shell crab with almond (£13.80) is another favourite so it had to be ordered. Crunchy, spicy, nutty, this dish has so much going for it, I can never get tired of eating it.

The roasted duck puff with pine nuts (£5.80) was also delectable and beautifully presented in the shape of a pumpkin.

We ended our dim sum selection with some refreshing Chinese chive and prawn dumplings (£5.80), and the mandatory pan-fried turnip cake (£5.80).

For our main course, we followed Lim’s recommendation and had the truffle pork belly (£28). We were not disappointed. Served with shimeji mushrooms, baby asparagus and finely diced black truffles, the pork was slow-braised and meltingly tender, basted in a rich reduction made from pork rib stock flavoured with royal honey and edible nasturtium leaves. This was one of the most delicious and richly-flavoured meat dishes I have eaten this year, and one I would highly recommend to anyone visiting the restaurant.

The other main was the Sichuanese kung pau chicken with cashew nut (£15.40), which was also good but outclassed by the pork belly.

The stir-fried ho fun noodle (£11.80) had a deliciously charred aroma from the hot wok (known as “wok breath”), with thin slices of fried beef, flat rice noodles, onions and bean sprouts. A star dish.

To accompany our mains, we had a lovely vegetable sambal dish - typical of Malaysia, this featured spicy aubergine, sato bean (also known stinky bean due to its sulphurous quality), okra and French bean with peanut (£12.20). I often have this in the Soho branch and was pleased to see it on the menu in the City.

Despite having very little room left, we managed to squeeze in a couple of desserts. Yauacha is known for its fine patisserie so desserts are not to be missed there. So Dr G chose the cassis and violet grand macaron, with vanilla cremeux, Cassis and compote (£8.80) while I had the exotic petit gateaux of passion fruit, mango, coconut and pandan (£8.80).

Both were beautifully presented, highly refined French patisserie and bursting with flavour. We enjoyed the desserts with a refreshing glass of Moscato d'Asti 2014, from Vajra, Piemonte, Italy.

What We Drank: At Yauatcha’s Bar, we kicked off with a couple of cocktails - an Asian Daiquiri (£11), and a Golden Aster Martini (£13). The daiquiri blended Diplomatico Reserva rum, plum sake, lime, orange marmalade, vanilla and chilli sugar, and was superbly refreshing with plenty of citrus acidity.  The martini had Buffalo Trace bourbon, Antica formula sweet vermouth, Aperol, and a kick of heat from the addition of saffron and chilli syrup. 

The restaurant balcony overlooking Broadgate Circle is a great place to enjoy a few drinks and for people watching.

There is a large wine selection, with the entry level white wine being a Sylvaner 2012 from Turckheim, Alsace (£28). The reds start with a Cabaletta, Tenute Fiorebelli 2013 from Veneto, Italy (£29).  The wine menu is organised into "Old Friends" - wines largely (although not exclusively) from Europe, familiar from the Soho branch.  "New Friends" are some less well known wines from all over the world, including English sparkling wines, white grapes such as Gruner Veltliner and Rousette de Savoie, and reds like Aghiorghitiko from Nemea, Greece, Blaufrankish from Austria, as well as sakes and cocktails.  

With help from the friendly Spanish sommelier Daniel, we opted for a bottle of Gruner Veltliner Lossterrassen 2014, from Stadt Krems, Kremstal, Austria (£39).  This was very good, with plenty of crisp acidity, greengage fruit and minerality - this was a perfect accompaniment to the dishes we ordered.

Likes: The setting is gorgeous, the food is among the most refined Chinese cooking on offer in London right now. The wine list is extensive and reasonable value for money, and there is a wide-ranging and delicious cocktail list. Restaurant supervisor Lim Siew Hean made our night.

Dislikes: None.

Verdict: Yauatcha serves some of the most sophisticated Chinese cooking in London today. This is the kind of food I look forward to going out for. Desserts are complex, varied and highly recommended so please leave some room. If you pay a visit, be sure to ask for restaurant supervisor Lim Siew Hean for her spot-on recommendation and advice. Very highly recommended. 

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