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Wednesday 25 January 2017

Red is the Colour – The Year of the Rooster Chinese New Year Menu at Yauatcha City

Name: Yauatcha City 

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

Cost: From the Chinese New Year (CNY) red menu, there are two dim sum platters at £7.80 each; one lamb salad at £18, three main dish options priced from £7.80 to £29 and all red patisserie desserts cost a lucky £8.80. If you were to order all dishes from the red CNY menu, it would cost £70.60 per person including a £12.50 cocktail.

About: To celebrate 2017 Chinese New Year, the Year of the Rooster, Yauatcha is offering a special meal, themed around the traditional celebration of the colour red. 

In China, red is synonymous with the New Year, symbolic of good luck, prosperity and joy. The colour corresponds with fire, an element considered to provide warmth, enthusiasm and creativity.

Paying homage to this significant festive colour, Yauatcha’s pastry team has created a range of ten petits gateaux each decorated a vibrant shade of red, alongside a red cocktail using the Chinese spirit baijiu and a red dim sum platter, available from 16th January until 11th February.

In addition, other savoury dishes are infused with Sichuanese red chilli in keeping with this theme, making for a delicious and spicier dining experience at Yauatcha. 

Yauatcha is my favourite dim sum restaurant in London and their Supreme Saturday set menu at £49 per person including a pre-lunch and a post-lunch cocktail, half a bottle of wine per person, plus a four-course meal is arguably one of the best lunch deals in the capital right now. I highly recommend it, see my earlier review here.

What We Ate: The Year of the Rooster menu offers a selection of festive dishes including one each steamed and fried dim sum, three main course options and dessert. The menu is not set, so diners can choose whatever dishes they want to try from it while having other dishes from the regular menu. But we wanted to sample all the CNY dishes and had just enough room to try them all!

The steamed red dim sum came in the form of a delectable truffled crabmeat dumpling with prawn and asparagus, and topped with black tobiko caviar (£7.80). Freshly made, the casing was light and delicate while fillings of seafood and heady truffles made for a combination to be remembered.

The fried dim sum was fried Wagyu beef dumplings (£7.80) - with unctuous beef, black and white fungus, coriander and gong choi Chinese vegetable, the dumplings were delicious served with a delicate chicken stock. 

The word 'Málà' refers to the defining tastes of Sichuan: má, numbing Sichuan pepper, and là, spicy chili pepper, and sure enough the mala lamb salad with jelly fish (£18) had a wonderful kick of pepper heat. Chargrilled tender strips of lamb were served with jellyfish, pickled cucumber, red pepper, enoki mushrooms, red onion, finely sliced lotus root, and sweet potato crisps. This was delicious in its array of textures and one of my favourite dishes on the menu.

The steamed seabass with pickled red chilli and goji berries, was served on a bed of gai lan vegetables, known as Chinese broccoli or kale (£29). Again with bracing chilli heat and delicate flesh, the fish was utterly delicious, although to my mind as delicious at they were, three small fillets at this price level seemed a little steep.

Better still was the seafood braised rice in lotus leaf (£18) – this had a generous serving of plump fresh prawns, as well as dried shrimps and scallops which added depth and umami to the dish, asparagus, shiitake mushroom, eggs and carrot. The rice was braised in chicken supreme stock then steamed in lotus leaf, which made it absorb some of the lovely aromas from the leaf. This was a magnificent dish.

Best of all though was the lunar chicken (£18) served in clay pot – this had cured Chinese pork sausage, courgette, shiitake mushroom, chestnuts and rice cakes, laced with turmeric, Sichuan pepper and soy sauce. The rice cakes were a revelation – they added a wonderful texture to the dish and were a great companion to the chicken. I must try replicating this at home!

And now on to the desserts - from the red patisserie menu (all priced at £8.80), we had the stunningly presented chocolate pebble with creme fraiche ice cream. 

The coffee hazelnut macaron with chocolate panna cotta was deliciously gooey and nutty, served with coffee ice cream. In my opinion, few restaurants in London can do patisserie like Yauatcha – I tend to be more of a savoury kind of diner, but if there is a restaurant I always make room for dessert, it is here!

What We Drank: We started with the Red Cocktail (£12.50), a blend of the Chinese spirit Baijiu with pineapple, Bison Grass vodka, elderflower vermouth, and Suze apertif. Served with some dinky dried rose buds, this had a combination of sweet, astringent and red berry fruit flavours.

With our meal, we shared a bottle of Albarino 'Marinero', Terras Gauda 2015, from Rias Baixas, Spain (£45) which was fresh and with bracing minerality.

Likes: For me, highlights were the lamb salad, the lunar chicken pot and the seafood braised rice in lotus leaf. Also the wonderful patisserie desserts and the refreshing cocktail. These were special celebratory dishes, unlike any Chinese meal I have eaten before. Well conceived, novel and interesting, I would love to try them again.  

Dislikes: None.

Verdict: Yauatcha City’s is my favourite Year of the Rooster CNY menu in London right now. Generous, delicious and very reasonably priced, our meal was nothing short of magnificent. Very highly recommended.

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