My friend Lisa and I had a long standing Friday night arrangement at Ping Pong – some cocktails, dim sum and a good ol’ natter about boys. We haven’t seen each other as much since she’s met her boyfriend so we decided another ‘Ping Pong’ night was in order (also so that I could meet the boyo).
Luckily, it was over Lumiere weekend and Ping Pong was heaving. The boy’s eyes sparkle and suggested Yauatcha. Man, I like this guy already! I’ve never really bothered to sway Lisa away from Ping Pong even though there were much better Dim Sum around town – admittedly, it’s because I always thought Yauatcha was a bit dear for a bimonthly cocktail and bitch sesh, and I haven’t found another cocktail/dim sum establishment yet- DON’T TALK TO ME ABOUT DUCK & (fricking) RICE.
We pottered over to Yauatcha and was quoted an hour wait for a table at the bar – ok, we’ll just get a little tipsy then (we were starving!!!). They had a vast cocktail menu and was also happy to produce off menu items. Lisa’s lychee martini was tasty and I was pleasantly surprised that they were happy to make an old fashioned with whatever whisky you wanted. Sadly I’m not made of money, so I’ll continue to only sip Hibiki 17 at home (though I’m convinced it would make one heck of an old fashioned). I chose to have a more reasonable Talisker 10 whiles her boy chose Maker’s Mark (of note here- they didn’t add a cocktail fee to my drink whereas they did for his so my lower-mid shelf cocktail ended up costing the same as his… confusing!) We chatted about how they met over drinks and how I have a hell of a time meeting men – because apparently men stereotype ‘asian massage therapists’. I mean, If I was a hooker, surely I’d be bathing in Yamasaki 50 instead of literally being Colonel Tigh and drawing lines on the whisky bottles (who knows, whisky might be good for the skin, and I’d probably need to be constantly drunk so might as well get some good booze).
By now, Lisa’s decided she needed to set me up with some of his friends but wait a minute, our table (or rather a long bench overlooking the restaurant through an azure looking glass) is ready! After only 30 minutes! Yay! Since the boy lived in Shanghai for a bit and he’s (you know) being manly, after a quick chat of deciding what we all absolutely couldn’t live without, he managed to order a veritable feast for us.
The dim sum was… pretty fantastic. I’ve had better in Hong Kong but you know, that’s Hong Kong. Still a little stodgy and slightly heavy handed for my liking (Ming Jiang is a little more delicate but they hated my angel of a nephew because one day he dared wear squeaky shoes there, so we couldn’t go back-no, we’re not banned but we won’t pay managers who tell little kids off over something they have no particular control over). By then I’ve also been given a Pearl River Rock cocktail, which tasted awesome!!! A mezcal and ginger based drink, it just hit the smoky, sweet, sour spot (and I can’t resist mezcal ever since I visited Cafe no se, home of ilegal mezcal). Basically the cocktails there were really tasty and strong and it was dark and I gave up on taking pictures.
I can, however inform you that the scallop siu mai was great with a good size (perfectly seared) fresh scallop on top of the dumpling (thank god none of these dried tiny scallop business), the wagyu beef and the venison puff were both really tasty- well seasoned, good puff with melt-in-the-mouth filling. For me,the star of the show that evening was the prawn and beancurd cheung fun (recommended by our waiter) which was reminiscent of Zha liang (cheung fun wrapped around fried dough- 炸兩). The contrast between the super crispy fried beancurd sheet, the sweet prawns and the cheung fun itself was fantastic and I would highly recommend it. I wasn’t enamoured with either of the dumplings we ordered (chicken shanghainese and siu long bao) -though the dumpling skin wasn’t terrible per say, I expected a better showing from a restaurant of this caliber.
Sadly we were too full to eat another bite (12 dishes between 3 greedy people were more than enough, I’d say 10 would be fine). We all decided on desserts to go since Yauatcha is also famous for their patisserie. I was (and has been since they first opened) very disappointed that they offer no chinese nor asian fusion cakes/ desserts (apparently no one knows how to fancy up chinese desserts) and chose the Mandarin/Macadamia cake enrobed in chocolate. It was… good-ish. There were parts of it I loved- the crust at the bottom, the mousse and the mandarin jelly. Not sure that the tiny bits of macadamia nuts in the cake was necessary, it just ruined the mouthfeel of the mousse. Also, you couldn’t see your face in the ganache like a mirror and as Marcus says in Masterchef: The Professional’s final round, that’s what it should be like. Lisa went for the Raspberry delice (because boozy buncher Bella loves it) and the boy had the same as myself (my feedback the next morning from them was ‘good’ – hence I’m the one writing this post and not them).
Would I come back? Yes, a heck of a lot more likely than poxy Duck and Rice for sure. At £70 a head (including the cake take out) it wasn’t cheap but we had 2 cocktails each and 12 dishes. The waitstaff here was super attentive (acquiescing to my multiple requests for bowls, spoons and dipping ‘plates’ without batting an eyelid). I’d much rather have cocktail and dim sum 2.0 once every few months than lots of ping pong to be honest and we’d probably keep this tradition on with the new, much improved version rather than our old plebian outings. Perhaps I need to find a much more lucrative profession after all. Or Lisa could set me up with someone who makes significantly more than I do (no, I don’t believe that men should pay for everything, Robyn- this one can be ‘his’ treat and I’ll treat him to Mcdonald’s).
15-17 Berwick Street
020 7484 8888 (reservations highly recommended)