Yauatcha

Why go here:

It’s the only Michelin starred Dimsum restaurant in London and sister restaurant to the sexy, Michelin-starred Chinese, Hakkasan.

What it looks like:

A Taipei tea house that has been styled into a sleek bar and restaurant with deep blue spotlights producing a starry-sky like ceiling, frosted glass walls and a giant fish tank used to separate the dining area from the kitchen.

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The models of sheep, adorning the bar and corners of the dining area, did seem a little random initially but we realised eventually that this was because the restaurant gets styled each year in line with the Chinese calendar and year 2015 happens to be the Year of the Sheep.

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The food:

We started with drinks at the bar. I tried the Lalu which was made with Belvedere Vodka, Oolong Tea, Lychee and Lemongrass. The drink was very refreshing and you could taste every single component.

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Getting onto food, we started with Pork and Prawn Shui Mai and Char Siu Cheung Fun.

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The dishes were both carefully prepared and very delicious but my favourite was the dish I had next – the Pork Wontons.

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These were sweet and spicy and were served in a bowl of tangy garlic and peanut sauce.  The roast Duck and Pumpkin Puffs with Pine nuts, one of Yauatcha’s signature dishes, were also very delish- the pastry was sweet and crispy and the filling of warm, roast duck and crispy pine nuts had great texture and flavour.

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Verdict:

While Hakkasan may remain my favourite of these Michelin-starred sisters due to the more extensive and experimental menu offered, Yauatcha is a must try in every right because the Dimsums here are beautifully crafted and some of the most delectable ones you can find anywhere in the country.

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Hakkasan

Why go here:

This is London’s first Chinese restaurant to have been awarded a Michelin star and still remains one of the city’s best high-end Chinese restaurants.

What it looks like:

Hakkasan has often been described as the sexiest restaurant in London and you start feeling the seduction the moment you step into the slate-walled corridor with dim lighting that leads into the dining room which has a mysterious icy blue gleam and flickering candles all around. This is definitely a venue to be dressed up for. After all, you don’t want the restaurant to look sexier than you, right?

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The food:

I had heard mixed reviews regarding the value of money for the food here. In my opinion, the dishes are well worth every penny and I am not even including a markup for the ambience. What does tend to shoot the bill up for most people is admittedly the alcohol. I recommend ordering Sake by the tokkuri- the small flask fared me well for the entire meal and was quite reasonably priced. For starters, I ordered the crispy duck salad with peanuts which was sticky, crunchy, sweet and spicy, all at the same time! The dish is a lot more than a salad and a must try in my opinion, if you like duck.

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For mains, I had the Jasmine tea Smoked Chicken and the Morning Glory stir fry with the Singapore Vermicelli with prawns and squid. Firstly, I was pleasantly surprised by how large the portion sizes were, which might have been one of the reasons I felt that the prices were actually quite justified.

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The chicken was tender and had a beautiful smoky flavour. It also had this pale salmon-like tinge from being smoked in the Jasmine tea. The morning glory, a green vegetable which looks like french beans and tastes like spinach, was stir fried in a spicy chilli and garlic chilli sauce and went well with the vermicelli.

My only complain regarding Hakkasan would be the service times – tables are required to be given up within 2 hours so it would be helpful if the food was served promptly. But it is understandable that with the preparation and skill going into each of these dishes, they can’t match fast food service times. In any case, the service was very attentive with the waiters helping guests with their coats and even walking them to the washrooms, which do have slightly confusing signs (and yes, I did almost walk into the men’s..)

Verdict:

Sexy settings and innovative, delicious Cantonese food make this a must try. Given the time limit on the tables, I advice you to decide what you wish to get in advance to maximise the time you have left to enjoy your food.