It's been a while since John and I have returned to Yauatcha, the brainchild of restauranteur Alan Yau (Hakkasan, anyone?), but it remains a firm favorite on our list of special places to eat. I was, admittedly, a tad disappointed with my most recent visit, which was - oh, probably over a year ago - when it seemed that the chefs were more concerned with painstakingly shaping the har gau dim sum into animal shapes rather than using quality ingredients.
But I'm happy to report that this had all changed when I went for my birthday meal with John this weekend: the prawns in the har gau were plump and fresh (minus the unnecessary bunny rabbit shape, thank goodness), the wrapping was paper thin, and the other steamed dim sum we ordered was worthy of Yauatcha fame (though, bizarrely, I noticed the chopsticks were now disposable and not dissimilar to those of a Chinese takeaway - not befitting of the type of establishment Yauatcha sets itself out to be, surely). Another warning when being seated in the main dining room is how close in proximity you sit with your fellow diners, all the more opportunities for eager eyes to sneak surreptitious (or in our case, it was rather open gawking) glances at what you've ordered.
John and I selected a series of dim sum dishes, which included the prawn har gau (delicious), pork and prawn shu mai (a bit bland), char siu buns (John's favorite and a childhood favorite of mine as well), chiu chow vegetarian dumplings (the highlight and also named after the region my father is from), deep fried soft shell crab (over seasoned and over populated with a nut garnish), prawn and chive dumplings (beautifully encased in a green wrapper), served with a pot of white tea. It was clear that Yauatcha had returned to its roots of preparing and producing high quality dim sum with fresh ingredients in a sleek, cool (at points, a little too cool) environment.
Though our stomachs were groaning with over-indulgence by the time all our bamboo steamers were cleared, we couldn't resist our sweet tooths and ordered two macaroons to share for dessert, as a small compromise. Yauatcha, as well as for its Asian cuisine, is also famous for its incredibly crafted confectionery and cakes. One visit to the sweet bar at the front of the restaurant will have you turning up your nose at sticky toffee pudding (though that would never happen to me).
This was the perfect and sweetest ending to a wonderful birthday - courtesy of the ever-wonderful John.