Yauatcha – Soho

Reviewed on February 8th, 2012 by Dina

For Chinese New Year this year, we were lucky to have our family member from overseas in town for it! To make it an extra special celebration, we went to Alan Yau’s Michelin-starred Yauatcha restaurant in Soho. This finally fulfilled yet another one of my dreams and that was to go and dine at a Michelin-starred restaurant!

Yauatcha has a blue theme with a wonderful fish tank along one wall of the restaurant. Just inside the entrance is the counter fridge displaying the many eye catching desserts. The soft lighting sets the mood of the restaurant.  There is some cushioned seating and also some round white tables and dark leather chairs.

Two floors make up the dining area with the lower level having a livelier vibe. There are little alcoves decorated with tea lights and a panelled low level beige and dark wood ceiling.

The waitress was really friendly and so welcoming. She made our time at Yauatcha feel very personal and special. We were instantly put at ease and made to feel comfortable. All throughout the meal, she made sure that everything was okay. The menu was explained thoroughly and we learnt a lot about the many different teas that Yauatcha serves, from the normal black teas right through to the blue teas!

About the teas, the big dark tea caddies lined the shelves along the back wall of the restaurant. The tea was served by the pot.

Instead of the tea this time though, I was taken by the Hakkasan Virgin cocktail. This is a speciality of Hakkasan restaurants, which Yauatcha is a part of. This sweet cocktail was truly amazing! It was a combination of lychee, passion fruit and coconut. If you like Pina Colada, then the Hakkasan Virgin cocktail could be your new favourite drink! It has the right amount of coconut so that it is not a heavy drink.

Yauatcha does food of a high quality and all of the dishes were presented beautifully. The portion sizes were big, which took us by surprise, as we were expecting them to be quite small. After we had finished our starters, we were given clean fresh plates for us to have our main meal. All through the meal, the staff cleared up the crumbs from the table and made sure that our table remained clean and clutter free.

So, now onto the food. We had a pretty fantastic selection of starters and mains and made sure that we had some room left for the desserts.

Two lotus leaf parcels were filled with sticky rice, tasty chicken and dried shrimp. The prawn toast were three round balls packed full of juicy prawn and coated with sesame seeds.

The char sui cheung fun had a delicious barbecued pork filling. The outer white coating was not too thin or too sticky. The chilli squid was coated with oatmeal and curry leaf. This sounded like an odd combination, especially with the crumbly oatmeal, but the flavours definitely worked. The squid was really soft and moist.

As for the meat dishes, none of them disappointed. The classic crispy aromatic duck was a plate of tender shredded duck. The meat was not at all fatty and it had a great crispy skin. Small thin warm pancakes, together with cucumber matchsticks, strips of spring onion and finally the plum sauce were perfect for the duck wraps.

Another great meat choice was the sweet and sour Berkshire pork. These ribs were coated in a sweetish sauce and again the meat was cooked so well, that it just fell off the bone.

That all made up our first round of food! An interesting main dish was the Mongolian style venison. This was in a butter and black pepper sauce. This was the first time that I had ever had venison. I was expecting it to be a really heavy dense chewy meat, but this definitely wasn’t the case. The chunks of venison were melt in the mouth and it was beautifully cooked. It reminded me a bit of lamb.

The venison dish also had big slices of peppers and onions. There was a vegetable in this dish that we really could not tell what it was. It was slightly spongy like aubergine but also was a bit like courgette. As we couldn’t identify it, we asked our waitress what it was. She solved our mystery by telling us that it was the trumpet mushroom and also gave us some information on it!

The traditional style fried sea bass were two fillets of fish. These were with an osmanthus sauce. The fish had a light delicate flavour.

Our vegetable dish of spicy aubergine, sato bean, okra and french bean was wonderful. The skinless aubergine chunks still had some firmness to them. The vegetables were not at all over cooked.

Lastly, we had a stir fried udon noodle dish. The noodles were coated in a black pepper sauce and had strips of vegetables running through it.

We were surprised that we didn’t need any rice to go with our main meal! This was a good choice as it meant that we truly got to appreciate all the flavours and textures of the cuisine.

The desserts all looked so tempting and we were spoilt for choice. Luckily, there were a few of us dining, so we got to have a selection and sample the different delights.

As it was another special occasion, a slightly late birthday celebration, one of the desserts was presented differently for the birthday girl! The rose flower shaped raspberry delice was presented on a slate, with a scoop of ice cream, fresh raspberries and wafer thin chocolate. The raspberry delice had a soft chocolate centre, raspberry sauce, biscuit and had a red powder like coating.

Three big sesame seed balls were served warm. They had a crispy outer and the inner had an oozing black sesame seed centre. It was actually quite a nice dessert!

A dark plate contained the colourful macaroons. The selection that we had were cherry, coconut and strawberry. They had the crunchy outer and a chewy softer inside, just like they should be!

Saving the best till last, was my favourite of coconut charlotte! This was a combination of white chocolate, coconut, mint and basil. There was a thin layer of mango puree running through this dessert.

Yauatcha definitely gets my vote! It is an amazing place and the food was absolutely wonderful! Dining at Yauatcha, we got to sample new tastes and items. All of which impressed me thoroughly!

Yauatcha, 15-17 Broadwick Street, Soho, London, W1F 0DL

Rating: ★★★★★

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Mrs Marengo’s – Soho

Reviewed on May 23rd, 2011 by Dina

Nestled in the heart of Soho is this lovely cake shop! Mrs Morengo’s is a small cafe made up of only a few white tables and pink cushioned high stools! There are quite a lot of cakes, some displayed in the window, others along the side shelf and the rest by the main counter.

Most of the cakes were displayed uncovered and there were only about three cakes that were protected by the cake covers. As we’re not fans of uncovered food, this really did limit our choice. This was a shame as all of the cakes looked delicious and had tempting names!

For our tea and cake afternoon, we had the lemon and pistachio cake, and the chocolate and pecan brownie. The square portions of the cakes were of a good size!

The lemon and pistachio cake was tangy and really moist. It was topped with a layer of chopped pistachios in a lemony sauce. The combination worked well!

I didn’t try the chocolate and pecan brownie. But just from looking at it, it looked really rich and would be a good choice for someone that loves chocolate! It was topped with a few pecan halves!

We had the Early Grey tea to share. This was served in a small metal teapot and there was enough for a couple of cups each.

The staff at Mrs Morengo’s were friendly and relaxed! They gave good service and didn’t rush us, even though it was coming close to closing time!

Mrs Morengo’s is a nice cake shop to go to if you are looking for a quality sweet treat! It’s a shame that the seating is quite limited.

Mrs Morengo’s, 53 Lexington Street, Soho, London, W1F 9AS

Rating: ★★★★☆

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Le Pain Quotidien – Soho

Reviewed on November 13th, 2008 by Dina

We’ve been to Le Pain Quotidien many a time and it is good at any time of the day! It’s great to go early in the morning when the pastries are all fresh.

They do good quality croissants and pain au chocolat. The granola with yogurt could have done with more yogurt to balance out the amount of granola. I’ve tried their muffins and thought that they were tasty and not overly sweet. The individual fresh fruit tarts always look tempting too!

The organic mezze platter is great to share. It comprises of hummus, babaganoush (aubergine salad) and aubergine and tomato. The bread that comes with it is usually rye bread but you can ask for any bread from their selection. It is all very moreish!

The coffees, teas and hot chocolates are all good. They do serve soy milk. Their freshly squeezed orange juice is OK. I did like the Luscombe bottled juices that they do.

I really like the wooden decor in Le Pain Quotidien and the rustic feel that this bistro has. It has a big communal table as well as individual seating. The staff are always friendly and accommodating to any special dietary requests.

Le Pain Quotidien, 18 Great Marlborough Street, London, W1F 7HS

Rating: ★★★★★

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