And the dim sums fell like rain. Scallop shui mai (Rs 550, plus taxes), a bright yellow shrimp paste flecked with orange tobiko (a caviar); green Spinach Rolls with Water Chestnut speckled with jewels of pomegranate (Rs 255), and fruity Edamame with Truffle explosions (Rs 500). Chicken Shanghai—fried, with crisp plumage rising tall; Crispy Prawn Cheung Fun with its steamed, soft wrappers interspersed with the crunch of fried noodles (Rs 450).
There is delicate artistry in the simplest of Yauatcha’s dishes—from the curl of the dim-sum leaf to the play of textures caused by dices against juliennes.
The Michelin-starred all-day bistro from London by chef Alan Yau and Hakkasan, known for having brought an edge of sophistication to humble dim sums and High Street palates, opens its first branch in Mumbai’s Bombay-Kurla Complex this weekend. Don’t go there looking for the original. It is, as the new restaurant’s new openings manager Imran Khaleel tells us, the next-generation Yauatcha. It is younger, peppier, and a twist on the already modern interpretation of Cantonese cuisine. From the light spray of embroidered yellow cherry blossoms on grey chair backs to the communal bar table and the new flavours of macarons (Rs 150 for a selection of three) created in London for the India launch, this is Yauatcha reinvented.
The lobby space is a retail area. Hand-rolled chocolates (Rs 180 for a selection of three), teapots, tins of bespoke teas from China and Taiwan—oolongs, greens, blacks, whites and jasmines—are available in varying weights (Rs 300 onwards for 40g).
The restaurant greets you with two communal drinking tables sandwiched between the marble trellis-cut-and-underlit bar, and the wine coolers with their array of custom-made Yauatcha wines (Rs 700 onwards by the glass; Rs 4,500 by the bottle) that they also retail. Try classic Italian Peach Bellinis (Rs 850 a glass), Masumi sake (Rs 1,200 a carafe) and Prosecco, London’s hot new toast toppling champagne (Rs 750 a glass).
An obsession with fish tanks notwithstanding, the space has a non-intimidating comfort factor. From the average price of a dish (Rs 250-650) that manages to be filling without being heavy, to the functional pink, purple and yellow plastic bound menus, Yauatcha woos the corporate luncher. It also has two private dining rooms which can be reserved at no extra cost.
The Chinese menu has no traditional concept of starters, and in London, the dim sums come when ready. Here, however, the 70% Indian staff have been trained to understand that Indians expect starters, and the dim sums are typically laid out first. These, along with a few additional vegetarian dishes, separate wok galleys for vegetarian food, an open kitchen, and removing beef from the menu, are the few Indianizations Yauatcha has allowed for. Sadly, this also means that the more exotic meats—like venison that was initially on the Hakkasan menu—have been removed. Service, entrées or not, is prompt.
A dim-sum place though it may be, the main course is light-up-your-face Mongolian Style Lamb Chops (Rs 1,950) and Chicken Clay Pot with Schezuan Pepper Corn (Rs 475). Vegetarian options like Stir-fry Udon Noodles in Black Pepper Sauce (Rs 550), spicy fried rice with edamame and a Spicy Aubergine, Sato Bean, Okra and French Bean stir fry (Rs 550) are good, but essentially stay within the range of good Chinese everywhere—perhaps in a bid to appeal to a familiar taste. The Gai Lan greens (Rs 400) with oyster sauce are high on taste and freshness.
The food is playful, light, and one bite-sized that explodes texturally and artistically; with prices that allow you, thankfully, to feel welcome, and well worth the spend.
Yauatcha, Ground floor, Raheja Towers, Bandra-Kurla Complex. For reservations, call 022-26448888.