Food Review: Yauatcha
At financial capitals around the world—New York, London, Paris, Hong Kong—there are certain kinds of watering and eating holes that attract a certain kind of customer. The demographic is twenty- and thirty-something investment bankers riding high on six-figure bonuses and the attendant assortment of groupies looking to capitalise on the latter. The place is almost always dimly lit, with prices inversely proportional to the portion of food served (Hakkasan, incidentally, where “reservations are traded on the futures market” is one such establishment). In Mumbai, were this demographic to exist (blessedly we have the more sombre industrialist in their stead), Yauatcha would be their undisputed headquarters.
The dim sum-serving second cousin to Hakkasan, which opened its doors last week in the Bandra-Kurla Complex, is poised at every angled artifice to extract big bucks. At the bar, a long, high table from which you may survey the dining area, you can order your bottle of Bollinger to the intended watchful curiosity of everyone else in the vicinity. The servings of dim sum—the starring dishes of the hot-pink menus—are petite; “Waiter, bring me four of each,” is what you could well imagine some fat cat throwing out with the practiced casual indifference called for when ordering Rs700-plus dishes.
This being Mumbai however, on a quiet weekday night, there were no investment bankers to be found. In their place were a couple of aforementioned industrialists, small groups of middle-aged men with their Louis Vuitton-emblazoned wives, and a disproportionate number of over-dressed twenty-something couples who seemed to be at their “I do or die” moment. The servers outnumbered us, possibly three to one, with the added nuisance of thus being overly-attentive (changing plates after each dim sum is surely something water-starved Mumbai could do without).
The dim sum, save for the crispy prawn cheung fun and Chilean sea bass wrapped with a single strand of mooli, failed to match, in terms of satisfaction value, what you could probably get at Royal China for half the price. The asparagus and mushroom-filled cheung fun was passable; the baked vegetarian chicken puff (made with imitation chicken of some kind) filled with a sweetish mixture of mushroom, was cooked in a shortbread-like glazed pastry shell that was far too cloying. The steamed, bite-sized pieces of pork spareribs were mostly bone, though the one teeth-ripping mouthful of flesh seasoned with black bean sauce and chopped bits of red chilli, seemed to greatly improve the more you gnawed on the bone.
The crispy prawn cheung fun, cut into chopstick-friendly pieces and splashed with light soya sauce, afforded a mash of pleasingly contrarian textures: the crispy coating of fresh fried batter, the gooey doughiness of the gelatinous rice noodle casing and the soft, knobbly mixture of chopped prawn and slivered mushroom. The Chilean sea bass, cooked to ethereal perfection and stuffed into a casing tied prettily with a strand of neon green mooli, was a subtle unveiling that allowed you to taste the authentic (non-soya-doused) flavour of the fish.
Of the main courses, the aubergine, okra, sato bean, french bean and onion dish will undoubtedly find many fans; it’s an unabashed play to Indian tastes, with a mash of spicy onion and chilli…masala. Purists, don’t let that put you off. It’s eminently enjoyable especially with steamed rice. The sole stand-out “statement” dish if you will, was the baked sea bass, glazed with supreme soya and covered with slivers of poached egg white, teensy diced bits of carrot and a few sprigs of coriander. The combination of unsalted egg and buttery, sweetish fish is nothing short of genius, especially when the fish is cooked to translucent flakiness.
Like at most Chinese places, don’t bother with dessert. The dark chocolate coffee anise cake was dense and dry; though the macaroons, which you should pick up from the patisserie counter on your way out, are right up there with the best of them (we recommend the sea-green Matcha flavour). Yauatcha is exactly the kind of place at which you’ll want to show off to new clients; or seal a deal (of the business or marriage kind). But it’s the equivalent of a circus without the animals—without the entertainment value, and no big draw to the food, you’ll wonder why you ever came back.
A meal for two, including alcohol, costs approximately Rs5,000. This review was conducted anonymously.Tags: bars, Nightlife, Restaurants, Yauatcha
Bandra Kurla Complex
Take a right at the signal at the IL&FS Building
HoursDaily, 11am to midnight