Authentic Teahouse wins Londoners’ hearts
Fusion heritage and modernity
Published: Jun 09, 2022 10:26 AM
The rosé theme at Yauatcha City in London, the UK Photo: Courtesy of Yauatcha

The rosé theme at Yauatcha City in London, the UK Photo: Courtesy of Yauatcha

Food at Yauatcha City in London, the UK Photo: Courtesy of Yauatcha

Food at Yauatcha City in London, the UK Photo: Courtesy of Yauatcha

Wandering among the modern corporate skyscrapers towers in the city of London, an elegant, whimsical, pink summer terrace jumped into my eye's view.  

For a second, you would think you might have stepped into the Land of Peach Blossoms, the mythical utopia where people live in peace and harmony knowing nothing of the outside world in the famous Chinese poet Tao Yuanming's 5th century fable. 

The moment you are welcomed by the kind wait staff from this Chinese Dim Sum house Yauatcha, you will know you have been transported to gourmet heaven.

Preserving tradition with modern feel

Named one of the 50 best restaurants in the world by the readers of The Times Visitor's Guide, Yauatcha specializes in authentic Cantonese Dim Sum cuisine with a clever modern twist, giving guests a unique dining experience.

Unlike ordinary Hong Kong-style restaurants, the interior of Yauatcha is fresh and chic, with a modern design tone. 

Yauatcha invited the famous French interior designer Christian Liagire to handle the design, cleverly blending modern aesthetics with traditional Chinese patterns, allowing diners to enjoy the food while also immersing themselves in a comfortable and warm environment, reaping a full-sensory immersion experience. Liagire has also applied an open design to the kitchen floor plan to showcase the full view, allowing customers to watch as dishes are prepared allowing them to further enjoy their meal.

"Located in the heart of the city, Yauatcha offers a calming place to the bustling financial center in London," Alix Pickard, Director of Marketing of Tao Group Hospitality, told the Global Times, adding that Yauatcha is a social space, a modern incarnation of the traditional Chinese teahouse, and a space to connect.

Having worked for Yauatcha for nearly ten years, Pickard said the restaurant, with two locations in London, Yauatcha Soho and Yauatcha City, has won a number of prestigious awards since its opening in 2004.

The main customer demographics during weekdays are bankers from local banks and financial companies, while at the weekend, customers come here for dates, meet-ups, and events. With a diversified clientele, the restaurant serves up its delectable options all day. 

Yauatcha's menu offering is dim sum dominant cuisine. Dim sum is formulated under the "core and peripheral" strategy, meaning traditionally there are about ten dim sum dishes that form the generic definition of what dim sum is all about. To complement the cuisine, the drink menu is comprised of over 24 types of tea, as well as cocktails inspired by Chinese ingredients and a broad wine and Champagne list. 

Popular dishes include a wide range of steamed, baked, grilled, and fried dim sum such as Scallop shui mai, Prawn and beancurd cheung fun. An assortment or larger menu items of duck, fish, and noodle dishes are also well received by customers.

Faye Conway, a customer of Yauatcha, told the Global Times that her favorite dish was the venison puff pastry. "I have been to Yauatcha several times with my daughter, who works in the City and introduced this amazing restaurant to me."

Introducing Chinese culture to westerners

While maintaining its traditional cooking techniques, Yauatcha keeps innovating with the changing times. Twice a year, the restaurants change their menus and are doing campaign collaborations with partners.

"Chinese New Year is the biggest festival we celebrate," Alix Pickard told the Global Times, adding that Chinese festivals are becoming more and more popular in London. 

The year 2022 is the year of the Tiger. The restaurant created an exclusive, signature menu as well as limited edition pineapple pastries available for guests to purchase retail or order online for nationwide delivery.

During Chinese New Year, the restaurants were transformed to pay homage to the fierce Tiger. The exterior of Yauatcha Soho displayed a beautifully vivid vinyl tiger with gold embossed writing wishing everyone Gong Hei Fat Choy, translated as Happy New Year in Chinese. 

The restaurant also has a ceiling installation with glimpses of tigers crouching amongst the rafters. 

Yauatcha City displayed a life-sized tiger lantern, designed and created in China, which greets guests as they enter the restaurant. 

With more Chinese culture awareness increasing over the years, Yauatcha has started to celebrate Dragon Boat Festival, Chinese Valentines day, Mid-Autumn Day, and Double 11 across the year.  

"We like these authentic ideas," Pickard explained, adding that Yauatcha even has its social media accounts ready to promote Chinese festivals and culture to the outside world. 

For example, by promoting its Yauatcha style mid-autumn mooncakes, it explained the history and significance of the festival, and all kinds of mooncakes from the north to the southern provinces across China. So customers now have a better idea of the origins and symbolic meanings of the festival and mooncakes, which are available within the restaurants and for nationwide delivery.