Yauatcha [London]

So a quick lunch at the original Yauatcha today and a reminder that it still does dim sum elegantly whilst lacking the top punch of the very best individual places.

Crab XLB were plump and full of soup, but I think I prefer Leong’s Legend. The grilled chicken potstickers are good, but not a patch on Mao Tai. Soft and unctuous Har Gau felt how they should and went well with the restaurant made superior chilli sauce. The prawn and beancurd cheung-fun however remains the gold standard for me.

Alongside it we had reliable venison puffs and a not very good crispy chilli squid which I always forget to not order here as their version is not great.

So overall - a good if not great option that is reliably strong across the board. As an alternative the much cheaper, more HK style New Loon Fung (upstairs through the Gerrard St entrance) is still my go to lunch time dim sum fix.

My go-to place for dim sum in London has always been Royal China Club down at Baker Street. But Yauatcha, the much-underrated Joy King Lau on Leicester St, and Phoenix Palace in Marylebone are all very good.

I love Royal China and Pearl Liang’s worth a mention too. If you like Joy King Lau I think you’ll really like New Loon Fung - it’s got a very similar feel, but a bit less touristy and just as good value.

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I also like Joy King Lau, though more for the evening menu than for dim sum. I still remember the delicious monks vegetables claypot I had there a couple of years ago — it had all the good stuff including red fermented beancurd, glass noodles, black fungus, daylily buds, beancurd skin, gingko nuts, and so on.

Is there anywhere in Chinatown you’d recommend for a quick decentish lunch?

Our hotel is near Leicester Square underground and the plan is to dump our bags, get lunch and get to the Fortune Theatre near Covent Garden for the matinee performance.

(EDIT: I hadnt noticed Hyperion had mentioned New Loon Fung. Any others?)

I went to Yum Cha in Camden recently and was quite impressed, especially for the money. The lamb dumplings were a little robust skin wise but a great flavour with a nice hint of cumin and the savoury vinegary broth they sat in was very good. So much so that I used it as my dipping sauce for the other items. I very much enjoyed the turnip cake. Good outer crust, delicate turnip taste and almost crumpet like texture under the crust. Didn’t get much from the added wind dried meat and shrimp though. The stand out though were the Crystal scallop & prawn dumplings. Very delicate skins and the seafood were perfectly cooked. This was one of those rare occasions were I’d ordered well and would happily go back for exactly the same dishes.
BTW does anyone know anywhere in London that opens for dim sum at breakfast?

Indeed. Baiwei is probably my current favourite: catfish in chilli broth, crispy cumin lamb, the multi-coloured garlic salad, gong bao chicken, crisp five spice pork and dan dan noodles (probably be favourite version in London now they’ve changed the recipe a little about a month ago)

Honorable mentions to Manchurian Legend for the original Dong Bei style sweet and sour pork and their chilli peanut spinach.

Also Food House for their skewers, much tossed noodles (I think that’s what it was called) and explosive chicken.

Pearl Liang’s marvellous - esp. loved the lobster noodles with ginger and scallions.

I finally went to A Wong the other day for the first time. Completely non-traditional, but some very refined cooking! Worth a visit, but don’t come expecting the dim sum standards.

It’s also really good that they sell dim sum per-piece, works really well if you’re not in a divisible-by-three group or are eating alone.

A Wong is great, but I always forget about it. I think it lacks the really punchy flavours of a Baiwei or a Mao Tai, but the level of cooking is v high.