Yauatcha, Soho, London - still overpriced
Pretty good har gau/prawn dumplings, not the thinnest skins, but fairly good, the prawns within given a nice crunchy snappy texture.
Mushroom spring rolls with truffle oil gave off a good whiff of the advertised truffle oil, good deep frying.
A peach guava smoothie was ordinary, could have been blended better, without all the coarse ice chips remaining.
The pumpkin ginger confection for dessert looked very pretty, but the taste was merely ok and without much textural interest, just a few shades of softness.
And as overpriced as I remembered from a lunch a few years ago -- roughly 20% more than Min Jiang or 40% more than Pearl Liang, which are equivalent or superior places.
yeah i used to go to yauatcha about once every fortnight several years ago, because i thought the dim sum was quite interesting / innovative and refined. although it was pricey, but i thought it was still within reason. then a couple of years back, it seemed to me that they raised the prices and dropped the standards, and i haven't been back since.
i miss having a place with unusual / more creative dim sum like yauatcha has. do peninsula, yumcha or yi-ban serve up interesting dim sum? (i've been to the other places you mentioned)
Peninsula, Yumcha and Yi-Ban are more classical. Pearl Liang has a couple of items that could be considered unusual e.g. ones with bamboo pith fungus/ju2 sen1. Royal China Club also does a bunch of non-traditional items that were good -- I remember enjoying the lamb pan fried buns/sen1 jian1 bao1. And the tea at Royal China Club is more reasonably priced than Yauatcha (which is quite exorbitant as well).
Love to hear what you think about the other places that you've been. It's been a while since I've eaten at them -- would be grateful for more up-to-date comments.
I try to avoid Princess Gardens unless my friends insist on meeting there, mostly because I don't think their steamed dim sum, which I prefer, are good - not as fresh and fine as can be gotten at the Royal Chinas. The fried dim sum are fine, although I can't benchmark them, because I never have them elsewhere, and I think it's easier to hide flaws with fried dim sum anyway. The Pea Shoots in Supreme Soup (shang4 tang1 dou4 miao2) have been somewhat disappointing as well - the stems are a bit tough, suggesting that the vegetables aren't that fresh.
I prefer Royal China Club to the regular Royal China (at least to the Baker Street and Queensway branches) - the steamed dim sum are fresher and finer than the regular Royal Chinas, although the portions are smaller / prices are higher. The honey roast pork puff (char siew shou) are especially delicious at Club, and is a real differentiator. I love the fluffy, buttery pastry with the honey glazing! :) Shanghai xiao long bao are better here than elsewhere I've had dim sum at so far - dumpling skins are quite thin and still allows you to pick it up without breaking.
I shall try the dim sum at Pearl Liang. I've only been there once for dinner, and I thought the food was more refined Chinese food (a la Royal China) but slightly pricey.
I have to admit I'm more willing to splurge on dim sum, and less on regular Chinese food. Only because I think you can get really delicious Chinese food at quite cheap prices, so a high-end Chinese restaurant really needs to offer something extra for me to think it worthwhile...
Not sure if others here have the same mindset and experience?
I last went a few years back and thought it was good. I am now back in Hong Kong and to add some context dim sum done well is usually expensive even here. I felt Yauatcha would measure up well in HK, but many of the other, far cheaper London stalwarts would not have done.
I understand Eric Koh, the chef from Hakkasan, has now moved to Sydney to open the mega trendy Mr Wong's and it is doing great business even amongst the Asian food savvy Sydneysiders, maybe Hakkasan wan't that bad after all.....!
It's interesting to read this. I've been to Yauatcha a couple of times. It's a convenient lunch spot as a tourist with it being central and, with it been open all afternoon, I quite like being able to pop in for a late lunch and not worry about the timing.
I also love the venison puffs so I guess it's the risk of not wanting to go somewhere else and find the food worse. Price wise I also found it to be reasonable since they have the taste menu to split between 2 but I guess if you want to explore the menu it could add up. I look forward to maybe "risking it" next time that I'm down and try the places mentioned by you.
Also, been a while since I've had dim sum at Princess Garden in Mayfair or Yi-Ban near City Airport, but those were also very enjoyable dim sum experiences that charge a normal price. Worth checking out as well. Also worth considering are Phoenix Palace (another one that I liked but haven't been in a while). For high-end dim sum I like Royal China Club on Baker Street.
BTW, most dim sum houses I've been to in London will serve all afternoon (usually till 5pm) in case that's the kind of timing you're looking for.