A meal at Yauatcha Soho – A Birthday Party
One of my devoted “followers” is Daphne, and she has her birthday each year on 31st of March. (Yes I invite my regular “followers” to dine on their birthdays, it is a means to increase the volume of readers of my blog: WINE4SOUL.com, a PR stunt and it works) [press play to hear music].
Her choice was; dinner at Yauatcha Soho. Not for the first time may I add and the joy, as always is complete. YAUATCHA is basically a Dim Sum joint at the edge of Soho London. But… there’s dim sum and other “touches of hearts”. This is dim sum at its best with other Chinese nibbles on the side. See menu: http://www.yauatcha.com/soho/files/2011/07/Yau_ALC_271112_no-prices.pdf It serves some of London’s best and most exciting Cantonese food.
Dim sum 点心 (meaning in Chinese: touch the heart) is (as you all know) a style of Cantonese food prepared as bite-sized or individual portions of food, served either steamed in small steamer baskets or fried, grilled, or baked bite size gems . Eating dim sum at a restaurant is usually known in Cantonese as going to “drink tea” (yum cha, 飲茶), as tea always was typically served with dim sum.
Dim sum has its roots in small establishments that serviced travelers on the ancient Cantonese traveling routes. Those small tea houses, served at first as stations for travelers needing a rest and have a cup o’ tea. Teahouses were established along the roadside. Travelers, merchants and farmers, would go to teahouses for a relaxing afternoon of tea. No food was served as it was considered “inappropriate” to combine tea with food, for dietary reasons. While dim sum was originally not a main meal, only a sort of snack, meant to “touch the heart”, (very much like “Spanish Tapas” traditionally served with Sherry, rather than tea), it is now one of the pillars of Cantonese culinary culture.
The unique culinary art of dim sum was transformed from “yum cha” a relaxing tea break to an exciting dining experience. The traditional dim sum restaurant typically serves dim sum until mid-afternoon. However, in modern society it has become more common for restaurants to serve dim sum at dinner time, Yauatcha follows this trend. In Hong Kong, and in most cities and towns in Guangdong province, many restaurants start serving dim sum as early as five in the morning. It is a tradition for the elderly to gather and eat dim sum after morning Tai Chi exercises.
The characteristics of the elaborate cooking methods of Chinese imperial cuisine, of strict selection of material, which are often extremely expensive, rare, or complicated in preparation, visual presentation as a crucial aspect, and significance of color and shape of the dish arrangement were adopted by Dim sum “masters” who transformed the dishes into Art on a plate.
Dim sum by the way, should not automatically be assumed to be healthy as it contains fatty dishes and ingredients that should be balanced with lighter vegetable dishes.
At Yauatcha, as they testify themselves, “you can sample the delights that first made the restaurant famous when Alan Yau opened it in 2004: top-quality dim sum that’s served day and night. (Yau has long since released control of the business), but standards remain high. Yauatcha is a modern reinterpretation of the old Chinese teahouse. Designed by Christian Liaigre, the restaurant’s open-plan layout and visible kitchen energizes the entire space, engaging both the outside street scene and Yauatcha’s customers. Yauatcha received a Michelin star within a year of its opening and retained it to date”.
A limited number of restaurants are chosen for the MICHELIN Guides and all aspire to be nominated for entering their “star system” but earning a star is one of the highest honors in the industry. Although The only known criteria on which they judge a restaurant for a Michelin star are: Quality of the products, Mastery of flavour and cooking, techniques, The “personality” of Chef in his cuisine, Value for money, and Consistency between visits, which are vigorously kept at Yauatcha, it is usually more than just that… that enters the list of considerations and very few bustling, noisy, multi service packed restaurants are awarded the Honor of the restaurant industry, Yauatcha, is rightly awarded the aspired accolade.
One star indicates a very good restaurant in its category, offering cuisine prepared to a consistently high standard. (A good place to stop on your journey, as defined by the guide). It is worth a visit even out of your journey, I’ve been doing it since the day it was opened.
On this visit we had a selection of the following Dim Sum, and other dishes accompanied by 2010 L’oeuvre de Perraud,Domaine Perraud Mâcon-Villages not a great wine by any standard but perfect for the meal ahead, fresh multilayered with green apple and touches of tropical notes, a light and easy fun wine with no apparent faults.
Blue swimmer crab shui mai with pork was an interesting combination of white crab meat and minced pork.
Steamed vegetable dumpling – so well performed and presented the photo says it all
King crab dumpling – simply delicious
Prawn and bean-curd cheung fun an old favorite of mine and one of the ” spécialité de la maison” the perfect balance of oral touch sensation the bite starts at the outer smooth jelly, followed by crispy lining of bean-curd that crunches between your teeth as you get to bite the springy fresh prawn exquisite!
Three style mushroom cheung fun another “house specialty” the gelatinous “flat rice noodle” wraps precisely spiced and deliciously scented mushroom filling.
Of course we could not resist the fried Spicy soft shell crab so we ordered 2 and could have devoured at least 2 more between the 4 of us. The chilly spiced roast almonds with fried and fresh curry leaves and a well fried soft shell crab “swimming” in a yellowish saffron colour, a delight with every bite.
Soft-shell crab is a term for crabs which have recently molted their old exoskeleton and are still soft, most crabs molt their shell and are a delicacy at this precarious stage of their cycle.
Jasmine tea smoked ribs – so tender and well seasoned to “die for”
Crispy aromatic duck – this is almost a fetish of mine to sample crispy aromatic duck (a most common dish) in every chineese mealand this one tops them all all the fat turned to crunchy crisp deliciously spiced and scented, I like it here, I can skip the whole self wrapping part and just eat it on it’s own.
For vegetables Spicy aubergine, Sato bean, okra and French bean – the wide array of tastes enhanced by the Hedonistic peculiar taste of the Sato bean is sensually perfect.
Sato Bean is a plant of the genus Parkia in the family Fabaceae. It has almonds shape, long, flat edible beans with bright green colour which have a rather peculiar but Hedonistic smell, similar (but stronger) to the Shiitake or even rotting mushrooms. A popular culinary ingredient in most south Asian countries, mainly: Indonesia, Malaysia, Singapore, Laos, southern Thailand, Burma, and northeastern India.
Egg white fried rice with dried scallop and asparagus – my favorite rice here
We finished with a well brewed cup of tea and a complete balance of body and mind was achieved yet again.
The service (as always), was kind supportive informative and efficient.
Yauatcha :15-17 Broadwick Street. Soho, London, W1F 0DL,
Tel:+44 (0) 20 7494 8888.
Happy Birthdat dear Daphne
Dr. Eli Landau ——–1949-2012 ——–Rest In Peace friend.
14th June 2012
Dr. Eli Landau, cardiologist, Lover of good life, Great cook and culinary expert, a Foodie in any respect, and a friend , passed away this evening, he was 63 year old. What a waste!
I was sitting with Shaul Evron, one of Eli’s best friends, at Yoezer, (a high-end Wine-Bar restaurant in Jaffa, Shaul’s restataurant), having my coffee after yet another satisfying wonder meal, when the phone rang… Shaul’s conversed abruptly with Haim Cohen (Eli’s partner in Jaffa Tel-Aviv Restaurant recently opened), you could see on Shaul’s face that something went terribly wrong he turned to Shlomit the Yoezer Restaurant manager & Sommelier, chief “nurse” (she looks after everyone at the restaurant young and old). “That’s it, Eli is gone”. They knew what was going on, but I got the situation all wrong! at first, I guess the sudden switch in atmosphere caught me by surprise.
Even though they knew that the “end” was imminent, a somber, heavy feeling filled the air. A sense of complete VOID fell upon, as if facing the abyss of death with total helplessness. Shlomit said from the bottom of her heart with great sadness: “No more Eli” It really encompassed everything, her grief, her loss her longing to a man who was one of Yoezer’s and Shaul Evron’s best friends. You always saw them together like the odd couple in any culinary event, or of course at Yoezer. They were soul mates in their attraction to wine and food.
Eli really knew his food, loved good wine and top end whiskey, an expert of Italian cuisine cooking and food products and most of the secrets and history of Italian food were an integral part of his being.
I guess on top of everything; His know how, the expertise He had good taste and a unique inner passion for food and cooking. My kind of GUY.
Eli Landau, was a food columnist for several Israeli newspapers, and food magazines, the author of three cookbooks: Mevashlim 1 & 2 (with Chef Haim Cohen), and the legendary pork recopies cookbook: “The White Book” a must book in every kitchen.
Eli and Haim Cohen met in the early 80’s when young Chef Cohen returned from Provance Cooking at Keren Restaurant in Tel-Aviv. Eli wrote a review in his column and they befriended at first a “friendship of mutual respect” and then after years of meetings and eating together established their 20 years of “friendship of love”. They started to cook together, wrote cookbooks together, had an internet portal “Mevashlim” (Cooking) http://www.mevashlim.com/Section/1515001.asp , plus numerous culinary tours of Europe (mainly in Italy and France). “We are one palate that separates into 2 stomachs” said Eli
Alon Gonen (chef owner El-Bario Restaurant summed it up very well: “He had the capacity to show us (young chefs) That the simple things are the most delicious makers of a good meal: A visit to the local market for fresh goods, Top class Butter on a fresh Baguette, fire red ripe and bursting tomatoes, Good Olive Oil, a bite on a nice sausage or cured meat and a good glass of wine”
Hilik Gurfinkel (a food and wine columnist, author of food books and ex “chef” at Yoezer in the old days, Just told me at the funeral, how Eli took literally took him by the hand and showed him the secrets of boning a Lamb “He was so efficient like a surgeon in the operating theatre, everything with a smile and patience of no end, a fatherly manner…”
Eli studied medicine near Parma where he tasted his first real prosciutto and other Italian food wonders of tradition. He returned an MD with a passion for food in general and deep knowledge of Italian food in particular. You could see the passion oozing when he was talking about food, always with a sound background of the various ingredients and their “place” in the dish. Even After visiting the best of the rest of European restaurants, he loved simplicity always with a smile and patience no end to onlookers and “groupies” (after he became a “TV celeb” with a wonderful series on Italian food shot in Italy mostly from the simple man and Jewish angle). On his Pork cookbook that created quite a stir he said: “basically it is a Kosher cookbook, if you swap pork with milk veal… I do not cook with milk or butter JUST OLIVE OIL!!!
So many people at the funeral (everyone who is someone in the Israeli culinary world was there), told me he was their mentor, teacher guide in the dark, culinary father/advisor, a high priest of local culinaria.
The roses gathered on top of the fresh grave, forming a blanket of love, appreciation and thanks to the man who was not only the best Chef amongst the Doctors and the best Doctor amongst the Chefs, but a milestone in the world of local Israeli cooks and food lovers. He will be greatly missed… but never forgotten.
As they say in Hebrew:
תהא נשמתו צרורה בצרור החיים – May his Soul be Bundled in the Bundle of Life
Someone said today: now there are only 2 doctors left amongst the foodies, Dr.Yehuda Abramovitch and me, I say Eli was the ONE, a guide to the culinary Galaxy we are both just hitchhikers enjoying the left over crumbs.
Love to Nadia and Adam
Amir – The wine guide
A New Years Eve Dinner
I like winter celebrations, a cause to PARTY.. A champagne festival. GREAT!
They are “A decoration of our lives”, some with trees and glittering adornments
and others with lots of presents around. There are those who would like a trip to a warm exotic place, whatever fills your life with joy and gets you through the next quarter.
I wonder if you celebrate Christmas and New Year’s time around the end of December, and Easter around end of March beginning of April (it goes by the Lunar months) what do you celebrate in mid August Napoleon’s birthday or India’s Independence (both on August 15th), or maybe Just the Kids summer Holiday or just your own Summer. Then you get to stick again to the Gregorian calendar, introduced by Pope Gregory XIII, by a decree signed on 24 February 1582 (the previous calendar was 11 minutes too short per year which means that every million years the Christian faith would lose around 21 and a half days (Oi Vei…) If you asked me pope Gregory wanted to down history with something in his hands and HE DID!!!!!!!!!!
Lets move on Just to let you know (for the next trivia Quiz you will play round the old fireplace with a glass of eggnog in your hand :
The 3 oldest calendars are :
The Byzantine 7520–7521 calendar which calculated the first day of creation to September 1st, 5509 BC to August 31st 5508 BC ANNUS MUNDI + 2012 = 7520/21
The Assyrian 6762
The Hebrew 5772–5773
All the above count from the “day of creation” according to their belief and calculations Nice!
Back to our own humble celebration which celebrates US.
If wine (mostly Champagne is not the issue tonight than the food will balance the occasion.
* Cappuccino of white beans with white and black truffles Home made seasame and Parmigiano grissini
- 2 salads: Roasted endive with fresh figs, Rockfort, and Pomegranate dressing.
- Oven Roasted Tomato sald with Tulum cheese
Tulum cheese (Turkish: tulum peyniri) is a traditional Turkish goat’s milk cheese ripened in a goatskin casing. Due to its unique flavor
* Souflee of French goat cheeses and fresh porcini mushrooms
* Lobster whith cream of sweet pepers (Girardet style, I wish…..) servrd with a puree of violet potatoes, fried cubes of yellow potatoes mange tout and baked Shimeji mushrooms
Festive Macaroonsn with Port and Coffee
for starters Duval Leroy Blanc de chardonnay 1999, I must admit it was not the best of choice but since all our drinks were different champagnes leading to our midnight champagne to receive the New Year it was subtle enough. The pronounced sweetness which I personally dislike was appetizing to my family members. It acted as an appetizer with salty munchies and led us
We quickly moved to Bollinger Rose NV to ease my pain of shattered expectations between us it did not but raised the level from our first champagne and took us through the salad break which gave me a chance to grt the soufflé to the table at the best possible timing
With this perfect soufflé (I must add) we had to move to a sure bet one of my favorites The Bollinger grand annee 1990 . The 1990 Bollinger has a rich, light golden hue in the glass, and nice sized bubbles. Upon pouring it reveals the full array of mature aromas, roasted almonds, toffee, even creamed coffee with burnt caramel or honey, than wet mushrooms and even earthy truffles. Full bodied, but vibrant and sparkling. It has fully evolved flavours, still nicely supported by the acidity. What a delightful wine a real mood maker and it is going very well with the mid course. The Champagne and our mid course delighted us and got us closer to the “…stroke of midnight …clock hands join palms in respectful greeting …” of the New Year (may I use and add to the wonderful opening lines of Slman Rushdie’s Midnight’s Children). So Just before the midnight hour we filled our glasses with the last bottle of one of my favorite champagnes: 1989 Heisieck Monopole Diamant Bleu , A rich lemon-brilliant gold color opened in the glass with a perfect mousse of tiny bubbles, complex elegant nose of butter fruit tart in Crème pâtissière, with a whiff of grilled almonds and buttered toasted brioche, all tender but expressive long and persistent aromas of “more” . one of the perfect examples of a perfect champagne of equal amounts of Pinot and chardonnay. The perfect opener to a new year and a wonderful accompanying drink to our desert (eaten after the 10th stroke of midnight)
With the Lobster I wanted a winner We worked our asses off to get the claws out of the shells intact (actually V. did most of th work on that she somehow got the hang of itwhich allowed me more time to look after the tails and the Lobster and sweet peppers sauce so…
So Just before the midnight hour we filled our glasses with the last bottle of one of my favorite champagnes:
1989 Heisieck Monopole Diamant Bleu , A rich lemon-brilliant gold color opened in the glass with a perfect mousse of tiny bubbles, complex elegant nose of butter fruit tart in Crème pâtissière, with a whiff of grilled almonds and buttered toasted brioche, all tender but expressive long and persistent aromas of “more” . one of the perfect examples of a perfect champagne of equal amounts of Pinot and chardonnay. The perfect opener to a new year and a wonderful accompanying drink to our desert (eaten after the 10th stroke of midnight)
Happy celebrations for whatever reason to Ya all.
Cooking at home with Yair Yossefi (October 2010)
The Idea: simple enough: to cook a meal together with an accomplished Chef at my home / kitchen and have some great company and wine to complement it with…
So while shopping with Yossefi at Tomer the Butcher (of Tzook Farm) we planned the meal, first second and main courses were wrapped up in situ from the fresh ingredients on offer at Tomer’s, Still I felt like some sea food for balance and offered to prepare crystal giant shrimps rolled in Zucchini, fried in Goose fat, with froth of champagne shrimp sauce a great recipe I picked years ago from a Robuchon book, but Yossefi offered langoustine risotto and after all he is the Chef!!! so I went gladly along with the idea, I love fresh Langoust and they’re not easy to get here… that sorted out third course, for desert we’ll have my cousin’s Dalit amazing Austrian style chocolate Gugelhopf with home mage Ice cream (the kitchen is well equipped)
The Venue: my “tastefully furnished”, kitchen and dining room at home near Tel-Aviv.
Chef: Yair Yossefi (Y.Y), my friend, with an impressive resume: worked with “greats” like, Pierre Gagnaire au 6 rue Balzac – Paris 8, and Guy Martin au Grand Véfour, Restaurant Lasserre in avenue Franklin Roosevelt Paris amongst others. His fingertips are burning to cook for others his palate yearning for good old Bordeaux’s (from my cellar) he’s a bourgundian buff. Since than Yossefi has opened the already acclaimed Bistro Elba t in 36 Ibn Gabirol Street Tel-Aviv Tel: 03-5467905
1. Lionell Pinot (L.P), Chef de Partie de legume (vegetable peeler) and Sommelier du maison for the day. He is now the Sommelier at Elba!!
2. Me (A.S) the Wineguide, as Gaffer (ga for this ga for that) Kitchen coordinator and keeper of wine!
The food / menu :
* Roast Bone marrow (on the bone), Shimeji mushrooms, champignons, butter fried Challa (brioche style Friday bread) and radishes.
* Pot au feu Soup (consommé) with oxtail raviolis.
* Langoustine risotto foie gras cubes and grilled crayfish on a stick
* Saddle of lamb stuffed with lamb offal and herbs with butter sautéed yellow carrots
* Warm Chocolate Kugelhopf with Crème pâtissière ice cream
Selection of French cheese
The Wines: (don’t be jealous)
Welcome drink: Bollinger Grande Annee 1995, this is a highly regarded vintage by the Bollinger house. It already, shows good secondary Aromas of mushroom and a slightly burned butter toast, latter showing more cream caramel style in aroma and touch. It is so open, expressive, and forceful in character that these qualities carry through onto the palate where there are notes of honey, brazil nuts and dried mushrooms, even hints of truffles and caramelized dried orange peel. This has a great style and lots of impact, and although very evolved it has good acidity I wish we had 3 more bottles of this wine which turned to be a box of delights, HEAVEN!!!!!!!!!!!
We were hungry and thirsty so we went on to open the wine brought by Lionel the 2007 Puligny-Montrachet Louis CARILLON et Fils what a delightfull wine to start the meal with fresh and modest wine after all this is not a premier or grand cru wine but the aromas of minty peach and the finesse of the lightly toasted almonds really appealed to me but we were 5 at the table and one bottle does not go a long way in our district so we proceeded to the surprise wine of the meal, is it drinkable at all? Is it a gonner?
After all it is a Magnum of 1962 Maison Noemie Verneaux Mersault Charmes, at best a 48 years old White wine from an extraordinary Bourgogne vintage !!! and at worst an unusable vinegar. It’s not easy to open a 48 year old Magnum with the cork “stuck” firmly by what turned to be some sort of deposits that sealed the bottle (luckily) with a hard resin like material. The wine was reborn into the glasses of all of us anticipating bunch, it started as deep gold in color with nice aromas of slightly oxidized very old bourgogne, with an excellent dry fino sherry touch, more like a good old Vin Jaune with its nuttyness but this wine for at least the first 20 minutes of his rebirth kept a fair amount of fruity acidity, as if to remind us of its origin. It was impressive and highly rewarding with depth in tertiary aromas of its nutty bouquet with austerity full bodied touch. As the time passed by the color deepened into old gold yellow-brown color almost maderized but drinkable all the time and that kept us happy throughout the Pot au feu and for some the Languste & Foie Gras, personally I would have prefered a more fresh and acidic wine for this dish. The Langustine stock was creamy and rich (without any cream added!!! (YY) the risotto was made in the traditional manner with us sous chefs having to stir constantly under the chef’s lashes. The foie gras cubes added an extra creaminess to the dish and the firm langustine inside their shells were made properly. So some opted for the acidic touch of the Hubert De Montille Volnay Les Champans 1999 with its austerity of fruit and earthy flavours it was a good intro into the red wine part of the meal. This is a wild bunch of wine guzzlers and no drop was left to spare…
This is a meal at home so we had to rest between dishes which is fun when you have good wine to keep you happy in between and that was not a problem since the cellar is not 39 but only 8 steps away… We started with the wine and had the meat dish well into our second pouring. Lionel was yet again summoned to honor us with the opening of our first heavy duty red wine of the evening The Saint Estephe Chateau Cos d’Estournel 1986 which was prepared well in advance. This is a glorious wine from an ace Cos vintage year and a wine I had many times over the years The 1986 is a highly extracted wine, with dark ruby color and plenty of toasty, smoky in its bouquet that suggest ripe plums and licorice. It should exhibit massive ripe fruit, with extremely concentrated flavors and has impressive depth and richness. But in hindsight maybe because it preceded our next wine, it was not to be the wine to cause all to fall off their chairs today. So we opened what turned to be the crown of the evening: Château Latour 1983. It was robed in rich, dark ruby red color slightly fading to amber. Nose with earthy, mineral scents and a seam of rich blackcurrant fruit, with a slight vegetal undertones. Medium bodied and supple. Mature, meaty flavours of plum and dried fruits, but delightful nuances of fresher violet and floral character, So many superlatives to a wonderfully balanced wine andstill fresh with a deceiving young touch even on its 27th year. The fresh fruit with mineral edge added to complexity. Very good length with a depth of fruit, properly balanced with the rounded integrated tannins. The scents of rotting mushrooms and leather soap adding to the complexity which evolved slowly in the glass into a more creamy touch of sweet dried figs compote with cinnamon and cloves. Another sigh of content was heard around the table and before long whilst we were still having our second helping of the perfectly prepared juicy Saddle And what a wine The Chateau Latour 1983t was! a perfect complement to the dish and more…
I had to take the 8 steps down the pirate ship plank to the cellar to get a wine to match or at least complement the wonderful LATOUR, my selection of Bordeaux’s is not bad for a wine cellar in a remote place, still this is a choice that has to be made quickly my guests are not a forgiving crowd…,, so I decided we would move from Paulliac to what in my mind the best Saint Emilion grand Cru Chateau. The Chateau Cheval Blanc 1988 which on its own would have been what I have on my previous tasting notes from the past: Deep shiny Bordeaux colour, looks younger than its age, with powerful, concentrated bouquet of Blackberry and blackcurrant and very spicy black pepper and cloves.Subtle oak and a slightly toasted. Very elegant and refined wine with good concentration and a classy Cheval-Blanc character. Very well balanced on the palate with freshness (reminiscent of minty green peppers), and firm tannin, but today it was shadowed by the Latour.
Press play to watch Video:
The meal was glorious but as you can see it was a meal to complement a night of wine sampling rather than wines that suited a meal, that in fact does not take anything from our enjoyment of the food or our gratitude to the chef and his efforts.
Thank you Yossefi for agreeing to cook in an unfamiliar surroundings Luckily you brought you own posh chef’s knife. Thanks to Lionel, Meirav, Shaul, for the company and the insights into their impressions of the wines and Vive La France and King John for making Bordeaux (when at best) what it is. Thanks for Riedel glasses that kept the wonderful scent of the Latour well after the glasses where empty and into the desert.