One of this year's most eagerly-anticipated new restaurants arrives this month. Yauatcha, the Michelin-starred dim sum restaurant from the Hakkasan Group, has begun accepting reservations ahead of its opening March 29.
In development since the end of 2015, the 10,200-square foot space, 240-plus seat space is located in The Galleria's Westheimer-facing "jewel box" building that's home to Miami-based luxury boutique The Webster. It's located directly across from the Cheesecake Factory and Shake Shack. Decor by Paris-based firm GBRH will feature colors colors consistent with feng shui principles while providing a modern interpretation of a classic Chinese teahouse.
“At Yauatcha we seek to blend fresh ingredients with classic techniques to create new taste sensations that will delight the palate,” said Chef Ho Chee Boon in a statement. “We have crafted the Yauatcha Houston menu to reflect its refreshingly diverse local culture and rich culinary heritage.”
In preparation for the opening, executive chef Ho has visited Houston and crafted a menu designed to offer both classic dim sum fare and dishes specifically designed to appeal to Houstonians. Options include scallop shui mai (minced prawn topped with a scallop wrapped with dough and garnished with orange tobiko), venison puff, and jasmine tea-smoked pork ribs. In addition to smaller dim sum plates, the restaurant will also offer full-size entrees featuring duck, seafood, and noodles. The menu also includes French patisserie options such as macarons and petits gateaux created by pastry chef Graham Hornigold. Beverage options will include an assortment of 24 organic teas as well as a full cocktail menu.
The restaurant will also have a local touch courtesy of marketing manager Gigi Huang. The former owner of Gigi's Asian Bistro will serve as a liaison between the restaurant and the bold-faced names it wants to attract as customers.
Yauatcha has yet to release pricing information, but the recently-opened location in Waikiki offers a hint that diners can expect to pay considerably more than what they're used to at dim sum restaurants on Bellaire Blvd. Most of the small plates run from $6 to $12, although some approach $20. Larger items range from $20 to $35, with a few more luxurious items (lobster, truffle-roasted duck) clocking in between $50 and $100. All-in with food and cocktails, it seems likely diners will spend $50 or more per person.
Whether that's worth it depends on each individual's taste and budget, but the days of thinking all Asian cuisines should be inexpensive are long gone. Consider the stylish crowds filling Le Colonial every night as just one more sign that Houstonians will embrace an upscale concept if it's well-executed. Given its pedigree, Yauatcha certainly looks poised to join those ranks.