Such acutely stylish venues rarely last, but after a decade Yauatcha can add longevity to its enviable list of attributes. So why do people still glide down the stairs of this self-styled Taipai tea house into its sensual basement? The design helps: the long bar, spot-lit black tables and illuminated fish tank still have allure, and the nightclub vibe is boosted by beautiful staff and bass-heavy beats. Even being shunted away to seats behind the staircase has benefits (privacy).
And there’s substance behind the style. Day-and-night dim sum was a Yauatcha innovation, and a special of scallop and edamame crystal dumplings produced three delicate, pendulous sacs filled with a textural mix of resilient beans, crunchy carrot morsels, flavourful fragments of scallop and juicy sweetcorn. Gai lan came with just enough salted fish sauce to pique the palate, and fragrant lotus leaf rice held moist treats of egg, chicken and dried shrimps.
Exotic teas and East-West fusion desserts (yuzu brûlée tart) are highlights too (sample them in the ground-floor tea room), and main courses hold interest (sea bass with shiitake and wolf berry, say), but grazing on exquisite snacks is the primary culinary draw – though prices might make you wince.