The restaurant was created in 2004 by Alan Yau, who previously created the Japanese Wagamama and Thai Busaba Eathai restaurant chains as well as the more expensive Hakkasan restaurant, also in London. Like Hakkasan, Yauatcha gained a Michelin star rating in 2005, which it has retained.
In January 2008, Yau sold a majority interest in Yauatcha and Hakkasan to Tasameem, part of the Abu Dhabi Investment Authority.
Yauatcha opened a branch in Mumbai in December 2011, and another branch in Bangalore in September 2013, Delhi in November 2013 Kolkata in September 2014, and Honolulu and Houston in 2017. The Honolulu location has since closed.