Yam'Tcha: Precision, Elegance and Creativity

 Langoustine, onions, pomegranate, goji berry and tarragon

Langoustine, onions, pomegranate, goji berry and tarragon

There is plenty to love about Adeline Grattard’s Yam‘Tcha. Her French-Asian themed food is unique, well-thought-out, beautiful, and welcomingly assertive. The restaurant, relocated from rue Sauval in mid 2015, draws you in immediately with the appealing cooking aromas that waft from the semi-open kitchen, the coziness of the well-crafted wooden birch tables and elegant yet comfortable arm chairs, the frivolity of the tiny garden brightened by a white stone floor, the openness of the well-lit, well-stocked wine cellar.

Grattard’s pedigree includes time spent with three-Michelin star chefs Yannick Alléno (Pavillon Ledoyen) and Pascal Barbot (Astrance), and their influence on her food is evident: precision, elegance and a confidence to be creatively adventurous. She makes a rare team with her Chinese tea-sommelier husband, Chi Wah Chan, offering a careful selection of refined, soothing teas to accompany Grattard’s carefully constructed dishes (Yam’tcha, afterall, is the Mandarin word for ‘drink tea’.) Wine pairings are also available.

She employs and embraces a multitude of seasonal ingredients, and as you sample her fare, you feel as though everything from that vibrant red pomegranate seed to the brilliant green wild garlic emulsion are there for a reason and not simply as window dressing.

Any chef can win me over in a millisecond when they offer some of my truly favorite ingredients: asparagus, langoustines, and a shower of fresh black truffles. And she did. Her love for citrus as well as sweet and sour combinations come through loud and clear, as in her duo of white and green asparagus dressed with a frothy sauce of mandarin orange tinged with touches of kumquat, a dish with a lovely citrus bounce.

I am not sure where she secured the gigantic, soothingly rich langoustines, but they were cooked to a delicate perfection, paired with a bright sweet and sour sauce laced with crunchy pomegranate seeds and tangy goji berries. Each dish is complex without being overbearing, and by the end of the meal we were satisfied but not digestively assaulted, a rare feat after a seven course meal.

As a collector of modern as well as antique china and pottery, I wanted to walk away with a few of her colorful dinner plates, some from popular French designer Sarah Lavoine. Each is thoughtfully paired with a specific dish, from the golden ocher plates for the asparagus to the bright red pottery for the slow-cooked and tender Iberian pork that was showered with slices of exquisite fresh black truffles.

To add additional excellence to a wonderful dining experience, sommelière Marine Delaporte offers a brilliant and well-considered glass of wine with each course, accompanied by thoughtful and enthusiastic commentary with each pour. Of the six selections sampled, I truly loved the 2015 Riesling Cuvée Albert from Albert Mann, a distinctive Alsatian white that is well-balanced, ripe, juicy, and aromatic. Equally satisfying was the Loire Valley white Jasnières Rosiers 2015 Eric Nicolas, dry with the tiniest touch of sweetness.  The choice of mostly white wines with the meal was refreshing.

I was less enthused about the understated first course of rice-based congee with cubes of foie gras and the equally disappointing soup laced with scallops and mushrooms which lacked the personality and forward flavors of her other dishes.

 But at the end, Grattard totally surprised me with a dessert that included a bright green sorrel soup with a bitter almond (orgeat) sorbet, paired with a well-constructed mini-tart of a single prune wrapped in a coat of lemon jelly, topped with a Champagne granité.

Although I am generally not a fan of set menus where the diner has no choices, and each dish is a complete surprise, it works here, since the chef has so many layers and volumes, it is a treat to experience it all. And the wine and tea pairings only help amplify the experience.

Reserving at Yam’tcha can be tricky and staff don’t always answer the phone. Persistence is the key. By phone you’ll most likely be successful on a Tuesday when the restaurant is closed but staff are there. Otherwise I recommend stopping in at the restaurant to make a reservation in person, if time permits.

YAM ‘TCHA   |   121 rue Saint Honoré   |   Paris 1   |   Tel: +33 1 40 26 08 07   |   Métro: Louvre-Rivoli   |   Open Wednesday – Saturday. Closed Sunday & Monday   | Lunch and dinner: 60€ and 135€ menus, with options for 40€ tea tasting and 70€ wine tasting   |   Reservations essential.

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