On a carriage at Yam'Tcha

Cristina Bowerman take us to Chi Wah’s and Adeline’s restaurant in Paris. A journey between East and West

27-04-2016

Chi Wah Chan from Hong Kong and French Adeline Grattard, husband and wife. Respectively maître/ tea sommelier and chef, have opened Yam'Tcha in 2009 in the Les Halles area, in Paris. It’s so successful you need to reserve long in advance (photo from Pinterest)

Paris is one of those cities I never grow tired of visiting. Two days in the Ville Lumière are enough to fill me with ideas, beauty, stimuli, relax. Artworks, exhibitions, palaces to visit, walks, but most of all (how could one do with out them) visits to restaurants, this time Frenchie, Issé, Des idées et des amis, though the unforgettable dinner was at chef Adeline Grattard’s, at restaurant Yam'tcha.

I met her here in Rome, and then I met her again in Lugano during a San Pellegrino dinner. I can perfectly remember the taste of the aubergines with duck, suspended between France and China, I was for quite some time uncertain about which profile of flavours I favoured. Being aware of the restaurant’s popularity, reopened after a lengthy renovation, I booked long in advance but unfortunately, when I arrived there was no record of the reservation. It was very full and the maître, though sorry, didn’t know where to seat me. I hadn’t told Adeline of my visit but when she saw me she came up to me with a big smile. In no time she made me sit in the old location of the Yam'Tcha, a tea room where her husband, tea “sommelier” Chi Wah Chan, is the host.

Scampi, bisque, scampi roe, white asparagus and mushrooms (photo by Bowerman)

Scampi, bisque, scampi roe, white asparagus and mushrooms (photo by Bowerman)

Sitting at the counter, Chi Wah briefs me on what he’s going to serve while asking me, as if we were speaking of wine, about my tastes. Let’s start: the first tea he serves is a Tieguanyin from Fujian. Looking at Chi Wah serving and listening to him while he speaks like one of our sommeliers would do of wine is quite enchanting. It’s as if I were back in Kunming for a moment. After the first sip of tea, he tells me not to worry about the order of the service and, to my great surprise, dishes start arriving from outside, right from the kitchen of the new and renovated Yam'tcha.

It’s Adeline herself who brings the first course from the new location, a short walk away. We start with a Red tuna tartare and a mini bao (a steamed bread roll) fried with creme fraîche and caviar, a small fried roll filled with fromage. And then one of the most memorable dishes: Chinese ravioli, gyoza, with an amazing meat filling and a very intense consommé. This is followed closely by scampi immersed in a deep bisque with a round flavour that is only interrupted by the scampi roe, crispy and perfectly sapid. A white asparagus and some mushrooms finish the dish with a vegetal note.

The tea changes, this time with scents of porcini. Useless to point out that all the china is very precious, original and obviously inspired by Asia. Of course there are also the bao, steamed buns characterising Chinese cuisine to which Adeline adds a skilful French touch. The first type, also sapid, with a blue cheese, the second, sweet, with black cherries.

CHEFS. Cristina Bowerman and Adeline Grattard

CHEFS. Cristina Bowerman and Adeline Grattard

Adeline’s cooking is modern, dynamic, itinerant. She takes you for a walk around the world yet with the slow speed of a carriage, not the violent rapidity of an airplane. The flavours of all the cultures she touches pass in front of you slowly in a soft and sometimes intangible alternation so much so it’s hard to identify the borders. A sometimes long journey which you often only notice at the end, waking up in a territory full of aromas and flavours you realise are different from the initial ones.

Together with all this came the service of the tea, following the rhythms of this food, echoing between pensive breaks and arduous restarts, enchanting you and helping you taste a slow meal in an extraordinary way. Thank you Adeline, thank you Chi Wah Chan. Time has come to return to my world, the one following a normal speed. I really hope to be able to come back soon and I look forward to cooking with her again, perhaps in Paris, this time, perhaps with calm. Lots of calm.

Yam'Tcha
Rue St. Honoré, 121
Paris, France
+33.(0)1.40260807
Tasting menu only, 60 and 135 euros
Closed the entire day on Sundays and Mondays and at lunchtime on Tuesdays


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