Last week I had the great fortune to dine at yam'Tcha in Paris, a hidden treasure, tucked away on a tiny side street between Les Halles and the Louvre . I silently thank my gracious [and persuasive] Parisian friend daily for getting us a table on a cancellation.
Not only did we get in to this 20 seat gem [the typically wait is two months], we got the best seats in the house: the kitchen table.
Watching Chef Adeline Grattard and her crew create her Cantonese inspired dishes in the tiny space was an incredible pleasure. For me, the deft, practiced efficiency of a kitchen like this is a thing of beauty.
Being served this soft, rich oolong just after being seated, I knew I was in for a really good ride. To go along with the meal, guests can choose a wine pairing, tea pairing or combination of the two. I went the combo tea and wine route, because I just want to experience it all.
No less enticing was this amuse of slivered beans, wok seared tofu and sesame just layered with bright, crisp ginger and citrus.
The barely seared, marinated tuna belly atop a perfectly citrusy melange of miniature Mexican cucumbers, chanterelles, radish, cherry tomatoes and mussels was a gorgeous combination of flavors and textures. And the pork fat scented, steamed buns just melted in the mouth.
This dish is a revelation for me: blanched celeriac slaw topped with perfectly seared scallops. Hiding there under the foam is citrus roe and a sprinkling of salt. [Note: those are not the same buns -- the first round had already been devoured!]
The morue fillet was flash basted with wok oil and served atop dry sauteed shrimp and delicately spiced blackbean braised cabbage.
The wines were divine: a Coume del Mas from the Collioure region (near the border with Spain), a crisp chardonnay from the Jura region (near Switzerland), and a Christophe Abbet rouge with lots of character from the Valais region in Switzerland.
This is the most deeply umami (and as my dining companion accurately phrased it: masculine) dish I think I've ever eaten. Smoky, marinated sweetbreads atop a rich mixture of chanterelles and cherry tomatoes, draped with paper-thin, smoked Ibérican pork belly.
The cheese course is the only patently 'French' part of the meal. The mild, luscious cheese is made by the monks at St. Nicolas abbey in Cîteaux from their own herd.
Dessert was a perfect marriage of the chef's French and Cantonese allegiances: fresh mango, raspberry and passion fruit with lightly sweetened fromage frais, topped with a raw sugar tuile.
Dessert was paired with a delicate, sweet jasmine tea -- balancing out the tart passion fruit and citrus. Like everything throughout the meal, on its own, the tea was wonderful: as a partner to the dessert, it enhanced the other component and was in turn enhanced by the food. The whole of the evening was just phenomenal. Merci beaucoup!