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Update: in March 2010, Yam’Tcha received its first Michelin star.

Following a spate of rave reviews in the Paris press, I’m a little reluctant to call any more attention to Yam’Tcha, a pleasant new restaurant in a quiet street in the Les Halles district. Not only is it such a sweet and fragile place I worry it will have trouble coping with more notoriety, but sometimes praise can raise unreasonable expectations. In response to the recession, the Paris restaurant scene, already cautious compared to New York, San Francisco, or London, has become even quieter and more conservative. Putting Yam’Tcha (“drink tea” in Mandarin) in that context, then, it’s a real standout.

Young chef Adeline Grattard, 31, works in a galley-sized glass-walled kitchen just inside the front door of this small space with exposed medieval stone walls and beams overhead. Grattard has an impressive Parisian resumé—she worked with Yannick Alléno at the Hotel Scribe (before he went on to three stars at Le Meurice) and Pascal Barbot at L’Astrance—but it was a two-year stint in Hong Kong that inspired her signature Franco-Asian cooking. She offers two tasting menus that can be ordered with a different tea for each course, or wine, bien sûr. Grattard’s husband, Hong Kong native Chiwah Chan, takes charge of the teas and works from a small bar in the corner of the room. The menus change constantly, but Grattard frequently uses Asian seasonings (soy sauce and ginger) and techniques (steaming). The service was painfully slow during a recent dinner here, but I very much enjoyed an amuse-bouche of slivered broad beans with pork and sesame seed oil, grilled scallops on a bed of bean sprouts in a vivid green wild garlic sauce, Challans duckling with sauteed eggplant and Szechuan pepper, Cîteaux cheese with toast, and a splendid and very original dessert of homemade ginger ice cream with avocado slices and passion fruit.

4 rue Sauval, 1st, €45 per person without wine

Originally published in the June 2009 issue of France Today

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