In French, a bonne adresse is literally translated as: a good address. It’s a place to eat, drink, or hang out, usually a business, that you would recommend to all your friends. Today I want to share one of mine in Paris.
If you’re a fan of Chef’s Table: France on Netflix, you have probably seen the episode featuring the Franco-Chinois cuisine of Adeline Grattard and her husband Chi Wah, who run a Michelin-starred restaurant called Yam’Tcha in Paris. I certainly do not have the budget to go to Michelin starred restaurants, nor the patience to try and get reservations, so thankfully they have a more casual, affordable counterpart in the same neighborhood that they call “Yam’Tcha Boutique,” where you can get fresh food from a sreet-side window, or sit in the tiny dining area sans reservations. My Stepdad, being really into the Nexflix show and a connoissuer of fine tea, made me promise that I would go have a taste of their famous Bao and high quality Asian tea before I left Paris, and I made good on that promise at the last minute, just a few days before moving away, with my friend Daniela.
Yam’Tcha Boutique is located on a quiet street near the bustling Châtelet-Les Halles quartier. One minute you’re amid construction, shoppers, crowds of commuters and honking horns, and the next minute you find yourself in a peaceful little street. The restaurant is quite tiny, but that’s not unusual for Paris. Inside you’ll simply find one long table that seats about 10 people communally, and a few extra seats at the tea bar. Since it was so cold outside, we wanted to eat indoors instead of at the window, and thankfully there were two seats available, so we squeezed ourselves between strangers on either side and got ready to try some new food.
The whole reason I went to Yam’Tcha was to try their Bao, which are steamed buns filled with various things, but I forgot to take my camera out until after we had already consumed them, so I have no pictures. Bao are traditionally Chinese, but at Yam’Tcha, the fillings were Euroopean-inspired. They had one with Stilton cheese and a smattering of cherry; another with Comté cheese, onions and curry; another with basque ham and Sichuan eggplant; one with blood sausage; and finally, one with spicy vegetables and smoked tofu. We ordered all 5 and tried each, although I was a little weirded out by the blood sausage one.
After chowing down on those baos – I really loved the springy texture of the steamed dough – I ordered “Crevettes pochées en boullon, nouilles de patate douce,” or shrimps poached in broth with sweet potato noodles. It was very light in flavor and texture, not heavy at all, which I was surprised at because the only other Asian soup I’ve had is ramen, which can be extremely salty and fatty. It was so beautiful the way it was presented with the little egg and delicate bowl, and I could tell how fresh the shrimps were.
Along with our meal we ordered the thé du jour, but I wouldn’t be able to tell you what kind it was. Actually, the man who prepared and served us the tea was none other than the chef’s husband, the very same one featured in the Netflix episode! We was very polite, friendly and helpful. I ended up buying a bag of loose tea leaves to take home with me as a christmas gift for my stepdad, who was the one to encourage me to visit Yam’Tcha in the first place.
They really take tea seriously here. I do not have the palette required to appreciate the subtleties of tea, and if I’m being honest, they all taste like grass-flavored water to me. Nevertheless, I appreciate the art form that it is, and the respect and elegance that goes into the entire tea brewing and drinking process. Not to mention the fact that all the teapots, cups and trays are beautiful objects, visually speaking.
I asked Chi Wah for a tea recommendation to bring home to my Stepdad. I told him how much he appreciates tea, so I want to bring home something high quality and unique, if possible. Something that you can’t find anywhere in the US. He recommended me their most expensive tea – 90€ per 100g, which is basically a very small bag! I told him that was a bit too expensive for me, so I went instead for the second most expensive, a Green Tea called ‘Misty Cloud – Avant la Pluie’ that cost about 45€, and was apparently, harvested just before the rainy season, which imparted some kind of special flavor or quality, I’m assuming. He made sure to reiterate that this tea should never be brewed for longer than 30 seconds, as well as the specific temperature of the water and amount of leaves to brew (in grams) for each pot. Wow. Talk about a universe of difference compared to Lipton teabags or British Breakfast tea laden with milk and sugar. They’re not even in the same realm. Although I do love myself a proper English cuppa from time to time – two sugars, splash of milk please!
If you’re looking for something a little different than your typical Parisian bistro, head on over to Yam’Tcha, address below.
Yam’Tcha – café & to-go window
4 rue Sauval, 75001 Paris
Open Wednesday – Saturday 11:30 – 22:00
4-5€ for a single Bao, 10-15€ for other dishes
Metro Louvre-Rivoli (Line 1) or Les Halles (Line 4)