Resto: Sabō, his majesty of tea

Great gastronomy can be recognized by the lightness of a gesture, by its very effacement. It starts at the reception. In the vast high-rise entrance to Ogata, a living place where Japanese aesthetic rigor applies to the restaurant as well as to the craft shop, gallery, bar and tea room, a woman with hair steep confirms our reservation. In a few words, she guides us to the dark stairs that seem to swallow her. Her figure fades, leaving us facing Sabō.

The place embodies the praise of the shadow dear to Junichirô Tanizaki. On the left, below, a large counter of burnt wood marks the limit between know-how and know-how to taste. On the one hand, tea masters, dressed in chemist’s coats, measure their movements by the yardstick of their breathing. On the other hand, neophytes and amateurs speak more or less aloud according to the degree of interest they have in the art of tea. For Shinichiro Ogata, designer, restaurateur, esthete, at the origin of this unique place in Paris, tea is the link between nature and culture, between tradition and contemporaneity.

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In the chiaroscuro, water flows from a square wooden ladle to a terracotta teapot. Copper jars of different shapes and sizes house various spring waters and varying temperatures (ambient, 35 ° C, 75 ° C, 95 ° C). Water is the preamble to the Sajiki, a confusing ceremony to which we have decided to submit.

The four fantastic infusions

From a gyokuro picked mechanically in Kyoto, infused at 35 ° C for three minutes in a deep dish with a spout that acts as a teapot, liquid curls of round bitterness are born with accents of wet wood. A second infusion reveals a dull edge while the third, at 75 ° C, reveals the liveliness of this green leaf which has not finished its metamorphosis.

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For the fourth infusion, a man with glasses announces an iced tea. In a millimeter gesture, he greets his ladle by positioning it parallel to his bust before plunging it into the copper tank. He pours the water at 95 ° C into the deep plate, then the tea in a large glass on a zest of yuzu and ice cubes which crack from the heat. Like the bartender, he stare (mix) the watery cocktail with a long spoon, before serving it in a champagne flute. The man squeezes a zest of the mischievous citrus fruit between his fingers, spraying the glass with a mist of yuzu.

Red bean paste coated with sweet sticky rice (top), dried persimmon (left) and yokan (a kind of fruit paste) with chestnuts and sweet potatoes.

Using the tips of his chopsticks, he then places the leaves of the infused gyokuro four times on a terracotta dish, moistening it with a dash of ponzu sauce. Chewed tea leaves offer the pleasure of a tangy surprise when iced tea is like the tender leaf of a tree in its first spring. Then will come a roasting of hojicha, moments when time cracks, the flickering of a candle, a mouthful of candied persimmon stuffed with white bean paste and salted butter: an architecture that has the good taste of s’ pass out on the palate. Here we are.

The address Sabō, Ogata, 16, rue Debelleyme, Paris 3e. Phone. : 01-80-97-76-80. Open Wednesday to Sunday, from noon to 7 p.m., by reservation only.

The essential dish The wagashi of the month. In November, the dried persimmon in salted butter.

L’addition 60 € for a sajiki, tea tasting in four stages, accompanied by a few bites.

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Resto: Sabō, his majesty of tea

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