This is one of the most unusual lunch experiences that I have had and please pay attention to the note at the end of the article; situated about 30km west of Paris in the Yveilines village of Chapet is Ferme Yamashita, a strip of Japan in rural France. Each weekend, Asafumi Yamasita and his wife Naomi serve lunch at their communal table which seats up to 10. Naomi runs the kitchen whilst Asafumi, is somewhat of a celebrity in the world of Paris Michelin starred kitchens, growing and supplying top quality, hard to find Japanese vegetables to a niche selection of chef’s that include Pierre Gagnait and Eric Briffard (George V) and today, he is our waiter too.

A local brocante and closed roads didn’t help the sat-nav so after ditching the car we set forward on foot though needed help from several locals before eventually stumbling on Ferme Yamasita and a smiling, very relaxed Asafumi. Glorious sunshine so we were invited to wait at the rear of the house for the arrival of more guests, overlooking mysterious poly-tunnels of produce, which proved to be an excellent idea because from here we could beckon to strays and get a much longed for lunch underway.

We began by a tour of the 3300 sq. m garden that is given over to a bountiful selection of vegetables, all reared from seed and hand tended by Asafumi. Edamame beans took my eye as did the pretty two-tone Kinjiso leaves with their heady citrus flavour and ‘bite’. We examined tiny aubergines, daikon, maize, tomatoes and a plethora of ‘greens’, the cast away trimmings keeping a cage of Bress chickens very content indeed.

12.30 lunch was served at a huge refectory table but in a less than ordinary setting; a chaotic and dusty family room where a child who was obviously used to weekend guests, happily sat at the family table and whiled away time with an etch-a-sketch. Surrounded by a raised platform, supporting an assortment of legless car chairs, this second table arrangement was perhaps to embrace the Japanese custom of floor level seating, 

Lunch began with kinjiso leaves in broth and continued, dish after dish of what must have included a taste of most of Asafumis’ vegetables. The attention to detail of each course was superb; fine amuse bouche dishes of vegetable slithers were complimented by broths, miso, tempura and herbs and included a fritter of cod and prawns, a dish of crisp, succulent chicken before finally, a dessert of sweet rice-pate and green tea. I lost count of the courses but believe to have been 10, each one being Japanese bite sized but through sheer quantity we finished the meal happily sated which was probably with intention as the family Yamasita retreated to the kitchen to enjoy their own meal in peace whilst we were left to chat, eventually leaving at gone 16.30…

The food was simple but excellent and superbly demonstrated the progression of flavour and complexity as the meal continued and the quality of produce is second to none; we all commented that the maize was the best that any of us had tasted. Service was relaxed and polite with Asafumi providing a detailed description of each dish. I wholeheartedly recommend [see note below] Ferme Yamasita but it should be noted that a reservation can be several weeks away and, this is a table d’hôte setting where the attention to general cleanliness and tidiness perhaps doesn’t reflect that of a more conventional restaurant.

The price is still to be determined and I shall update accordingly. Research indicates €40 per head but somewhere in translation we each paid €80, which in the confusion of leaving wasn’t rectified and is in the process of address….

Ferme Yamashita
Cheminde Trois poirrers
78130 Chapet

01 30 91 98 75
09 54 69 07 17

A13, Junction 8

note: we await a return of cheque after an interesting, lengthy telephone discussion about the price of wine which was not advertised or discussed at the table yet (retail priced at Euro 11) doubled the price of the final bill from Euro 80 per couple to Euro 160... good food but, not at all happy at being ripped off...

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