Tea and Sashimi

At Chá, the tea is sensational. The sushi, not so much.

Chá Yoon

4 North Euclid

314-367-2209. Hours: 11 a.m.-10 p.m. Mon.-Thu.; 11 a.m.-11 p.m. Fri.-Sat.; 5-9 p.m. Sun. Sushi served 11 a.m.-2 p.m., 5-9 p.m. Mon.-Sat.; 5-9 p.m. Sun.

Chá Yoon Elixir Tea Bar just happens to serve sushi. As the name implies, however, the real stars at Chá Yoon are the drinks. Ordering can be a little imposing -- more than 60 teas and tonics are available, with names such as Jasmine Dragon Pearls, I of Newton, the Yoda, and the Morning After (a "hangover reprieve tonic"). Fortunately, owner Jay Yoon helps choose your drink.

The Tower of Zen, an iced South American green tea with green-apple flavoring, arrives in a tall pint glass, the bright-green, translucent liquid looking like a radioactive children's drink. The yerba mate tea that makes the base of the Tower of Zen is strong enough to let you know you're drinking tea but subtle enough to let the green-apple extract shine through. The Green Tea Honeydew Latte is full-bodied and is available with bubbles (tapioca pearls, which are fun to push against your teeth with your tongue but add little flavor).

Our order of Once Upon a Tea came to the table in a shimmering iron pot. Once I removed the filter, the steaming tea leaves bathed our table with the combined scents of mint and vanilla.

Chá Yoon is a delightfully small, subdued place. Dim lighting and earthy colors on the walls make for a relaxed atmosphere. The music needs to be turned up a touch, though -- the open kitchen produces too much noise.

Chá Yoon's sushi is disappointing. The tuna and the crab were watery, the shrimp tasted fishy and all of the nigiri pieces could have used a more generous dabbing of wasabi on their undersides. Although some of the maki -- the Veggie Combo Roll and the Spicy Tuna Roll -- were acceptable, they really didn't rank that far above grocery-store grade in taste, though in appearance they were a step up. The inari, rice enveloped in a soybean wrapper, were fabulous, sweet and cool.

Chá Yoon is worth going to for the unusual and tasty drinks and for the terrific ambiance. It's a great alternative to the bar scene but not a meal destination.

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