Can anyone tell me about Aida the Japanese restaurant in Paris? Is it worth going to? My husband and I will be visiting Paris from Los Angeles in a couple of weeks and I was interested in going to this restaurant, but can't find much info on it except that is was the first non-French restaurant to get a Michelin star a couple of years ago. Thanks in advance!
Wow, the dinner at Aida was amazing! I’m not sure why this restaurant gets no love on this site, well, I guess I do understand a little bit…you go to Paris to eat French cuisine, not Japanese :)
My husband and I went a couple of weeks ago during or trip to France. The chef is very sweet and talented. I had a very nice conversation with him throughout dinner. I do speak Japanese, so it was easier to communicate with him, but he is fluent in French. He’s lived in France for over 10 years. He was very kind and patient answering all my questions about the food. It’s a very small restaurant. There are only about 9 counter seats, about 6 table seating and a private tatami room which I didn’t see. When people think of Japanese food they always think sushi. He only served one course of sashimi and cooked most everything on the teppanyaki (hot griddle). And it’s nothing like the teppanyaki at Benihana! This is very refined cuisine. You have a choice of either a course with or without Homard. We picked the one with Homard and was not disappointed. If you don’t want the Homard, you will get some sort of fish course instead. Our seats were right in front of the chef at the counter and I would recommend that this is THE best place to sit if you are interested in watching your food being prepared. There a few dishes that come from the back. I imagine there is a sous chef in the back kitchen. In front is only the Chef and his one assistant and the rest of the wait staff.
On to the food…I only wrote down the courses after we got back to our hotel room, so my memory may be a little hazy…
Amuse…Homard with a pea puree. So delicate and delicious! Most all of his base is dashi stock (Japanese fish/seaweed stock) which was very delicate and flavorful. It’s actually hard to make a dashi that is this good!
The next course was very simple and light. I think a large part of Japanese cuisine is the presentation and portion control. On one plate there was…½ small Japanese turnip that was soaking in dashi, 1 small cauliflower floret also in the dashi stock and the most amazing part of this course was Couteau de Mer. I thought the Couteau de Mers was mushrooms when I saw him grilling it, I had to ask him what it was and he only knew the French and Japanese name…he could only tell me that they were a type of clam that meant knife in French. I finally looked it up on my iPhone and figured out it was a Razor Clam which we can’t get in LA. The only other place I’d had it was in London. We were both very happy that I was able to figure out the English translation…lol All the ingredients of this plate were prepared on the teppan. The aroma was lovely, you could smell the lightness of the vegetables mixed with the dashi. The turnip was served with a small dab of miso.
Next was slices of squid which also was prepared on the teppan, but I don’t remember much about it, but that is was good. I’m not much of a squid fan, but I did like this. The sashimi course was also squid which I didn’t care for that much because I guess I just don’t like squid, especially when it is raw…it’s too slimy for me. I know anybody else would love the dish. It was served with fresh grated wasabi. He also served a little “salad” to go with the sashimi. It was very thinly sliced cucumber, myoga (Japanese ginger bud) and Shiso (Japanese Basil/Perilla). You have to have great knife skills to be able to make this combo! I figure if I didn’t like THIS raw squid, I just don’t like it. It was such a huge portion too, but I ate all of it because I didn’t want to insult the chef…lol I guess it’s a Japanese thing :)
Next was plain cabbage in a sauce pan on top of the teppan in dashi stock. The component that made this course amazing was the small clams and it’s broth that he served it with.! Before you even tasted the broth with your mouth, you could taste it with your nose…so amazing! He added a very tiny piece of the cabbage to go with it. Yes, plain cabbage….not even nappa cabbage…I had to ask him twice!
Next was Veal Sashimi/Carpaccio & Scallops in a Yuzu Gelee. Delectable!! I’ve never had raw veal, but this was delicious!! It went very well with the scallops and the slight taste of yuzu (Japanese citrus).
The highlight of the meal was the Homard. They are alive and he cuts them in half and serves ½ per customer. The assistant takes the empty shell and squeezes out all the innards from it and mixes it with sake and makes a sauce out of it. The chef puts the tail on top of the teppan with a little water and covers it for a few minutes. He then adds the tomalley sauce to the lobster and cuts it up in bite size pieces then serves it in the shell. The Homard is perfectly cooked and the flavor is very unusual, but very Japanese:)
The last course is Chateaubriand. It’s cooked in a very traditional teppan style. The beef is aged and the cows are from somewhere in France…I can’t remember where he said… He puts the whole steak on the grill and then cubes it before serving. He also slices garlic very thinly and puts it on the teppan until they get crispy like potato chips! The steak is served with a soy/ponzu sauce and a sesame sauce, the garlic, a bowl of rice and a bowl of miso soup. I love rice with my beef! Again, very Japanese :)
For dessert he made 2 different strawberry ice creams. One was creamy, he adds avocado to it to make it creamy! It also had some kind of green specks in it, but shoot, I can’t remember exactly what it was…this was our first dinner in France on our 10 day trip… The other was more like a sorbet. They both were so delicious! It reminded me of strawberry desserts from when I was a child in Japan!
I really enjoyed the restaurant and would highly recommend it. It was like being in Japan. I wish we had a restaurant of this caliber here in LA. I’d be going often! They also have a very nice wine list.
The cost for the course with the Homard was 160 euros and I think without would have been around 130 Euros.
Unfortunately, I was too busy talking to the chef and eating his food that I forgot to take any pictures:(
Well you've convinced me.
I think the French critics have received it very well but I think you are correct, most of us on this site are looking for French-French cooking, and I'd tout the new l'Agape in the 17th as an example. http://johntalbottsparis.typepad.com/...
Excuse me for asking, because I do complain that folk don't post the real cost; was 160 E for one or two persons?
re: John Talbott
John, thanks for posting! It's a great compliment that I have convinced you :o) I've enjoyed reading your website researching restaurants for my trip!
Yes, the 160 E is for one person. It's not a once a week type of place to go... Our total bill was 500 E for two people. We had one full bottle of wine and also 1/2 bottle of wine. The meal was very leisurely, it took about 3 hours.
Hope you do try it one day!
I am bordering on ignorance when it comes to top-end Japanese cuisine, but 2 friends are very into it, so I took them about a year ago and they judged it exceptional; I thought the product was of good quality and very fresh; the lobsters were still alive. The place is small, with seating around the chef's work space as well as a few tables. There were 3 fixed menus, as I recall averaging about €100/person without wine. You could order à la carte as I recall but the prices were punitive.
Thank you for all the info Laidback! That is very helpful. I thought it would be interesting to try a high-end Japanese restaurant in Paris since Japanese chefs have such a delicate touch with Franco Japanese food. I wanted to see how it compares with restaurants in Japan. Here in LA, we have many Japanese restaurants...mostly sushi, but nothing like the precision and detailed gourmet meals that you can get in Japan.
The concierge at the hotel has made reservations for me. I will report back after my experience.