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Japanese Food in Paris?

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hi...NY/Asia-based Hound, who has recently moved to Paris...

So far, the Japanese options seem a bit grim...

Following a thread here, i went over to Rue St. Anne and tried two places...Kadoya was awful food (and despite the previous thread which lists it as Japanese-run, it is 100% Chinese-staffed: cooks, servers, etc, all gabbing it up in Mandarin --- i chatted w/ the staff: all from various parts of Mainland China)...i tried a second place (forgot the name) which was even worse...also vile food (i had two bites and asked for the check) and not Japanese-staffed...

Haven't tried any of the places on Rue Monsieur Le Prince, but they appear to mostly all Chinese run and the food i saw people eating looks sub-supermarket quality...

Went to Youlin, which is a fun place, but is French/Japanese fusion, and while the omakase was yummy, i was famished afterward as the portions are very small...

OK...where to get decent traditional sushi?: requirements: All-Japanese chefs/staff, fresh fish...is there an authentic izakaya anywhere?...open to all neighborhoods and all price ranges and all varieties of Japanese cuisine...arigato gozaimashita in advance...

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    1. re: Parigi

      I don't know which school of Japanese cooking it belongs to, I neglected to ask to see the the staffs id cards, so I don't know if they match up to your ethnic profiling requirements, but I've had two really good meals at Kiku, 56 rue de Richer in the 9th.

      Only ate there in the evening when there's a 35 € prix fix. 2 starters, 2 mains, one dessert.

      1. re: vielleanglaise

        Thanks for the suggestion, though i'm sad to say that it didn't work out...i actually hightailed it over there today after i read your post: got there at 1:50 and there were a couple empty tables...but as soon as i opened the door, the hostess immediately gave me a sour look and told me to leave because there were no tables available!...(i was dressed nice and was polite)...i asked if it was truly impossible to get a table for a quick lunch (they supposedly serve lunch til 2:30) and she responded with the ridiculous statement that the kitchen "has run out of rice" (^*&@???) and that it would take too long to cook more rice just for me...(what kind of a restaurant runs out of rice at 1:50 during lunch?)...

        I assume this was just a bad euphemism and that it's a place that refuses walk-ins on principal?...fwiw, the staff are Chinese...glad you've had nice meals there (and a dish i saw someone eating looked yummy), but after the experience today, i'm disinclined to return...

        1. re: Simon

          That's too bad. I've always been well received there, though as I mentoined above, it was in the evening, and as I know from working in them, especially in a commercial one like that corner of the 9t,, some restaurants are radically different between lunch and dinner services. Still, it's no excuse.

          Just did a little research: the chef here, Kyoichi Kai, is a bona fide nippon.

          1. re: vielleanglaise

            cool...perhaps i'll give it a shot at dinner some night w/ reservation...

            nothing lost though, as i wandered down to Passage des Panoramas and had a very yummy lunch at Coinstot Vino (amazing cold pea soup, glass of organic Chenin Blanc, and decent englefin (sp? some kind of fish) w/ pesto and rice...cute place...

            1. re: Simon

              Aiglefin or églefin = haddock. In the same passage there's Passage 53, with Shinichi Sato, ex Astrance, and Japanese.

              1. re: vielleanglaise

                interesting...i like that Passage de Panoramas, so i'll be sure to check it out...

    2. If price is no concern then try Aida in the 7th, to my knowledge the only Japanese restaurant with a Michelin star in Paris. Also Guilo Guilo in the 18th is highly regarded at a more reasonable price.

      4 Replies
      1. re: Laidback

        Thanks for these...what have you had/liked at Guilo Guilo?...is it really necessary to book very far in advance?...i'd heard of it before and when i did a search it was described as "new wave" Japanese cooking, but also a fun place, though difficult to get a reservation at...

        Second question: is Aida *only* teppanyaki or is it fine to go there and order other things?...thanks!

        1. re: Simon

          You really go to Aida for the teppanyaki. There are some dishes that don't require its use, like sushi or soup, but you'll quickly run out of options.

          1. re: olivierb

            Thanks...i'm not a huge teppanyaki fan unless in a group, so prob not my first choice...but good to know so i can save it for some group dinner in the future...

            1. re: Simon


              Here is my review of Aida from a couple of months ago. I would't call it a "Teppanyaki Restaurant" it's more of a Kaiseki style feel. They only have two set courses to choose from. It was one of the best Japanese meals I've ever had! Simon, I hope you have a chance to try it.

      2. François Simon (the food critic for Le Figaro) is a fanatic of Japanese food. You might want to look at his blog: http://francoissimon.typepad.fr/simon...

        1. Sorry I've been asleep here (and buried without access in the Loire) but there's a neat place that got overlooked because (1) it opened last December and (2) is near the Eiffel Tower which is considered Tourist Central. But Alexander Lobrano http://hungryforparis.squarespace.com... and I found quite good. Pix at John Talbott's Paris. Colette and i are going back this week in fact.

          4 Replies
          1. re: John Talbott

            hi John, the descriptions of the food at that place in the 15th sound delicious and i'll surely try it...yet, it also makes me sad when cities fail and/or succeed at some kind of fusion when there are few if any traditional restaurants of the fused cuisine to be had...

            This is true, for various cuisines, in NYC, LA, Paris, etc...for example Manhattan has lots of trendy bakeries but none that could come close any random bakery in the 6th...has various Asian fusion yet not a single solid Thai restaurant in the whole borough...while my Japanese explorations in Paris are still a work in progress, it's shaping up as a similar story...

            i'm hoping to find: a) a single decent traditional sushi place, b) a decent traditional izakaya, and c) i'd love a dedicated soba place but that's prob asking too much...

            But that Concert de Cuisine in the 15th is now on my list to try :)

            1. re: Simon

              Well, about fusion, at least the Japanese French variety; things have come a long way since the first places like Cartes Postales opened 25 years ago. I've tended to avoid them, except for Stella Maris 20 years ago and Ze 10 years ago, the latter of which I think of as more of a classic French chef who became enamoured of raw fish, asian products and spices after just one trip. In any case Concert sure feels Japanese, from the customer-facing cooktop, to sushi bar seats, to waitress, to language. And he cooked at the Nikko (their Japanese part) for over a decade. Anyhow, I'd be interested in your reaction.

              As for your question about Guilo Guilo, I went a while back and thought it overpriced but not tough to get into.

              1. re: John Talbott

                Simon: I want to amend the above and suggest you take Concert off your list; Colette and I ate there yesterday and while we really really liked it, it is not Japanese food that is traditional. He uses French and Japanese products, Western utensils but Japanese cooking gear, serves French wine and had a largely Asian clientele. But it occurred to me that if you want straight-up Japanese stuff, it's not the place for you. Sorry.

                1. re: John Talbott

                  hi...thanks for the cautionary words...but while i would like to find traditional Japanese food, i still want to try Concert anyway because it sounds very good...

          2. Great...will check out all the suggestions and blogs above...

            Tonight i went to Isami...which was an extremely depressing experience...the food wasn't terrible but if that's the best or close to the best sushi in Paris (as many sites claim), then we (meaning Paris residents who like sushi) are in serious trouble...

            First off, despite being a small place, they do not do by-the-piece omakase (which automatically drops it a tier below any real top sushi place)...so i cobbled together an order with the waiter while the sushi chef was slaving away oblivious to all customers...

            The maguri sashimi was bad mushy supermarket quality -- i was sort of embarassed for the chef that he had to serve it...the aji sashimi was good...

            Miso soup was excellent and fishy (which i i like)...

            Nigiri: Hamachi -- awful mush...Unagi -- average...Hotate -- decent...Iwashi -- average

            But the most glaring thing was the sushi rice: probably the worst, most mealy, flavorless rice i've ever had in a sushi restaurant that claims to be high-end...and, while i often find many places' sushi rice to be too sweet/vinegary for my personal taste, i could not taste *any* vinegar at all in the rice at Isami...kind of a bad joke really...

            The meal wasn't truly *bad*, but it was about on par with an average/mediocre mini-mall sushi place in Los Angeles or a cheapo place in NY's East Village or a medicore cheapo conveyer belt place in Japan...

            Oh, and the half-bottle of Chablis i had was dreadful/sweet and prob just them 2 Euros wholesale (it cost 17 there)

            It's the most local of local places to my home, but i'll surely never return, unless they dropped their prices 75% and sold packages to go for picnics by the Quai...

            4 Replies
            1. re: Simon

              You point out one (of a few maybe) original sins with the sushi places here in Paris: the non-soigné sushi rice. Not only does it not seem to have vinegar, it does not even seeml to have starch! If I were a Roman emperor eating sushi, I would give the thumb down right there.

              1. re: Parigi

                Good to have a confirmation on this!...it was so odd that i wasn't sure if my palate had gone dead or something!...

                1. re: Parigi

                  The water and rice here is not the same. Sometimes they don't understand that you can't serve the rice hot or warm either. It typically takes an apprentice sushi chef 2 years of practice making rice before he can even look at a fish.

                2. re: Simon

                  So glad I didn't waste my time on this place.

                  Can't Kunugawa or Benkay hook you up? Not cheap, but I'm not sure there are better options for the real deal in Paris.

                  Any sushi place that doesn't explicitly say otherwise is likely run by Chinese.

                3. l spend between 2-4 months a year in France, luckily the end of 2009 was spent in Tokyo. An inordinate amount of time was spent at Tsukiji, at least three times a week for the two months in Tokyo. l ate sushi at least 50 times in that period. It was awesome both inexpensive and some were mindblowingly expensive. Some better than others, but all were wonderful, wonderful. l rarely eat sushi now in USA, occasionally in NY, Phila, or La, but it is different, not as interesting and not as fresh, but not bad. In my 2 decades in Paris l have yet to find anything even decent. Gave up about 5 years ago. Wouldn't it be lovely to have someone who both knows and cares to open a place that is world class. my thoughts are that the French for whatever reason do not know sushi and do not want to. If our esteemed Souphie knows little and wants to know little, and he is the ultimate foodie here, how can we expect other Frenchmen/women to show interest. l was with Souphie in Manhattan at one of the best places in town for sushi and while that day wasn't the best, it was pretty good. He wasn't impressed, many are not, so be it. A cultural difference that may someday be changed, but for now, nope

                  26 Replies
                  1. re: Delucacheesemonger

                    My guess is the difference is that in Japan the fish is really fresh, in tip top condition, and will have had a "sashimi kill" prior to landing. In the EU (and I think the US) the food standards dictate that all sashimi fish must be frozen (minus 20 for 24 hours) to eradicate any parasites. I am pretty certain they they don't require this in Japan as the sashimi chefs are highly trained to spot and not serve any fish affected by parasitic worms.

                    Some say this doesn't matter because all fish is frozen at sea prior to landing, but I don't buy this for sashimi grade fish at Tsukiji (and other countries which don't require freezing), in Sydney for example the standard for sashimi grade is fish that is still in peak-rigor mortis with flesh that still feels stiff, if it has gone soft is is no longer suitable. In France (and the rest of Europe) this obviously won't be the case if it has been frozen so the search for tip top sushi and sashimi will be long and fruitless.

                    1. re: Delucacheesemonger

                      In NYC, did you guys hit Blue Ribbon?

                      I think the real deal could find clients in Paris, but the prices would likely need be 100-150 euro per person to break even.

                      1. re: Busk

                        Blue Ribbon prob would do well here...it's far from top sushi (it's not even top ten in NYC) but is better than what Paris has...the one in Soho is fun because of the rustic seating and late-night and/or afternoon hours and makes for a fun date...but the sushi is just slightly above average...

                        1. re: Simon

                          I haven't been in 10 years, but it used to be quite good and I know people still go (Soho branch).

                          I probaby don't have the patience to wait to get in to a Top 10 sushi place in NYC...

                        2. re: Delucacheesemonger

                          hey Deluca...have you been to Takara?...i have not but am wondering if it's worth the trip...

                          I'm about ready to give up too, but i figured i'd try Takara, Guilo Guilo, Concert de Cuisine, and Kunitoraya (Rue Ste. Anne) and then give it up if none work...also i saw on an old thread a rec for the blandly-named Sushi Gourmet in the 16th...

                          Well, at least we have surprisingly good Isaan food here in Paris, which is slightly more crucial a craving for me than Japanese food, and which is also harder to find in the Western hemisphere than Japanese...

                          1. re: Simon

                            Intrigued about the Isaan comment. I couldn't find good basic Thai there let alone Isaan, I assumed it would be far too hot for French palettes. Where are you eating it?

                            1. re: PhilD

                              hi Phil,

                              Rouammit (in Chinatown, same owners as Lao-Lane Xang next door) is my favorite...it's at 105 Ave d'Ivry...

                              Besides Rouammit, i've been happily surprised to find decent/good Isaan at other places too...Lao Siam in Belleville is decent (though maybe not quite as good as the hype)...

                              And the other day, i went to Rouammit but there was a long wait, so i went to a randomly chosen place nearby called Lao Thai...what made me take a chance on it was that they list bla-ra (greyish rotten fish sauce) specifically on the menu w/ their somdam (most places do not even have it, as even some Thai people find it too fishy/strong/rotten)...while the waiters are at Lao Thai are Chinese, the cook and manager are Thai, and they made my somdam and laab moo (ground pork salad) exactly as requested...

                              And, even Chieng Mai Restaurant (Rue Frederic Sauton), which is more upscale in vibe and has a lot of tourists and few Asian customers, is better most Thai places in Western cities...the laab gai there is very solid if you request it spicy...

                              However, i should add that, at all these places, i chat w/ the staff/cook first in Thai and order very specifically in Thai: i.e. lots of bla-ra, extra-spicy like a real Isaan person would eat, lots dried shrimp, no sugar, etc)...so that helps, and it's possible that ordering just from the menu might net blander results at some of the places...

                              but Isaan food is far and away the cuisine i am most picky about, so i was delighted to find so many decent-to-excellent options here...

                              1. re: Simon

                                Allow me to defend Lao SIam. First, I did not it was hyped. Is it?
                                And like many Asian restos here, the menu goes on and on, stretching the length of War And Peace. But there are about 5 worthwhile dishes per resto, wherever you go. If you befriend the restaurateur, he will actually advise you not to order "all the other dishes that are for … the others". (Am quoting here.)
                                Lao Siam's 5 are: the two celloophane noodle cassarole with either shrimp or langouste, quail sautéed in its own weight in garlic, beef salad, deepfried monkfish, liserons d'eau.
                                The only exception of this 5-dish limit is Q-Tea. It has the shortest menu, plus the chef changes it every week. And everything is good, down to the bubble tea.

                                1. re: Parigi

                                  Although my own n'est que plus dishes aren't the same as Parigi's (I'd go for the salade douce, the jelly fish salad, the dried beef, the dried fish salad, the spare ribs on a bed of garlic, the weird looking dessert with gelatinous fruits and coconut - that Parigi, despite her always admirable prose, got the name wrong of in a recent post, but that I can't remember the name of now) I second her defence of Lao Siam, a fine and justifiably famed Belleville institution.

                                  I also really like Minh Chau, on the rue de Verrerie in the 4th. If you're looking for pan asian food and decor, plastic Buddhas and crappy loungey music, this place isn't for you. Here, the tables are formica, the room's so small you're invariably sitting in your neighour's lap, you have to ask for the entry code to the neigbouring building and a big iron key if you need to pee, but the Laotien foot is fresh, exceptionally well cooked and prepared, and for me one of the best deals in central Paris.

                                  1. re: vielleanglaise

                                    "the weird looking dessert with gelatinous fruits and coconut - that Parigi, despite her always admirable prose, got the name wrong of in a recent post,"

                                    I'll just shoot myself. :-(
                                    As for the bright color dessert, the patronne and I call it the tricolor, which I also would recommend, yeah. As with many of the - good - dishes on the menu, the menu calls it one way, and the waitstaff and regulars call it another way. The tricolore is not called tricolor on the menu.
                                    One problem with Lao Siam is its long menu with abstract names that tell you nothing about the dishes. Like the Poisson soleil levant. The Chinese translation is completely different, with no mention of the rising sun. If I remember correctly, it is deep fried monkeyfish. -- Btw, seems the uglier the fish, the tastier its meat. A survival technique?

                                    As for the salade de méduses, it is not bad but is too standard a Chinese dish. Other places, like Les Délices de Shandong, also make it admirably. We kids used to call it eating rubber band.

                                  2. re: Parigi

                                    heya...i've only been to Lao Siam once...it is pretty hyped: it's won various French restaurant guide awards every year and it's jam-packed w/ French people excitedly waiting for tables like it's the second coming ...i liked it okay, and didn't mean to dis it....but personally i thought Rouammit and the others were better, at least for Isaan dishes...but i'll happily return to Lao Siam at some point...maybe even this week!... :)

                                    What/where is Q-Tea?

                                    1. re: Simon

                                      I have dined at Laos Siam on several occassions but never experienced the religoius ferver you came across during your sole meal there.

                                      A good and reasonably price restaurant, It can get crowded with "French people", but that would be because we're in France.

                                      1. re: Simon

                                        Q-Tea, on 9 rue notre-dame de lorette. Makes home-style Taiwanese (chef's origin) and Hongkongese (wife's origin) dishes.

                                        1. re: Parigi

                                          Funny, had an apartment at 11 R ND de Lorette for four years, and did not know of this place. Needed your guidance then.

                                          1. re: Delucacheesemonger

                                            It just opened 2 months ago.
                                            But maybe you also need my guidance…
                                            Just kidding.
                                            Getout ! You were a home boy? (Laidback too, intermittently.) I need someone to be my taster at the Viet Namese place called Dung, at 15 Rue Notre Dame de Lorette. Call me unadventurous, I don't want to be the first at Dung.

                                      2. re: Parigi

                                        Hi Parigi.
                                        I seem to remember that Lao Siam and Lao Thai have the same owners. The top 5 you mention are more or less identical. Lao Thai is my favorite Isaan restaurant in Paris. Far beyond Lao Lane Xang which the French press likes better because the décor is more to their liking. The list of good dishes extends beyond the top-5 limit: rice vermicelli in soup with fish or pork, cuttlefish salad, laap neua, marinated beef entrecôte salad, deep-fried whole fish with sweet-sour sauce, liserons d'eau sautés, Thai broccoli with fermented fish, nem lao, wok-fried quail with garlic, salt and white pepper; homemade lemongrass sausage, and probably more which I haven't tried. The quality is quite consistent.

                                      3. re: Simon

                                        You have a distinct advantage being able to speak Thai which probably means you get food spiced correctly. We come from Sydney where Thai food is plentiful and good, with a reasonable selection of authentic isaan dishes, so gave up on the usual bland fare available in Paris quite quickly.

                                        Interestingly not a lot of Laotian food (but lots of really good Vietnamese) here, clearly France's colonial history comes into play with a strong Lao community in Paris, I wish we had persevered and tried Laotian places.

                                        1. re: PhilD

                                          I don't speak Thai. I spoke Mandarin with the patronne. Travelling in Thailand, I learned to say: "please not too spicy or I will die." One really has to insist on that, because often Thai friends tell me to try this or that, adding that it is not spicy. Tu parles !

                                          1. re: Parigi

                                            My reply was to Simon who speaks Thai. However, I think your comment that you don't like food too spicy may explain the difference in our experiences of Thai restaurants in Paris, I generally found the lack of spicing (for the French palette) really detracted from the cuisine, if you don't enjoy really spicy food this won't be an issue. I also found this with Parisian Vietnamese food, whilst Vietnamese is generally less spicy than Thai, I often found the Paris versions to be quite bland when compared to eating in Vietnam or here in Sydney.

                                            I find it interesting that Simon has found good Isaan food because that often packs a good spicy punch (I love a good Sai Qou) but it seems from his post you need to find the "special menu" not the one adapted for French tastes.

                                            1. re: PhilD

                                              All fair.
                                              I do wish I could eat spicy, as i say so in my profile. Some dishes are just no fun if made non-spicy. But I can't do spicy; it gives me an eczema crisis that takes days to subside.
                                              And it is true that restaurants in France tend to tone way down any spicy cuisine. The young daughter of a friend, upon eating some rather authentic curry for the first time, said: "since when is curry spicy?" She never knew it was supposed to be that way.

                                        2. re: Simon

                                          Hi. "Lao-Lane Xang" is actually a Lao restaurant as should be evident by its name. The name begins with "Lao" to let customers know that the restaurant serves Lao cuisine and the words "Lane Xang" is another spelling for the old Lao kingdom of Lan Xang.

                                          Though the information posted in this thread is interesting, I'm just curious to know why some people in here are referring to Lao-Lane Xang's cuisine as Issan cuisine? The Issan region adopted many of its dishes from Laos so don't you think it's rather silly to refer to a Lao restaurant as Issan?

                                          Since some people do not want "Issan" restaurants to be referred to as Lao restaurants, then why are some people in here referring to "Lao" restaurants as Issan? Especially when Lao cuisine is the parent cuisine, but due to political matters, that region of Thailand where Lao cuisine is served became relabeled as Issan cuisine.

                                      4. re: Simon

                                        I don't know if you have access to an auto because this place in Chapet in the Yvelines is easier to get to by car than train and taxi (it's 30-45 min from Paris depending on where you live); but it's run by a Japanese gentleman vegetable farmer Asafumi Yamashita and his chef wife Naomi who do a table d'hote of 6-10 courses at lunch and dinner weekends only, that's pretty darn Japanese although he's lived in France since '89. There are pix on my blog as well as several articles if you Google him/them.

                                        Le Kolo aka La table d’hôte de Naomi et Asafumi Yamashita
                                        Chemin des Trois Poiriers - 78130 Chapet (Yvelines)
                                        6-10 courses at lunch = 35 €; at dinner 50 €
                                        Chambre d’hôte, 150 € a night for two with dinner and breakfast

                                        1. re: John Talbott

                                          sounds yummy...i've no car though, but i'll try to get there one day :)

                                          1. re: Simon

                                            I plotted it by train and it works, which considering the horrible bouchons on the Autoroute, might be better for the nerves.

                                    2. My standby for sushi is Tsukizi, 2 Bis Rue des Ciseaux, 75006
                                      01 43 54 65 19

                                      The chefs and staff are Japanese, the sushi is traditional. Prices not astronomical. Tiny place, dominated by a long counter. Many Japanese eating here. Of course it doesn't compare with Tsukiji market, but it's the best I've found in Paris.

                                      5 Replies
                                      1. re: Cookingthebooks


                                        Thank you, Cookingthebooks. I went to Tsukizi today for lunch. I could quibble about how it's pricier than similar quality sushi in LA or NYC or how the rice is a bit overstacked, etc, but that'd be silly, because it's far and away the best option i've found in Paris and i'm happy.

                                        Simple, traditional, good quality sushi w/ Japanese chef...i had a light lunch of six pieces of nigiri, miso soup, and a half bottle of Muscadet...the tamago was especially good, and the toro, while not top-notch toro, was nonetheless very reasonably priced...

                                        Shall return soon for an omakase and test the limits...

                                        1. re: Simon

                                          I'm very glad you liked it. My favorite is the chirashi special. If you try the omakase, let us know!

                                          1. re: Cookingthebooks

                                            I used to go there, oh, a decade ago and always ordered the chirashi special. Sometimes some temaki. Glad to know it's thriving.

                                            1. re: Cookingthebooks

                                              i went on Saturday and did an improvised omakase (i.e. i told the waitress i wanted to order from the chef directly, which she was fine with)...it was good!...had aji and maguro sashimi to start...miso soup, and cucumber w/ miso paste...then several pieces of nigiri...they had mentaiko (spicy cod eggs) which is one of my fav things...hamachi was not good, but most everything else (from tamago to toro) made me happy...w/ a 1/2 bottle of Sancerre, dinner was 83 Euros...a lil steep but i left on a food high...nice service throughout too...

                                              1. re: Simon

                                                Sounds terrific -- a little pricy but a good selection. Thanks for the report!

                                        2. I was going to recommend guilo guilo, but saw that you already had that on your list of places to try. Did you ever get a chance to try it out yet? I've never been , but a bunch of Japanese friends raved about it.

                                          1 Reply
                                          1. re: kerosundae

                                            Funny, I liked it cept the price/quality ratio and found my local nearer to me in the 18th better.

                                          2. I am surprised nobody has mentioned Foujita. Good quality-price ratio and when they have good fish coming in, it can be extraordinary (look out for the o-toro).
                                            Two addresses: a tiny hole in the wall on rue Saint-Roch and a larger, two-level restaurant on rue du Marché-Saint-Honoré.

                                            1. Foujita is for sushi and sashimi. For other things (fried, steamed, noodles, bentos) here are my favorites:
                                              - Kintaro on rue Saint-Augustin (hard to get in at lunchtime - do try the shumai)
                                              - Naniwaya on rue Sainte-Anne. Better go for dinner because of the "small dishes". Great gyusuji (beef tendon with mustard).
                                              - Juji-ya on rue Sainte-Anne. Great cheap bentos. Tori karaage best in Paris, to the extent of my knowledge.
                                              - Kunitoraya on rue Sainte-Anne. Again, better in the evening. Owner makes his own udon. Great small dishes (try the white radish with poutargue and the tempura). No credit cards.
                                              - Asia-Thé on rue de la Montagne-Sainte-Geneviève (in the shade of the Saint-Etienne-du-Mont church) has been around for ages. It is run by a Japanese chef who fixes old watches in the front window when he is not cooking. Excellent produce, very personal French-Japanese cooking.
                                              - I also like Tsukizi a lot.

                                              26 Replies
                                              1. re: Ptipois

                                                Your recommendation (elsewhere) for L'Acajou was much appreciated - a GREAT meal - but I was very disappointed tonight by Tsukizi. I admit that I am spoiled (Masa in NYC and Matsuhisa in L.A. are my standards for great sushi and many other Japanese dishes.) However, on this particular night, in spite of the great service and friendly interaction with the chef and his staff, I was reminded of nothing more than the average Japanese food found in say, Milwaukee.

                                                The rice was a step up from the long grain un-vinegared rice served by many Chinese-owned Japanese restaurants, but each piece of sushi had about twice as much of it as it should have (I follow the one bite per piece rule) and none of the fish had any real flavor. The pieces were too large, and I always think that this means that I'm getting lower quality fish. I'd say that was correct tonight. The Hirame was on the wrong edge of freshness and everything else simply left a lot to be desired. I had a plate of sashimi and about 5 orders of sushi omikase. I then asked for Mentaiko sashimi which was exactly as it should have been. I had asked if they had o-toro, and he responded 'yes, we have toro' which made me wonder, but when he brought out a poor version of chu-toro, I decided that I had to end the meal before he served it to me. Ju-bum-des never came in so handy. But with all the rice (even scraping off a lot of it) I really was full. It's a shame because I think I would have liked a little salmon skin had I had room for it. They did not have any uni tonight, but perhaps that was for the best.

                                                I really wanted to like the place - I would love to find a nice, simple, non-fusion, traditional Japanese restaurant here in Paris, but if this is the best one, I'm 'plum' out of luck.

                                                1. re: Buzzy2

                                                  Try Foujita then. I think it is the most decent sushi and sashimi you're likely to find, and distinctly more cheerful than Isami. At least it is the best I know.
                                                  Not long ago there still was a good Japanese restaurant on rue du Sabot, it had real Japanese sushitori working there, but I think it is closed now.
                                                  I haven't been to Tsukizi for ages really. The quality may have dropped.

                                                  All in all the quality of Japanese restaurants in Paris is improving, but on the cheap side, not on the luxury side. And it is true that sushi is not great here.

                                                  Pay attention to the other small Japanese addresses I wrote up above, but none of them is remarkable for fish. They're good for fried stuff and tsukune and various snacks, but no fish.

                                                  Good news though, there is a real izakaya in Paris and perhaps even two (I am not counting Youlin which I found infuriating because of how hungry I felt when I left the place), at least the one on 45 rue de Richelieu (belonging to the developing Isse / Kuroda miniature "chain"), Isse Bistrot à Sakés, is interesting. Simple (but lovely) domburi at lunchtime, more elaborate tapas menu at dinnertime. 70 different sakes, about 15 umeshu and shochu, one of my favorite places.

                                                  No matter how many people tell you it's the hottest thing in town, don't go to Kunitoraya 2, "Pierre Gagnaire's favorite Japanese restaurant" etc., it's a joke. They make curry katsu-don with some Olivier Roellinger spice mix instead of a proper Japanese curry mix! The décor is gorgeous, the whole place is designed to attract rich trendy Parisians who wouldn't be caught dead in a greasy noodle bar.

                                                  Here is a list you might want to study:

                                                  Momonoki for fried breaded pork
                                                  Zen (rue de l'Echelle) for amazingly delicate, multi-style Japanese food. If they have the "fraisier" for dessert go for it.
                                                  Issé Bistrot à Sakés (already mentioned)
                                                  Kintaro (the best noodles)
                                                  Bizan (kaiseki, some fish in spite of what i wrote above. Untried by me.)
                                                  Kiyomizu (kaiseki)
                                                  Asuka (a tiny restaurant on Montmartre, run by a couple of painters, I hear the place is kind of crazy and the food is good)

                                                  And do not forget Hissa Takeuchi's "Maison Kaiseki" in the 15e - expensive but awesome food.

                                                  1. re: Ptipois

                                                    Thank you very much. I will let you know how my search goes.

                                                    Meanwhile, in case you are in NYC anytime soon, you might want to check out a very good izakaya, Sake Bar Hagi downstairs at 152 W 49th St betw 6th (Ave. of the Americas) and 7th, closest to 7th. Lots of nice skewers and other items to choose from - I had a great dish of raw octopus cut up in tiny pieces in a non-ponzu vinegar sauce that was SUPERB!

                                                    I had some very good black cod shirako very cheap at Sushi of Gari off of 8th Avenue last fall or winter, but I wouldn't expect it to be there all season.

                                                    Now I'm getting hungry again.

                                                    1. re: Buzzy2

                                                      Thanks. I'm not going to NYC anytime soon but I'll keep that in mind. In my memory NY has some of the most amazing sushi imaginable.

                                                      If you're ready to spend a few euros, I'll insist on Hissa Takeuchi and his Maison Kaiseki. A great expat Japanese chef with incredible creative sensitivity. He does know how to churn out good sushi too, even teaches sushi classes.

                                                      Toyo looks wonderful and I'm sure it does more than look so, but it is not Japanese food, it is nipponized French food. A very trendy trend here these days. The chef is Kenzo's former private cook.

                                                    2. re: Ptipois

                                                      Been to Bizan... everything was delicious... except the sushi. The rice was better than in most places but slightly to sticky, and the fish was just boring...

                                                      I will try Foujita, as I am still not sure really good sushi does exist in Paris... (but would love to find one)

                                                      Is Asuka on rue Marcadet ? If not, I often pass by a tiny sushi place rue Marcadet, which looks good, but have never tried it.

                                                      1. re: Rio Yeti

                                                        Foujita is rough and ready, but in my opinion it serves what might be the best raw fish in Paris. There are 2 addresses (see above). Do not fret over one of the sushitori looking Indian, he is a master.
                                                        They have (not right now) the best otoro I've ever seen.

                                                        Yes, Asuka is on rue Marcadet.

                                                        1. re: Ptipois

                                                          Thanks, don't mind rough and ready, so I'll try Foujita soon !

                                                          Asuka does look crazy, in fact it looks closed most of the time since the door is always closed with prison bars on it... but it also looks really "authentic", although they only list tuna and salmon on their menu (and a surprise amuse depending on the market). I'll give it a try also.

                                                          1. re: Rio Yeti

                                                            The prison bars are the railing of a former butcher store. Yes I heard the owners were actually a little crazy but that the place was really good. Not specialized in sushi/sashimi though but serving some.

                                                            1. re: Rio Yeti

                                                              4 years ago when I used to eat the all kinds of fish and hadn't yet given up on sushi in Paris, I went to Foujita on the recommendation of a Japanese friend and was thoroughly disappointed. They had almost none of the fish listed on their menu, out of the 8 or so I asked for, they only had salmon, tuna and mackerel; the rice was almost crumbly; and the grilled salmon and grilled eggplant were both drenched in their own weight in oil and sugar.
                                                              It could have been just a bad night/week/month/year but I'm glad I've found peace with not eating sushi in Europe.

                                                              1. re: kerosundae

                                                                Yep, i love Paris. But it's the worst (major) city in the western world for Japanese food.

                                                                1. re: kerosundae

                                                                  That was four years ago and visibly a bad night.

                                                                  I go to Foujita regularly and never noticed anything of the sort. Except yes, a few unavailable fish. They order little and it gets eaten fast... What is available though, and not on the menu, is on small white paper bands behind the counter. These should definitely be checked. It also helps to ask for the chef's recommendation.

                                                                  1. re: Ptipois

                                                                    As a Japanese resident on holiday in Paris I had no intention of eating Japanese food during my stay... then, during our long afternoons of pounding the the pavements, I got cold (cue craving for miso soup and green tea) and peckish (cue need for fish-based protein). Thankfully, the Japanese saleswoman (a Fukuoka native, and let me tell you Fukuoka people know a thing or two about good fish/food) at Celine came to the rescue by recommending 藤田 - Fujita (or 'Foujita' as it seems to be written in French). It was centrally located, reasonably priced and the sushi and sashimi was.... fine - but hey, i wasn't expecting tsukiji market quality fish in the middle of the tourist district in Paris! It was pleasant and served its purpose; I was warmed, refreshed and replete.
                                                                    By the way, I have seen Guilo-Guilo's name pop up on this thread, along with words like 'highly regarded' and 'over-priced'. I know Guilo-Guilo from its Japanese stores; one in Kyoto and one in Shibuya, Tokyo - both are cheap (35 euro for a full 'kaiseki' course, and I use that term ironically. They are aimed at out-of-town dinners in search of a 'punk' Japanese kaiseki experience; its gimmick is that all of the chefs have mohawks. The food is good for the price point, and I do admit that I take visitors there for a fun/ irreverent take on a traditional standard, but 'highly regarded' food this is not. The fact that the company has branches in Kyoto, Shibuya, Honolulu and Paris may give you an insight to the 'for tourists' nature of these restaurants.

                                                                    1. re: wekabeka

                                                                      Thank you so much for your informative, Japanese-in-Paris insight, especially the very valuable tips on Fukuoka and Guilo-Guilo. We live in the 9th and often take an after-dinner walk up in the Butte Montmartre. Often I pass by Guilo Guilo and wonder about this place whose clientele and popularity and vibes remind me so much of Yoom, where, as a Chinese living in Paris, I would not be dragged no way no how.
                                                                      I have always liked Foujita and found its standard most reliable. Now that I know it regularly runs out of fish, I trust its freshness even more.
                                                                      Domo arigato gozaimasu.

                                                                      1. re: wekabeka

                                                                        hi wekabeka...i agree w/ Parigi -- very nice to hear your perspective on things...thank you for the report...and i agree with you totally about Fukuoka and food: it's the city where i've spent the most time in Japan and i love it: of my top ten fav restaurants in the whole world, 2 or 3 are in Fukuoka...

                                                                        1. re: wekabeka

                                                                          I hear what you're saying and don't know about the Guilo Guilo in Japan, but I wouldn't qualify the french restaurant as "punk". There is a fun vibe seating at the counter, and it's definitely modern, but there is no "show", the cooks and chef are extremely precise and put up great delicate food (it's not like at Momofuku from what I've heard, or even Chateaubriand with it's grungy chefs...).
                                                                          It may not be regarded as "traditional Japanese" (whatever that means), but it is still the best food experience I've had from a Japanese chef in Paris. Everything was spot on and delightful, and I've tasted the best sake I've ever had there.
                                                                          I realize it is not a simple down to earth sushi place, yes you have to make a reservation one month in advance, yes the food is modern and probably westernized, but delicious nonetheless.

                                                                          1. re: Rio Yeti

                                                                            If your experience at Guilo-Guilo Paris was positive, then that is wonderful. As I stated in my post, I was giving an insight to my experiences of the franchise's Japan based restaurants. I too have had enjoyable experiences at Guilo-Guilo, and take it for what it is: accessible kaiseki-style food in an izakaya environment.
                                                                            In regards to your comment, 『"traditional Japanese" (whatever that means)』- I think you may have answered that query yourself: it is the opposite of "modern and probably westernized".

                                                                    2. re: Rio Yeti

                                                                      It really saddens me to say this, because I really wanted to love that place...
                                                                      Asuka is a hole in the wall, with around 12 seats although with only 6 people inside we already were all in each other's conversations. The Japanese owners are really charming and nice, and the paintings on the wall by the chef are pretty (some calligraphy and a few still lifes)and give a homey atmosphere to this closet of a restaurant.

                                                                      The appetizer was a little bowl of cooked tuna with herbs/vegetables and soy sauce all mixed together. It frankly wasn't bad but felt like something a student would do, some kind of mushy tuna salad...
                                                                      Then a regular salad with carrots and zucchini, with a sauce that I suspect used an apple vinegar because it was pretty fruity. Again, not bad but the portion was to big, it was out of balance: too much carrots and too much sauce.
                                                                      The miso soup with bits of zucchini inside was served piping hot. Good miso, better than in most places.
                                                                      And then the sushi. Salmon, Tuna, Cooked Macquerel, Shrimp, Dorade (sea bream ?) and Marinated Shitake Mushroom. As well as 6 small salmon maki.
                                                                      I never had real nigiri sushi in France, meaning with the wasabi inside the sushi, so I was optimistic when I saw that it was the case here. The rice was really nice, with a good bite, sticking well to each other but not to the fingers and with a subtle sweet taste. The fish however was really boring, the best sushi being the Shitake one ! I have to say that the fish didn't even feel better than in some of the many chinese-run sushi places around town... Where is all the good fish ?!

                                                                      I don't know the credentials of the Itamae, but I got the impression he's just a guy who likes to cook and opened the Japanese version of a Mom n' Pop joint, and sometimes that can work, but today it didn't.

                                                                2. re: Ptipois

                                                                  I happened to be in the neighborhood of Sake Bar Youlin tonight so I decided to check it out. Overall I liked it. I liked the personnel very much. Some of them are Japanese and all of them are trying very hard to make this work. They are suffering from some of the same problems that many Japanese restaurants in Paris seem to have. They don't have enough Japanese clientele to maintain a strictly authentic operation. In cities like New York, good Japanese restaurants can count on a solid base of customers that expect authentic Japanese food in a Japanese restaurant. Not too much to ask, is it? But in Paris it seems like many customers are not appreciative of this style of food, thus influencing the restaurants to adapt alternative approaches, such as lower quality but larger portions or 'fusion' (gosh, I DETEST that word) with French styles.

                                                                  Thankfully, Youlin hasn't taken a dive, but they are trying to find their footing. I'll try them again.

                                                                  This time I had very little to eat, partly because I was expecting lots of izakaya dishes but they seemed to have moved towards various appetizer and larger plate options. The Hiyayakko I had was wonderful. Just as it should be. I might have asked for some extra ponzu sauce, but only because it was that good. This isn't a major test of the chef, I know, but it was very good - better than anything I had at Tsukizi.

                                                                  I also had a broiled eggplant dish that was quite nice and a version of Unaju set up like a huge, piece of misshapen sushi. Again, not a true test of the kitchen but it was what I was in the mood for. They also had a lot of salmon dishes on the day's menu, tonkatsu, etc.

                                                                  I went for the food, not the sake, so I can't comment on that.

                                                                  It doesn't really qualify as an izakaya to me, not a single grilled skewer, for example, but at least some of the dishes are as good as what we expect in a real Japanese restaurant.

                                                                  1. re: Buzzy2

                                                                    true...not an izakaya nor traditional, but it's a charming place...owner Youlin is super-nice, and i like their shochu...hope they succeed...

                                                                    1. re: Simon

                                                                      They have an incredible unfiltered sake which is the clearest memory I have of the place. Indeed Youlin is nice, the personnel is lovely, but it's not really Japanese food - rather frenchified Japanese and not the brightest version of that genre I've found in Paris. And boy was I hungry as I came out of the place.

                                                                      I much prefer the rue de Richelieu Izakaya and, a few steps away from Youlin, Asia-Thé (in the shade of the Saint-Etienne-du-Mont church). Not an izakaya but really nice French-Japanese food. Better than Youlin's IMO.

                                                                      "They don't have enough Japanese clientele to maintain a strictly authentic operation."

                                                                      I don't think "authenticity" is what they're aiming at or that they're adapting their style of cooking to the scarcity of Japanese diners. First of all, if they wanted more Japanese customers, they'd have settled in the 1er or 2e arrondissements, not on the montagne Ste-Geneviève. I believe they really do the kind of fusion cooking that they have in mind, "their" sort of izakaya. After all many young French chefs using shirodashi or wakame are not suspected of serving "inauthentic" French food.

                                                                      1. re: Ptipois

                                                                        My comment on Japanese customers was intended to refer to the general problem in Paris for Japanese restaurants. The good restaurants I am familiar with, primarily in NYC and L.A., seem to have a base of customers that appreciate their authentic styles. Thus, there is no need to change. However, in Boston and Florida and many other places, possibly including Paris, there are customers that expect larger portions (double-size sushi) and dishes 'friendlier' to their palates. Without those that are happy with one bite sized sushi or that perceive a taste difference between quality fish and so-so fish, many of these restaurants modify their food for these gaijins. :)

                                                                        One of the top rated sushi bars in the Boston area is exactly like that. I can't stand to eat there. But it constantly gets great reviews - "awesome California roll" or "sushi so big I needed a knife and fork, wonderful."

                                                                        When I've gone there, the fish has been tasteless, the sushi oversized, the toro tartar ice cold, the miso cod overcooked to mush....yuck! And yet....

                                                                        In addition, most sushi bars in Boston and Florida are not owned by Japanese and they do not know how to make proper rice for sushi, nor do they care, because their customers don't know or care.

                                                                        So maybe, perhaps, Paris Japanese restaurants suffer some, not all, of the same problems.

                                                                        1. re: Ptipois

                                                                          Oh, btw, have you been to Kura in the 16th?

                                                                          1. re: Buzzy2

                                                                            No, I haven't, and probably won't for some time since I'm leaving Paris for three weeks Sunday, so please report if you go there.

                                                                            There seems to be a rather substantial Japanese population in Paris now, and it looks quite content with some of the simple, homey food they find in the rue Sainte-Anne / rue Saint-Augustin neighborhood - places like Kintaro, Naniwaya, Kunitoraya (the old noodle bar, not the chic bleached bobo trap), Zen on rue de l'Echelle, etc. I see a lot of them there. I don't think all Paris Japanese restaurants suffer from the problems you described, although the city does also have its fair share of sushi misery all over the place (all the same: the sign is in bamboo- or brushstroke-shaped characters, and it reads like Yamamoto or Suzuki or Fujiyama or — pure genius — Takayalé, French speakers will appreciate.)

                                                                            1. re: Buzzy2

                                                                              Just been to Kura for dinner last week www.kuraparis.com. I can confirm that all the staff is indeed Japanese, smiling and professional which makes a nice change in Paris. Took the 50 Euros menu and that was plenty and varied, with the choice of 3 or 4 main courses. There is a more sofisticated menu at 85 Euros... All courses very fresh and perfect for me, but I admit my expertise is limited when it comes to high japanese cuisine but it all tasted genuine to me. Only one warning, they are not flexible, it is the menu or nothing. We had my 5 years old grand daughter with us and they refused to serve her just a miso soup. There was enough between our 3 menus to feed her happily, and they were kind enough to bring a plate for her so that she could share a bit of everything. All in all, a nice evening, I will return (without grand-daughter) and take the big menu next time

                                                                      2. re: Ptipois

                                                                        Zen was ok. They try to stay authentic which is nice but overly priced for Japanese staple foods. 20euro for a bowl if shoyu ramen? My 1 coin places in Tokyo tasted heartier. And even NYC wouldn't dare charge such a price. But what can we do when we are homesick for Japanese???? My wife wants to go there more often.
                                                                        Found kintaro when we first got here and the udon is great. But was disappointed that they give you one shrimp with tempura udon????
                                                                        Recently we found Sanukiya. And much prefer that as you can see by the lineups always outside. The noodles are better and they give you more for your money.

                                                                        1. re: dingaling

                                                                          Yes Sanukiya is great and is probably the only place that "really" reminded me of Japan, in Paris.

                                                                          Of course, in Tokyo, Sanukiya would just be "one other place", but here in Paris it hits the spot pretty darn well !

                                                                  2. A very good review from François Simon about Toyo which might interest you:


                                                                    6 Replies
                                                                    1. re: monchique

                                                                      I don't think Paris has anything on the level of Urasawa in LA, but sticking to the basics like tuna and salmon, the fish quality is not bad. The rice on the other hand tends to vary in quality. Of most continental EU cities, Paris is still the place to go if you want a sushi fix.

                                                                      1. re: david t.

                                                                        Do you have any suggestions? Tsukizi was very dissapointing.

                                                                        BTW, have you been to Matsuhisa in LA? or Masa in NYC? (the original Urasawa when it was Masa's)

                                                                        1. re: Buzzy2

                                                                          hi Buzzy2...sorry to hear you had a poor meal at Tsukuzi...i enjoyed it last summer but that was really only in comparison to all the other awful places i tried in Paris...even at best it's nothing more than a decent authentic sushi place, not a destination restaurant...(and Isami was far and away the worst sushi experience i had in Paris, made even more galling not just because of the high cost, but also because it was about 100 metres from my apartment, so i would have loved to have had a regular nearby place)...

                                                                          re: Matsuhisa in LA -- been several times...i don't care for it...i think it's medicore sushi, but decent for cooked food...

                                                                          re: Masa, i've been to it's earlier incarnation as Ginza Sushi-Ko in BH...was a lovely meal...glad someone else was paying though...

                                                                          in NYC, my favs are Ushi Wakamaru, Kanoyama, and 15 East...

                                                                          1. re: Simon

                                                                            After 5 days in Paris eating nothing but brasserie or modern french, I was dying to have a decent donburi or chirashi with some miso soup last night. It really is bad here.

                                                                            1. re: Ricky

                                                                              Kintaro, rue Saint-Augustin. Long waiting line but delicious. You can get that decent donburi. I'm not sure they have chirashi but you can try the one at Foujita.

                                                                              1. re: Ptipois

                                                                                I had the chirashi at Foujita this week, and sorry to report that it's not very good. The fish's fresh but the rice was too mushy and vinegary.
                                                                                Haven't tried it personally, but my friends like Comme de Poissons near Passy.