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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

              http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/7017...

              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.