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Jul 6, 2014 11:10 PM

Jin Saint-Honoré

So there was a heated debate about this restaurant recently. To make up my mind, I bit the bullet and went, 10 days ago, as I happened to be in Paris, and realized we would not be able to go to Japan this year... it was some sort of consolation prize let's say.

And I must admit I'm very happy I went. I had not eaten sushi in Paris for four years, so I don't know how the scene has evolved, but Jin was clearly ahead of everything I had tasted in town before.
Quality of the fish was overall excellent, nothing to be ashamed of even when compared to what's available in Tokyo, and with possibly different fish species/varieties (Brittany lobster, red mullet some fantastic oysters I forgot to ask the origin of come to mind). This made for an excellent first part of the meal, with 8-10 expertly prepared seafood appetizers.

Then came a small dozen nigiri. Contrarily to what I had read, there is a progression. Of course it's not as good as what you can find in the most famous sushi places in Tokyo for example, but it was not completely thoughtless.
What I found interesting is that they used a different rice for white fish, served at the beginning, and for the rest of the nigiri when they switched to a rice prepared with red vinegar (which I generally prefer). However, in both case, it was a bit too salty for my taste. Also, I think there was a touch too much wasabi in some pieces.

All in all, this part of the meal was not as enjoyable as the appetizers in my opinion. It was good, but I felt it could have been even better. It's hard to pinpoint how exactly, but with a slightly fine-tuned progression, maybe a slight adjustment to the rice (that may be a matter of taste, though), it would already be exceptional. Then there is the skill of the chef. I can't say I'm an expert but I indeed feel there was something lacking compared to - once again - what one can find at the same price range in Tokyo.

In short I'd say that whether you consider it worthy of your time and money depends on your situation: if I was still living in Paris (and rich... the place is indeed expensive) I'd be really happy that I have the option to go there. As a tourist with limited time, unless you're curious about tasting a slightly different approach to sushi, it's obviously a different story. By the way, the five other customers were Japanese, whatever that means.

Comparisons with Japan or the US must be forgotten. Jin is in Paris and must be approached with this fact in mind. This is not a plane ticket to Tokyo, but probably one of the next best thing there is.

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  1. "This is not a plane ticket to Tokyo, but probably one of the next best thing there is."

    Thanks for your report!

    My point all along (this is not a reaction to your post) was that when one says "Tokyo", one does not say it all. There is bad sushi in Tokyo (as in Paris). There is mediocre, pre-packaged sushi in the cold products sections, perhaps not at sushi-shop level, but pretty bad indeed. Their sell-by date is counted in hours, not in days, but there are many levels of quality from top to bottom. Same here.
    As I wrote, an able and clever Japanese chef - and that is what chef Taku is - does not become a bad one once he arrives in France. Fish and seafood quality can be fantastic here once you touch, or create, the right networks. A super-stellar sushi meal in Tokyo (and I've had that) can also be boring and missing a few hits. Through the magic and hazards of earthly life, sometimes, below-the-top may be more enjoyable than absolute-top.

    All reasons - among others - why I think that globally bashing the sushi experience in France with insufficient in-depth study of the subject is a rather stubborn attitude. After all that's what active posters on CH are here for: searching for the unobvious and avoiding the "poncifs".

    1 Reply
    1. re: Ptipois

      "Through the magic and hazards of earthly life, sometimes, below-the-top may be more enjoyable than absolute-top." -- That's a beautiful and succinct observation that applies broadly and quite beyond the present context. -- Jake

    2. Thanks for going again so recently, as I haven't been in about a month (oh, business).

      To answer the one question that stands out: expense accounts and "comfort" food.

      The second (and, within the context of the discussion to which you're responding): no one was saying that Jin wasn't worthwhile for someone living in Paris. Recommending it to someone who lives in Japan and eats sushi like it was their life's work? Eh...

      The third: what progression did you find? I've been to Jin several times and the progressions were always weak, mismatched, or incomprehensible. Perhaps the shari/wasabi situation has a bit to do with the same reason why the progression is often wonky and at times blows out your palate before something more subtle.

      The fourth: yes, his shari is not great (I haven't found anywhere in France, yet, with good shari). I also preferred the non-nigiri dishes to the nigiri, but I feel that this is a testament to Jin's standing as a "sushiya."

      Again, I don't agree with recommending Jin to someone who frequently posts about sushi on the Japan board and eats it fairly often. That, and, well, he already knows about the sushi situation in Paris.