We all know that Paris is one of the food capitals of the world. The Parisians have mastered almost every genre of cuisine—almost, that is. When it comes to sushi, the French are lagging behind. And if you’re a fanatic for raw fish, as I am, after being in Paris for a while you’ll start to crave that fresh Japanese taste. Now, there are definitely sushi restaurants in Paris; it’s just that many of them are vile, serving chunks of gluey rice and fish that tastes like it’s been frozen for weeks.
In case you are wondering how to avoid a bad sushi restaurant, there are luckily a few telltale signs that the food will be poor quality: (1) the name of the restaurant sounds like it came out of the mouth of a toddler; some examples include Japanese Restaurant, Sushi Japonais and Eat Sushi; (2) there are photos of the food garishly plastered on the exterior windows; (3) someone speaking broken English insistently tries to usher you inside. But don’t fret; there are restaurants that create delightful sushi experiences. Recently, I was lucky enough to dine at three of them.
First up is Rice and Fish, brought to you by the same American chef who started Rice and Beans. Located in the 2nd Arrondissement, Rice and Fish is a cozy sushi bar that’s perfect for a quick lunch. The menu has a nice assortment of appetizers, salads, sushi, rolls and options for those who haven’t quite tuned into the raw fish trend. All in all the menu here will please those who are used to a more American-style sushi experience. But don’t let the A word fool you into thinking that this is a restaurant to be skipped.
I ordered the sushi chirashi, rice topped with an assortment of sliced sushi. The fish tasted incredibly fresh, and it was perfectly cut. In addition, both of the rolls we had—shrimp tempura and spicy tuna tartare—were delicious. We also had the barbecued boeuf bol, just to try something different, which consisted of a mix of tangy flank steak, tempura and vegetables, all over rice. It was slightly oversauced for my taste, but definitely worth trying. Rice and Fish is perfect for those used to a more simple, Americanized sushi experience, but it was nonetheless delicious.
Slightly more inventive is Takara, located in the 1st Arrondissement. The look is very classic Japanese, sleek and simple. The menu is larger and a bit more interesting than Rice and Fish, good for the more experienced sushigoer, but it still offers fishless alternatives.
All the appetizers were tasty, but the standout was definitely the eggplant, cooked and topped with an addictive sweet sauce, not one to miss. The rolls and sushi that followed were equally impressive, fresh and properly done. At Takara you can tell that the staff, the chef and the food are Japanese, creating a nice atmosphere and a sense of authenticity.
If you’re looking for the hardcore Japanese experience, however, head over to Tsukizi in the 6th Arrondissement. Not for the sushi novice, Tsukizi sticks to strictly raw fish instead of wasting time with frilly alternatives for the faint of heart. The menu boasts several options and assortments of sushi, sashimi and rolls.
We started off with a salade de fruits de mer (seafood salad). A dish I would highly recommend, this appetizer was a scrumptious mix of raw fishy goodness, seaweed and cucumbers. I wouldn’t be surprised if someone had told me that my starter had leaped from the sea and into my bowl just moments ago. Next, I had an assortment of sushi and sashimi, all impeccably fresh and delicate.
If possible, try to get a seat at the sushi bar to watch the chefs at work and to have your food presented to you just seconds after it’s been prepared, true to Japanese form. If you are as obsessed with sushi as I am, definitely check out Tsukizi.
Rice and Fish
22, rue Greneta, in the 2nd Arrondissement. 01 73 70 46 09.
2, rue des Ciseaux, in the 6th Arrondissement. 01 43 54 65 19.
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