Saturday, 7 November 2009

Newest Japanese restaurants

Three new Japanese restaurants

On rue St. Anne, an authentic "combi" (like a 7-11 in America) opened in place of a travel agency. It is called Kmart and is a combi (convenience supermarket) with a canteen next door. For the inexpensive price of 7 euros, you can get three types of delicious bibim bap (rice with vegetables and seaweed or more vegetables or beef), bento with either salmon or grilled tuna, sushi combos. The room is bright and clean and it is a lot of fun to eat there. There are Korean and Japanese specialties to buy in the "combi" section of the store.

Across the street is Lai Lai Ken. I was just introduced to this place by a Japanese friend who swears by their ramen and she is right. The noodles are al dente and the various broths are very delicious. For example, the shrimp ramen has 5-6 succulent shrimp along with Chinese cabbage. Lai Lai Ken also serves other Japanese canteen specialities such as yakisoba and (my favorite) ebi yaki soba, cha han with lots of vegetables and shrimp, and a kani cha han which features crab flakes. After 6pm, there are other more inventive dishes such as sautéed asparagus and mushrooms, agedashi dofu, and a variety of other Japanese specialities. Lai Lai Ken is a large restaurant and there is rarely a line so you can count on going there and being served right away.

Just four months old, Kiku (which means to listen or hear) at 56 rue Richer is a winner. It is already popular and as it only seats 25, reservations are necessary. At lunch, there are a variety of interesting donburi (fish or meats on rice) with vegetables. The menu states that they do not use tuna as it is endangered, and in its place, I was happy to find yellowtail (hamachi) which is rare on French Japanese restaurant menus. With the donburi come an interesting salad with sesame oil, and a good miso soup. Kiku also serves hardy one-dish meals which come on a small tray with three tsukedashi (amuse-bouches) such as salmon sushi, pumpkin mousse and a small salad. With the little appetizers come either a roast tofu dish on a bed of various winter vegetables, sukiyaki for one in a small oven dish with lots of vegetables, and an interesting chicken dish with a miso-sesame sauce. I want to try that the next time. At dinner, there is a menu dégustation for 35 euros. For that price you get to choose three different dishes out of 12, and the usual Japanese staples are featured. However, they are prepared in creative and delicious ways.