Friday, 20 January 2012

Walaku: Authentic Bento Restaurant; Kissaten (tea salon)

An authentic Japanese tea salon in a quiet Parisian street

I learned about Walaku from a friend and then saw a little article about it in the free magazine that we can get in the metro. It is the lunch restaurant of the 1 star Japanese Teppanyaki palace, Aida, which I must try soon. Walaku was the perfect place to go with my friend, Noriko.

We spent a lovely 90 minutes in the heart of Japan. This is an authentic fancy lunch place with wonderful service and excellent food. To start was a savoury chestnut ball sitting in a delicate vegetable broth. After that came a lovely two-tiered bento box with lobster, sea bass, sashimi of flounder clothed with silky sea urchin roe, beautifully prepared vegetables and egg. The second tier was comprised of delicious roast beef and a wonderful fresh salad.

Walaku is a tea salon for most of the day, and the teppanyaki grill is used so that the chef can create the different desserts in front of you. The specialty is dorayaki which is usually a "hamburger" of delicate cake layers filled with red bean paste. However, theirs has the delicious edition of apple pieces and marscapone cream. It reminded me of a wonderful home-made dorayaki that I had in Kurokawa Onsen in Fukuoka, Japan. In a few tastes, I was transported back there and said to myself that I must return soon. After the dorayaki came a lovely fruit gelee surrounding a bit of white bean paste. A perfect ending to an excellent lunch.

Walaku is open from Wednesday through Sunday. For the bento lunch, it is necessary to reserve but for the salon de the, no reservations are necessary.

Tuesday, 17 January 2012

Sot L'y Laisse

A Japanese chef who worked with Paul Bocuse in Tokyo moves to Paris and opens his own little jewel of a restaurant he calls Sot L'y Laisse.

Sot L'y Laisse is a tender cut of chicken that the stupid throw out. This is what the phrase literally means and what the chef named his restaurant. The little bit of tender chicken is hidden in the wing. I remember the wife of a 3-star French chef explaining this to me as I asked her what it meant when I saw it on their menu.

Three months ago, Eiji Doihara (who worked at Paul Bocuse in Tokyo) opened his own restaurant on a quiet street in the 11th arrondissement. There was a buzz about it right away.

I went there for dinner with my friend, Eric, and we were able to sample a number of excellent dishes on the menu. Of course, I ordered the sot l'y laisse which were prepared in a cream sauce with wild mushrooms. Eric when for the ventreche (stomach) of albacore tuna, cooked rare and served with pesto.

I saw that there was Cote de veau de lait on the menu and I asked Eric if he would order that with me. Alas, he is not a big meat eater. I was very happy when the server told me that they could prepare the dish for one. It was fabulous: a thick chop of milk-fed veal served with gratin dauphinois, a potato dish slowly baked with cream until the potatoes are tender and the top is golden brown. This was a lovely dish. Eric had a lovely cabillaud dish with vegetables flavored with orange. Also on the menu was duck breast, a turbot dish and a tempting crépinette de pied de porc au foie gras et lentilles.

With our meal we were able to order glasses of wine and I chose two Burgundies: a white Macon for the first course and a red from the South of France for the veal. We felt sated after we ate the two courses, but decided to share a dessert as so many of them were appealing to us. We opted for a light compote de poires (actually a gelée of pears) with a coffee mousse. It sounds odd but it was very delicious.

The restaurant serves a reasonable three course lunch priced at 26 euros, and the menu changes with the season.

Best Pizza in Paris

A wonderful pizzeria in St Germain des Pres

Pizza Chic in the classy neighborhood of St. Germain des Près, is a classy pizzeria--not a pizza joint. It is open 7 days a week and the pizzas are terrific. The decor is lovely with jet black tables and pristine white tile walls. The pizzaoli and oven are on view and I chose a table right in front of the oven so I could watch the action.

The menu is a basic pizza menu but the pizzas are far from that. I had the sumptuous pizza prosciutto: mozzarella, cherry tomatoes that are cooked and then covered with arugala and draped with a myriad of thin slices of prosciutto. Worth its weight in gold. Prices are steep for pizza (mine was 22 euros). There are classic Italian desserts and excellent wines and coffees. I can't wait to go back.