Foie gras terrine and eel teriyaki with sansho spices, done up to look like an exquisite cake. Photo © Darren Palmer
When you enter this small restaurant, the first indication that it’s Japanese comes from the unmistakable accent of the young woman who greets you. Then you see the star of the show, the teppanyaki grill, with a few bar stools for lucky diners around it. Two chefs are hard at work. One of them, Naoto Masumoto, worked for years at the Ben Kay restaurant in the Hotel Nikko before starting up this little place.
The decor – decidedly modern and streamlined, in tones of black and white and gray – doesn’t convey much in the way of character but is quite pleasant. A word of warning: you might be taking home some of the smell of the cooking food on your clothes.
The menu offers two fixed-price menus: starter, main course and dessert for €40, or starter, fish, meat, cheese and dessert for €57. I took the first option, which was quite filling enough.
Before the serious food arrives, two sets of amuses bouches are set in front of you, including a moist, crispy chicken skewer; a less-interesting fish-shaped “cake”; and two lovely tempuras of pumpkin and cream cheese.
My first dish, terrine de foie gras, anguille teriyaki aux épices sansho (foie gras terrine, eel teriyaki and sansho spices), looked like an exquisite opéra cake with its shiny glaze and touch of gold leaf. The unusual combination of foie gras and eel was a winning one. The salad served alongside was too salty and didn’t go well with the dish, so I left it on the plate.
The second course, cochon laqué aux sésames, purée de céleri et champignons (“laquered” pork with sesame, celeriac purée and mushrooms), was also beautiful to look at: a rectangular slab of glazed meat scattered with sesame seeds and a drop-shaped garnish of tasty celeriac purée. One bite of the caramelized, slow-cooked pork made me sigh with bliss, and I didn’t stop sighing until I was done.
I won the lottery at dessert time with my yuzu cheesecake and madeleine. Refreshing, light and crispy, it was a great way to end a delicious meal. The desserts chosen by my dining companions, green tea panna cotta and poached pear, were fairly bland.
While we were eating, the chefs never stopped: dexterously flipping vegetables around, seasoning dishes with gusto and flambéing
Chef Naoto Masumoto in front of his teppanyaki grill. Photo © Darren Palmer
ingredients, with the flames leaping up to the ceiling. Even without front-row seats, this display of culinary artistry was impressive, but I would really recommend sitting round the teppanyaki grill.
The wine selection was not large but offered varied choices, with organic wines marked out. We chose the 2006 Château des Demoiselles, Côte de Castillon at €25. The first bottle was corked, which deeply troubled our waitress, who sent one of the chefs to open the second bottle for us. Fortunately there was no problem with it, or I think the embarrassment would have been hard to bear on both sides.
It’s worth straying from the center of the city to experience this original, refined little restaurant.
Le Concert de Cuisine: 14 rue Nelaton, 75015 Paris. Tel.: 01 40 58 10 15. Métro: Bir Hakeim. Vélib stations: Square Bela Bartok, quai de Grenelle or Dupleix, 54 bd de Grenelle. Fixed-price menus: €40 (starter, main course, dessert) and €57 (starter, fish, meat, cheese, dessert).
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