I wasn’t sure when I first entered the restaurant, I looked at my Japanese friend, who by the way is a good fork, and a quick one at that, and said I am not sure. The reason is, when I enter a restaurant where Japanese are working, I expect the team to well dressed and well groomed and this time not. The chef’s attire is not appropriate and his hair (disheveled bangs) is just too long to work without a hat or hair net.
The restaurant is still very young and so is the chef, an eager gentlemen named Ryuji Teshima, who whas previously cooked at Passage 53, Alain Senderens and In de Wulf in Belgium. He now works with his wife, who seems pleasant and attentive.
The restaurant is sort of chic and not, it has a nice washed stone wall and some over-sized lights (architects choice I presume) that seem out-of-place and distract the eye. More importantly the chef, works in an open kitchen and some noise distracts the guests but overall they are quiet.
The one thing that caught my eye was the organization in the kitchen, it seemed as if the brigade was out of sync with the chef, and the separation between the dining space and the kitchen is a little odd. All of a sudden kitchen staff are in the dinning room, almost wondering around. I understand this concept is casual but the formality, or lack of, seemed a bit strange.
I particularly liked the hibachi grill they say they use, but again I am not so sure you can cook meat so evenly on sumi-bincho tan, and when we arrived all the meat was resting in the kitchen. They have some charcoal on display to give a good sense of values to their clients, sumi-bincho tan an excellent Japanese product: http://mesubim.com/2014/04/05/kiku-binchotansado/
Sumi charcoal is a charcoal briquette that is more economical than Aramaru and White binchotan. It is also chemical free, almost smoke free, and burns three times hotter than American charcoal and at consistent and high heat.
The beef is (they say) is cooked over the sumi-bincho tan but I found that hard to believe given the meat’s coloration and evenness in cooking. I have never seen meat cooked to such perfection and evenness throughout the meat when cooked over charcoal, and I hesitate to say I don’t believe it. I am thinking about this ever since I tasted his meat, and trying to figure out whether or not the resting the meat for a long time would be sufficient.
It is true that the meat’s core continues to cook (temperature inverts) after the meat is taken off the grill, and this meat has skewer holes. These holes signify that it was skewered and likely cooked over charcoal. I guess it’s possible but …..I am not sure as it depends on the thickness of the meat, and this meat was not so thick. You do see the exterior has 2/3 millimeters of grey which means that it was raised up to high heat of 500°C degrees.
The meat was excellent, however it was the quite chewy, and ranks as one of the chewiest pieces of beef I had ever tasted. The chef runs out of the kitchen and scatters across the room from table to table with a small sauce pot, and drizzles it over your meat à la minute.
The cuisine, I am not sure because when we were at the restaurant I felt differently about the cuisine and after thinking about it, looking at the photos, I realized that this young chef deserves a chance. Pages has a few hiccups but the cuisine is moving in the right direction and he has good staff that can think, such as Ms.Lumi Hachiya, a young trilingual staff member who was very helpful.
The one thing I appreciated about this chef were his sincere effort to listen, and after diner we discussed various aspects of his operation, and he was receptive to taking some direct criticism. I try to remain positive and understand what are the challenges.
The restaurant is packed at €80 per cover which is extremely good value and you leave feeling full, in fact too much food I thought. The cuisine looks good but some of the dishes are not what they should be, a little heavy-handed, though in general he has a good touch and deserves success.
The general consensus is this chef needs time but I wonder how much. I just wondered how much of this menu are his own ideas or adaptations, because after visiting several Japanese chefs this trip, I noticed some very close similarities in their work and food designs – almost identical, the edible lace made from squid’s ink garnished with a croquette.
The wine list is very good and sommelier is very cool and is swift watching over tables. Perhaps understaffed, they put out a big effort for such a small team. The deserts were very good and the pastry chef has a good grip on her trade. I would try it again on my next trip to Paris but please no more popcorn Kromeskis croquettes.
Our menu dégustation and photographs below and the photos are in no particular order.
-Potatoes from Noirmoutier, crushed with Parmesan and onions Beetroot Royale Lamb Dauphine
-Crispy Bread with Foie Gras mousse, Curry Chantilly
-Suckling Veal Tartare with Botargo, Anchovy mousse
-Mushrooms: Porcini Velouté and Pink mushroom duxelle in a Brioche
-Celeriac slow-cooked in Bread, Saint Nectaire cheese sauce and Saint Jacques Scallops
-Monkfish, Popcorn Kromeski and Corn cream, Sabayon Sauce with smoked Chorizo
-Chicken from Les Landes, yolk poached in broth; deep-fried leek, White Truffles from Alba
-BeefnSimmental and Normand
-Sorrel Sorbet Fromage Blanc and Pear William Chestnut cream Saint Honoré; Walnut frozen Nougat
-Chocolate Tartelette, Lime / Verbena Macaron
4, rue Auguste Vacquerie 75016
T. +33 1 47 20 74 94