Tempura & Tapas

Yesterday, I had convincingly authentic Japanese food for the first time in Paris and felt it deserved a mention here.

Issé restaurant (“tempuras & tapas”) has a soberly stylish decoration and seemingly caters to a large japanese-speaking clientele, both reassuring points when compared to the flurry of Chinese-speaking sushi chefs and horrifyingly cheesy pseudo-oriental kanji signs, customary of most other places that claim to offer Japanese cuisine in this city.

The menu there is classic, yet not stereotypical, which means a lot of small dishes, no ramen, and only a few makis on offer. Somewhere between a typical Tokyo restaurant and a high-end izakaya (lots of the same food, but less greasy): we had loads of tempuras (shiso, seafood, a bunch of other veggies… even mozzarella…), seaweed salad, agedashi tofu, and a couple other dishes. All great and tasty (ok: I reckon my agedashi tofu is better, but I may be biased) and infinitely more reminiscent of the whole Tokyo experience than many a j-food joints on rue Saint Anne.

Prices were about average to high, but very reasonable for the quality of food (around 20-30 euros/person for dinner and a drink).

And for those who ever lived in Japan: sit there, sipping an iced ohlong-cha with schochu and nibbling on edamame, and I swear you won’t be able to shake the natsukashiness away.

5 comments

  1. Where do the “tapas” come into play during the dinner? Is there an actual Spanish tapas menu available? Or is tapas describing the “lot of small dishes” that you had in the evening?

    There used to be a restaurant in SF that, right before we left, commited food suicide by changing their entire menu in a desperate attempt at making a profit. They made all the dishes they served much smaller, charged only US$5 less than they did before, and called them tapas. It went out of business in no time.

    As to Chinese-speaking sushi chefs, I have encountered those a lot in the US (SF, LA, NYC.) They were, for the most part, a mediocre bunch. You will probably be shocked at this one joint I entered and quickly stepped out of which only had Mexican sushi “chefs” – no Asian person in sight!

  2. Felix: I think the “tapas” part was only an easy way to convey to Parisian crowd the traditional “small bits that you share” aspect of Japanese food. I didn’t really notice much typical Spanish cuisine in there. But then again, tempuras and seafood could easily be mistaken between the two.

    Jeremy: First of all, PLEASE DO NOT SHOUT AND RELEASE YOUR CAPS LOCK KEY.
    Second, I think I know a tiny bit about Japanese cuisine, thank you.
    (and last of all, I just removed your spammy URL, but that’s only because I’m too lazy to edit my own comment after flagging your entire comment as spam).

  3. Thanks for the review Dave, I’ll be sure to check it out, but have you any advise for someone seeking authentic San Francisco-style (whatever that means) sushi.

    Sushi in Paris all seems to be the same and I just spent 3 weeks in the USA eating mind-blowing sushi !

  4. Paul:

    Hmn, not sure what you mean by “authentic” “San-Francisco-style” sushis… I don’t suppose you mean california rolls, do you? Otherwise, I couldn’t really find a single half-convincing *Japanese* sushi place in Paris, let alone a San-Francisco-style one… On the other hand, I’m sure if you put in the big bucks, these aren’t that hard to find (I’d put my money on the Nikko’s restaurant, to start with)… But honestly, I am not even that big of a sushi fan myself. At least not to the extent of paying a triple-digit bill for it. I probably ate a grand total of 5 times in a real sushi restaurant, in all my years in Japan. Give me a nice tasty ramen any time ! 🙂

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