One hot spring day after doing many errands and answering emails, I suddenly felt a rumble in my tum. I looked at my watch and sure enough, it was nearly lunch time. I went through mentally all the options I could have for lunch and decided on Japanese – sushi in particular, it being a hot day and all.
Now, my friend Debbie K has been waxing lyrical about a little Japanese eatery by the name of Comme Des Poissons. When I first heard its name, I thought to myself, “What a French name for a Japanese restaurant!” Well, we are in Paris, France, so what’s wrong with that? you ask. I guess nothing, I was kinda expecting more of an authentic Japanese name, that’s all, like Sakura or something close to that.
So, I hopped on the bus 22 which will take me directly to the restaurant, only to be turned away. Kawan kawan, imagine the disappointment. I was terribly hungry by this point, so I told the lovely waitress that I didn’t mind waiting for my turn. I was on my own, so how hard can it be to sit one? Oh, trés dure, my friends, for this Japanese eatery is really a sushi bar that sits a maximum of 10 customers, all very intimately at the bar. There were already 4 eating at the counter and 6 spots were reserved. The waitress couldn’t guarantee me that the customers who were still eating would finish in time to sit me, so she politely recommended that I should emporter some food. I didn’t want to da pau, take away, as I wanted a sit down meal….so I could take pictures and muse over my lunch of sashimi, sushi rolls and cups of ocha.
I had to walk away with my tail between my legs, the wounded hungry puppy. I had been too smug to make a reservation, thinking that if I turned up at the restaurant at 12 sharp, I would surely get a place. Well, lesson learnt. This time I booked for 2 because I had persuaded my kawan and neighbour to lunch with me.
The menu is not greatly extensive but that is a sign of a good restaurant, in my books because the chef then concentrates on the dishes that he is good at. I ordered a platter of mixed sashimi to share. This came with a complimentary miso soup so good that I shudder just thinking about it and a side dish of tuna salad:
The tuna sauce was formidable. It must be a secret recipe because I’ve never had this type of sauce before in a Japanese resto. Actually this tuna sauce reminds me of a dish that the MIL makes – slivers of vitello (veal) surrounded by a tuna sauce. La Famiglia calls this dish vitello tonnato which incidentally is a typical dish from the Piedmont area. The girls love it and it is usually eaten cold. The Italian likes it garnished with capers and I just like it, always grateful to eat anything the MIL has prepared.
The fish was very very fresh and the tuna was one of the best I’ve had. The colour of the fish was just as it should be, light brown with a pink hue, not dark brown, its texture is succulent and should almost melt in your mouth, not rubbery and bland, leaving a metallic aftertaste, like many others I’ve seen and tasted at certain pseudo Japanese eateries in Paris. These, unfortunately are never run by Japanese but the Chinese who are cashing in on the sushi eating trend amongst les parisiens.
Here, my platter of sashimi:
The dish standing next to the fish is the Japanese omelette that CB ordered. It was, suffice to say, delicious. The plating is simple and minimalist, like all Japanese dishes but still aesthetically pleasing. I loved the Coquilles de St Jacque which you see here by the salmon, especially the roe which has a slight crunch on chewing. The white fish were also equally tasty and succulent. Notice that sashimi is served with wasabi to be mixed in soya sauce and no ginger and is definitely not eaten with teriyaki sauce or sauce de soja sucrée. It is only here in Paris that I discovered this very novel and strange way of eating sushi and sashimi. In pseudo Japanese restaurants, no names mentioned here, the sushi platters come with a choice of normal soya sauce and sweet soya sauce which is effectively teriyaki. French teenagers use the latter as pouring sauce over their bol de riz avec saumon and as dipping sauce for their california rolls. Go figure!
As an additional dish, CB and I decided on a salade with saumon that had been seared and then sliced thinly and spread over a bed of cucumber and wakami seaweed, garnished with scallions. This saumon mi-grillé was fabulous. The dressing for the salad consisted of soya sauce and sesame oil – simple and delicious.
Additionally, this dish came accompanied by a pulp which we suspected was made from tomatoes that I mistook for tobiko (salmon roe). It had the same hue as the salmon pieces and was found tucked in between slivers of fish. Again, delicious!
The crowning dish for CB had to be the unagi:
This was cooked so beautifully that the eel melted upon first contact on our tongues. The teriyaki sauce (yes, this you eat with the sweet sauce) was sublime. Oiishi, kawan kawan. So bagus, that I will definitely order this the next time for myself, no sharing.
Kawan kawan, this has been a truly wonderful eating experience. I think I may be able to live in Paris long term afterall, saved by Comme Des Poissons. And of course, arigato Debbie chan.
Comme Des Poissons
24, rue de la Tour
01 45 20 70 37