Mad About Paris, Much more than a guide
Like in any other capital you can have Sushi, Sashimi & Company at every corner of Paris nowadays, yet in nine out of ten cases you’ll ask yourself afterwards: was it really worth it? You know the answer: normally, it wasn’t.
The preparation of really good sushi is a very tricky task. You not only need fresh, perfect fish, above all you need highly sophisticated skills that most of the Japanese fast-food-cooks don’t have to offer these days. The cooking and seasoning of the rice is a science in itself, the proper use of wasabi is a lifelong guessing game, it’s very demanding to achieve good results when it comes to pickled ginger – and then there’s the cutting and slicing of the fish which takes years of training. So you better think twice before going Japanese.
In Paris, you could have it the easy way though. Just book a table at Isami on Isle St. Louis and all the above questions will be resolved for you by Katsuo Nakamura, the enigmatic chef here. Nakamura is walking around on Geta shoes (the traditional wooden sandals, you know), he never says a word, he’s just working, highly concentrated, in order to get his clients decently fed. And how decently!
Isami is a place where you won’t find wasabi on the table to help yourself (and the restaurant doesn’t have its own webpage, of course). The chef here knows what is good for you and you shouldn’t question him, actually. Because his sushi and sashimi platters are works of art served on a plate.
Needless to say that Nakamura is mastering the traditional techniques perfectly. You’ll be surprised though what a huge difference this makes. In the end, it all depends on the cuts and the knife whether a slice of tuna just melts in your mouth or whether it reminds you of a piece of chewing gum. At Isami you’ll encounter unknown, comforting textures and brillant compositions when it comes to the colour game: you’ll have snow-white butterfish sitting next to salmon, flashy orange roe contrasting with the pastel of a piece of dorade. The maki rolls boast with surprising fillings, playing with Chinese spices, really, it’s a miracle.
And it’s expensive. Lunch for two will cost you 100 Euros (140 US$), just for the food. If you’re tempted by the Sake menu, your bill will add up to much more. And you know what? It’s not even a particularly nice place to dine out and the service is just so-so. So why would you go there? Because it’s all about food at Isami. You can feel it. You’ll enjoy it. You’ll come back.Isami 4 Quai d’Orléans 75004 Paris Tel. +33(0)1 40 46 06 97 Métro: Pont Marie or Cité