We arrived in Paris at Gare du Nord at dusk. The temperature in the air does not feel like November, and it made all the Christmas trees in the street seem unreal.
Staying at the heart of town just off Place Vendome, we decided to take an aimless window shopping walk around our area until popping into any restaurant that looked interesting enough for a quick first evening dinner.
The magic of Paris turned me completely in to the tourist mode(although I was indeed a tourist). I was so up for all the cliche touristy photos. You name it, designer shop display windows, Christmas decorations, wicker chairs outside a Parisian bistro, the Lourve… I took pictures with all!
And all too soon, I could feel my stomach starting to rumble. I was at the time 100% ready for some snails and fresh bread and butter when I saw the humble sign of this Japanese restaurant called Jin
, almost hiding in one of those dark, narrow backstreets.
There’s something about the place, an unspeakable kind of charm and sincereness. It took me no time to decide that, forget about snails, I wanted to eat there. And I have to say, it did not disappoint.
Now about this place, let’s get a few things straight first.
1. Jin is not a cheap place to dine in. In fact, the menu is 135 euros per head, that’s not including drinks.
2. Jin offers the best quality of service, in a very Japanese way. In other words, you probably won’t get a big loud warm smily greeting from your waiter as you might do at an Italian restaurant. What you will get though, is 200% attention from your chef and waiter. Every empty plate is immediately replaced with a new one with your next course; every cup/glass half full(or half empty I heard if you were a pessimist?! :)))) is topped up before you next reach for it. But they do it in such a discreet manner that, you’ll only realise the existence of their service until you need them.
3. Jin doesn’t give you much choice, on food. They have a fixed menu, almost. You’ll get to choose a starter from a choice of two. And for the other 10+ courses, you eat whatever that’s presented in front of you. But on the other hand, you have all the choices when it comes to your drink. I tried warm and cold sake, whisky, shochu and tea throughout dinner. Each drink was presented in its own container in its unique way. Every piece was like an art in its own right.
So finally, how was food like?
I chose my starter tuna with carviar, over the white truffle soup. The carviar gave perfect season to the raw tuna tartar. The two combined together was sweet and fresh, yet stimulating on the palate. Before that, I’d already had the first two starters with king crabs. First one was a salad with lightly pickled cauliflower, and second one a crab soup with mushroom and chive.
After the carviar came the sea bream sashimi with mixed salt and fresh wasabi. The fish with a sprinkle of salt and a bit of wasabi gave an unexpected but great citrus taste, light but refreshing, prepared me to the next two starters(yes we’re still on starters) which were, excuse me for the metaphor but, like, multiple orgasms in the mouth.
Bringing the entire ocean to my mouth were these following two dishes: Poached abalone with sea urchin, and marinated Scottish oysters with long beans. Both of these, simple, elegant and powerful, literately blew my mind when I put them in my mouth. I had to take a break after the two, and ordered myself a stronger liqueur, sipping away, getting ready for the main event.
Then it came a stream of fishes, I mean, nigiri. They came one by one from light coloured meat to strong coloured tunas and finished with the salmon. The chef watched you closely as you picked up and ate each one of them, and immediately put a new one on your plate. There’s no need for extra wasabi or soy sauce, as each one was prepared with the perfect seasoning when it came on the table from your dedicated chef.
After all the nigiri, you finish off with some rice with tuna, a miso soup(but only just the best ever miso soup you’ll every taste!), an egg and yam cake, and finally a fig dessert.
Well I’ve kept the descriptions rather simple, because, look how long it is already! And I really want to keep the rest for you to try when you go there yourself. The restaurant is called Jin, located in Rue de la Sourdiere. I say definitely book before you go, as there are only about 14 seats in there. But the experience will be amazing as you’ll get to watch the greatest chefs work in such close distance. By the end of it, although you may have never talked, you’ll feel like you already have a personal relationship with them.
To be honest, a dinner like that can be quite exhausting, taking into account the great degree of focus you’ve placed on enjoying the food! I was glad that jump into my hotel bed afterwards:)
More of Paris(and the fashion bits) will be coming up next:)