1 Rue Pierre Leroux,
Phone: +33 1 43 06 14 18
Sick of eating French food in France? Hey, it happens. Though it’s an exemplary cuisine, it’s also a decadent one, and sometimes you just need a break, which is what compelled my husband and I to take a night off and eat Japanese. Before you get too excited, I should warn you that most Japanese in Paris aren’t great. In fact, the sushi is downright mediocre. But there are a few, fantastic exceptions and Aida is most definitely one of them. (Thus, all the Japanese guests in the dining room.)
That’s because the chef and owner, Koji Aida, came to Paris straight from the countryside of Japan. And after an hour inside this serene oasis in the 7th arrondissement, you may forget your in France entirely. Both the food and the space is traditional teppanyaki with only chef counter seating for nine, a two top table, or a private back booth where you slip your shoes off. The only French thing about it is the Burgundy-centric wine list, which I’m all for, though there are plenty of sakes or bubbly to drink if you prefer.
Aida features simple, but sophisticated Japanese home cooking set in a sparse space with nothing more than a blonde wood eating counter and some red lacquer trim. On the night I was there, we started with a Whiting Fish poached in Dashi Broth followed by a delicate Fluke Sashimi with a homemade Plum Sauce that put all others to shame. There was Abalone diced up and cooked on the plancha with morels. To be honest, I was worried the morels would upstage the fish, but the fish was meaty, the perfect match for the mushrooms. One of Aida’s signatures is a baseball–sized Lobster Meatball, which truthfully was lacking in flavor, but most everything else was beautifully pure and flavorful, like scored and seared Wild Bass , Toro and Fatty Tuna sushi, and battered fried Oysters with tartare sauce that would make for great pub grub. Perhaps the best thing on the menu is the Chateaubriand steak, cubed and cooked on the teppanyaki grill with crunchy slivers of garlic and mushrooms – proving French ingredients and Japanese technique make for a wonderful marriage. The itty bitty Wild Asparagus served over diced mountain yam was just another terrific example of this very notion.
I’m a big fan of Japanese wagashi, traditional Japanese desserts made with earthy, less sugary flavors, so I loved the sweets at Aida. We finished with Mochi and Red Beans bundled in a banana leaf, and another of Cubed Mint Jelly with Gariguette Strawberries, crowned with a Strawberry Granita.