If I tell my Japanese colleagues I have been out to eat Japanese food in Paris, they normally tut, laugh and recommend me somewhere better. Then they go off on a tangent and talk about the best ramen in Tokyo. (I know just enough food vocabulary to understand at least this.) The fact is, the Japanese know about eating. They appreciated high art in culinary design long before we did; consequently they have amassed more Michelin stars than France (for shame).
So, I know that Naritake has the best ramen (as long as you ask for extra broth to dilute the powerful miso.) Jipangue has shabu-shabu to die for: thin strips of marbled beef to wave through a pot of stock until just cooked, then dipped in lemon-soy dressing. What about desserts? For a start there is Yamazaki, an international name.
There are branches all over the world: Tokyo, Malaysia, Paris. Here the shop is an odd mix of high art and the local lunch spot. They have standard sandwiches and packets of financiers, but also bottles of champagne and the ubiquitous coloured rows of macarons. It’s not a cosy tea room: stark lit, functional, with bold red and grey lilies stencilled on the walls.
I tried something different amid the classics, a champagne dessert: a translucid gold bubble, a fine circle of orange-brushed chocolate perched on top, a touch of gold leaf. Break through the bubble and my first thought was Christmas. The delightful headiness of alchol-soaked fruit, envelopped in a light champagne and apricot mousse, hiding a pistachio biscuit and the drunken prunes. Surprisingly, it works: a subtle mix of flavours, different layers of colour.
Worth a visit: though yuzu and matcha are everywhere these days, Yamazaki Aoki carries off the mix of Japanese and French patisserie with aplomb.
Around 5 euros for a small individual dessert, 2 euros for a chou puff.
Yamazaki – 6 Chaussée Muette, 75016 – metro La Muette – open every day