Update: 2nd visit, arrived before it opened for lunch. Had a few maguro (tuna) before trying their curry. The first was ok, a bit too cold – the second was great – now I’m starting to think you need to let the rice warm up a bit before eating, so that it really melts in the mouth. The curry was good, not spicy enough for my tastes, but a very good portion with the famous panko coating, and yes, that pork is fatty! The ebi (prawn) curry is also in panko, not tempura style! The brave can ask for stuff that’s not on the menu (o-toro etc).
You get what you pay for:
Zen charges €10 per pair of maguro (standard tuna) sushi, while Kilala charges around €9 and Michi €8.
You pay a ridiculous amount at Kilala, and frankly it’s getting a bit much, it’s like being fed at someone’s house, which is nice and all, but sheesh, sometimes you want to go all out for the real deal. Zen will give you that.
I love Michi and all but if I want escape that cramped feeling, then Zen is the best choice, overall, for an actual restaurant experience, in Paris, so far. On second thoughts, all the good places are cramped and still make it feel like a canteen, apart from Takara & Nobu.
Zen was recommended to me by a friend at SNK, for their Tonkatsu. And a delight it is, with amazingly crisp panko/ breadcrumb coating. I found the pork a bit too fatty for my taste, however.
Then the young crab
Anyway the sushi. Trust, this is the best accessible sushi in Paris. It looks a bit plastic in the other photo, but omg no, these boys mean business. They are just not messing around. It was fantastic.
I’ve also had sushi at Nobu, but the whole dining with people in mink coats and having a sliver of Wagyu on my plate for a lot of my gold just killed the experience. Takara was also excellent but the focus should be the shabu shabu.
At Zen, although crowded, at least the staff and chefs gave you the traditional service, plus the lower level was full of Japanese business men. Nuff said.
Oh and the beef was a seasonal special and to die for!
When I think about it, the delicate and vinegared rice plus the temperature of the fish made the sushi really stand out. I’ve often had sushi with average rice, or fish that’s still cold from the fridge. At Zen, perhaps I was just lucky, but it reminded me of a busy but high quality sushi place in Tokyo. When I put the sushi in my mouth, I shut it and focused. I’m more easily distracted at other places.
You get what you pay for. Getting good sushi outside of Japan is VERY expensive.
Book a table for dinner, and go. It will be busy. At lunch, the place filled up in ten minutes flat (no booking possible).
Prices on average (euros): 10 for a pair of maguro (tuna), 8 for salmon, 15 for uni (sea urchin tongue), 10 for curry, 15 for curry with prawn or pork, 5 for small beer. So you could eat modestly for €20, but if you want a real sushi dinner, better get ready to dig deep. Do remember that sushi is not meant to be their speciality so there normally isn’t a wide range.
Rating 9/10: our new favourite restaurant