The Japanese contrast Americans in many ways – witness the silence that enshrouds their culinary encroachment of Parisian streets, settling across our local landscape like snowfall at night. Where a Murder Burger opening in a local museum made Global headlines, (a CBS story by David Turecamo still gets regular viewings), the small avalanche that secured the removal of a much-loved, timeless French Bistrot was strangely noiseless, with nothing more than a discrete smile & a polite bow.
I have watched in fascination and neighbourly goodwill as the transformation of one particular crossroad arrested my famously blinkered attention over the last few years. The Rue Saint Anne meets the Rue Therese where once, like any other Parisian corner, one would have found a café, a tobacconist, a boulangerie & a neighbourhood bistrot.
No longer mes amis.
First, I noticed that the Bistrot in question, already a pretty respectable second generation Udoneria & Gyozaria, had grown to include the ‘Magasin d’a Côté’, proving steady demand for their product. Then, more recently, the café-tabac morphed into a fast-moving Stir-Fly where the live rolling of Gyozas has replaced the rolling of cigarettes. So be it. Smoking ? Go outside !
Well yes. I did. Not to smoke, but to pick up a baguette. The boulangerie is still there…
Or is it ? Closer inspection reveals that this rather run down place with a pretty average offering has had a lifting. Cleaner, brighter & smarter. The little croissants & tarts lined up à la high street jeweler. Under Japanese direction.
The plot unfolds. Just around the corner, a few doors down the Rue Villedo, where until quite recently a gentrified Parisian clientelle of ‘fidèles’ gathered between the welcoming walls of second generation André Genin’s ‘Chez Pauline’ to savour (not so) timeless delicacies like ‘Jambon Persillé’, ‘Ris de veau en croûte’ & a traditional French offering of ‘Gibier’ in the Autumn – well guess what ? – there in this hallowed spot, by far the most classy looking Udoneria in Paris now proudly awaits you.
Open for a bit more than a month, “Kunitoraya” is making many locals happy with the best Tempura in Paris, – excepting that they propose ‘au comptoir’ on the Rue Saint Anne – cold noodles that make the emotional weep & the most essential ingredient any self-respecting Parisian requires – a carefully selected wine list. (Open on Sunday).
Further advancement is in store as the Japanese community busy themselves with ‘dusting off’ other local culinary offerings. The Rue de Richelieu has been short of a Fromagerie for years. It had become an immobilerium. In the coming days our local Indo-Pakistani restaurant, (some ideas are a little strange), will re-open as a chic looking Comptoir de Fromage. Do not expect to be greeted by a man with a handlebar moustache.
But the Japanese might not have it all their way in this game of stealth & surprise as it is played out around the back streets of the Louvre. A ‘Revolutionary’ Rue de Richelieu Panini – well 20 years ago – has departed, leaving behind a lone coke dispenser. The facade, claiming Thai origins, now reads “Kao Pat”.
Get the Saké ?