Sugared & Spiced

pâtissière in paris, now shanghai

[Paris] Kei

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Add: 5 rue Coq Héron, 75001 Paris
Tel: 01 42 33 14 74
Hours: 12:30~2pm, 7:30~9pm (closed Sun & Mon)
Price: [lunch] €45~75 [dinner] €95~118
Visited on: Nov 2012

Japanese chef Kei Kobayashi, after 7 years of experience at Alain Ducasse’s Plaza Athénée restaurant, opened his eponymous restaurant (awarded with one Michelin star) on a quiet street in the 1st arrondissement. The cuisine is nouveau French with a touch of Japanese influence, presented beautifully in an elegant dining room. Warm and attentive service, perfect pacing of dishes. Love, love, love.

One more thing to like about the restaurant is that while it’s quite small, the tables are set far enough apart to ensure personal space and privacy.

A warm hand towel upon arrival, how very Asian.

Kei offers set menus of four or five courses at lunch (45/75€) and six or eight courses (95/118€) at dinner. The menu doesn’t indicate what courses are included in the sets, and guests only get to choose between two meat dishes for the main course. My lunch date and I both decided on the four-course lunch menu, which started with a trio of amuse bouches. First, an iced shot of shiso, basil, and white balsamic vinegar. Sweet and slightly sour, it was a few refreshing sips that totally woke up our palates.

Amuse bouche number two, olive cake with dried ham and mushroom purée, a lovely harmony.

Amuse bouche number three, kabocha (Japanese pumpkin) cream soup with kabocha ice-cream, with a sprinkle of chocolate bits dancing across the top. It was a wonderful play on temperatures (hot soup and cold ice-cream) and textures (creamy soup and crunchy chocolate bits).

Olive oil from Sicily, and an amazing butter.

Could not stop with the bread…

First course, king prawn tempura with curry sauce and three types of salt: curry, smoked tea, and yuzu. The shrimp head was removed and fried separately to a crackly crunch, something that’s commonly done in Japanese cuisine. The shrimp body was fried in a light batter and sprinkled with yuzu peel – juicy, crunchy, and not at all oily.

Second course, foie gras with coffee powder and dots of almond, orange, and blackberry sauce. Very cute presentation.

Third course, crab and diced mushrooms in seafood emulsion, dotted with crunchy croutons and chopped chives. This little pot was a blend of flavors that were in perfect harmony with one another. Subtle, but not bland in the least bit.

For the meat course, we were given a choice between duck and veal. We decided to take the duck with braised leek, onion powder, and aubergine purée. The slender piece came pink with a crispy skin, with just the right amount of seasoning. I couldn’t taste much from the onion powder though…

Pre-dessert, a pop of earl grey tea.

Pre-dessert number two, almond tuiles drizzled with caramel sauce. Lovely crunch, lovely caramel.

Dessert was grilled pear with white cheese sorbet and basil cream. It was light and very in sync with all the preceding dishes, a befitting end for lunch.

The four-course menu turned out to be much more abundant that I expected, as it came with three amuse bouches, four savory courses, two pre-desserts, and one dessert. Each course was well-balanced – there’s no single dish that screamed for my attention with shocking flavor or texture – and the whole meal was a smooth procession filled with pleasant surprises. All that exceptional food for €45? Why yes, I’m definitely coming back.

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Written by sugarednspiced

November 12th, 2012 at 4:39 am