It’s Kaiseki, Jim, but not as we know it.

A week ago we had lunch at “Maison Kaiseki”. Friends brought us to this much talked about restaurant/sushi bar in the 15th arrondissement of Paris.

Using their own words, Maison Kaiseki is a restaurant laboratory. And when it comes to good food, I don’t mind to be a Guinea pig. Chef Hisayuki Takeuchi (aka Hissa) opened it in 1999 and since then have been creating unusual dishes, mixing traditional with innovative, experimenting, playing and pleasing the gourmets with this  New Japanese Cuisine.

 

Walking up to the restaurant, I was a little surprised by the location-it was on the ground floor of the modern residential building. Inside, it also didn’t have the look of those expensive Japanese restaurants or sushi bars- either traditional or super modern, which I expected to see.

It was rather a simple place, though with a good quality long and heavy wooden tables, simple art on the walls and good bathroom the size of a small Parisian bedroom with all the Japanese comforts included. (For me the bathroom is important part of the restaurant, I believe that it usually says a lot about the  place).

Maison Kaiseki is expensive. Even for lunch. Unless you take one of the Bento boxes and sip one of the six types of Japanese tea. But we were prepared for the prices and, since it was a friend’s birthday, we have decided to go all the way and order combination platters accompanied by Japanese  beer and wine.

Sashimi, sushi and rolls were served in big heavy plates with slightly unusual presentation, which was different  from Japanese minimalistic  approach. Kind of a little messy and artistic. But the quality and the taste was simply outstanding! I was closing my eyes with pleasure and didn’t want that pleasure to end.

Grilled fish which followed was truly wonderful, but not photogenic enough to include its picture here.

While we were waiting for the platter with maki, I was secretly hoping to get a California Roll, but no chance! Instead arrived rolls with  an strange names like pika-pika and don-don (avocado and raspberry and mango raspberry) and, God,  they were so good that I forgot all about my California roll. Even the rice was little different from normal sushi rice-not very sticky, but somehow marvelously held together within seaweed nori.

And then came the desserts. Another big platter (the combination of five), which itself looked like some bright abstract painting. Everything on the plate had familiar shapes of well known desserts, but with a different, unusual taste.

How about Green Tea Madeline or Goat Cheese Cheesecake with a touch of a green tea or Tarte Amandine made with rye flour instead of white? And all of these  little masterpieces were surrounded by patterns of beetroot juice, green tea powder and olive oil. It sounds bizarre to have an olive oil sprinkled on your dessert but  somehow it worked perfectly and I found myself surreptitiously using my finger to push the last crumbs into the tiny pools, trying to get every bit of it.

In other words they had a very content customer.

The chef also opened a sushi school in 2001 and have written a few beautiful recipe books.

Hisayuki-san, please continue experimenting! I will be your loyal follower (if I can afford it).

 

 

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