As much as we love the ubiquitious soup-salad-sushi set menu deals available all over Paris, there are some Japanese restaurants that are worth saving up for. Featuring the freshest fish, fastest hands and funkiest combinations - these are the finest sushi joints the city has to offer. Can't find your favourite in our list? Let us know in the comment box below or tweet us.
A creative, unconventional sushi restaurant, with bright pop colours on the walls and on your plate. The mood is set by the house cocktails – like the ‘Dawn over Tokyo’ – that mix well known flavours like Martini or Saké with less familiar tastes like that of purple-leaved shisho. Makis (rolled sushi) are Blueberry’s great speciality. They're served in sixes, each more weirdly named than the last (Les Trublions, Rackam le Rouge, Iroquois, Transsibérien, etc.). They are elaborate, well thought through, and unusual – not for sushi purists.
A Japanese venue in the middle of Belleville’s Chinatown, which draws in passers-by with gentle aromas of grilled eel, miso soup and tempura. Inside, there's a small room with a view onto the Eglise Saint-Jean-Baptiste, and a few seats at the bar facing the chef. The sushi is seriously high quality, the salmon and prawns firm and fresh (with the wasabi already layered between the rice and fish – beware).
One of the best sushi restaurants in Paris is tucked away on the bank of the Seine by the Ile Saint Louis. Isami's small dining room is simply decorated but for the rows of Japanses earthenware stacked behind the bar like a vast library, and in front of them the Itamae (master sushi chef) works away in a frenzy. It’s well worth a watch.
Expect a daily changing menu of red Mediterranean tuna, wild salmon, octopus or shellfish. The Laotian chef creates original versions of classic fish dishes, sure to banish any memories of supermarket sushi. The set menus are also wonderfully affordable; €14.90 at lunch is cheaper than a lot of mainstream Japanese places.
Two signs 20 metres apart on the Rue Greneta, this Japanese-American hybrid is a pure Californian sushi bar, with a décor touched by Hollywood and the Far East. Relax and enjoy the creativity; 'Krunchy' maki with prawn tempura and avocado, a Chenille (caterpillar) with avocado and eel, or a Cicciolina (fried calamari, aioli and cucumber). They’re unusual, for sure, but they’re also fresh and moreish. For more substantial dishes, try the BBQ bowl with marinated grilled beef, courgettes, fried celery and rice.
Toritcho is a real izakaya, one of those bars of the people where customers nibble on tapas-style small plates while having a drink, and one of the oldest and most authentic Japanese restaurants in Paris. Expect yakitori made from chicken meat, liver, gizzards and skin, or from vegetables that you can order salted or in a sweet and sour sauce.
Don’t be put off by the slightly decrepit frontage – this is the real deal, with products and service in the authentic Japanese tradition. Sit at the bar if you can, and watch the chef preparing the dishes with disconcerting speed and an unfailing smile. At midday, the set sushi menus (€14 and €18) come with soup, salad, rice and dessert.
This is an unmissable destination for fresh fish lovers. The restaurant’s little blue frontage might not be much to look at, but once you get inside it oozes quality. Craftsmen of formidable calibre, the chefs don't hesitate to give diners stern instructions in sushi etiquette.On the menu, there are a series of fish dishes served on big bowls of rice: grilled eel (the house signature dish), maguro-natto.
Philippe Starck’s latest venture in Paris is a rock-Japanese outfit occupying a 500m2 space just off the Champs-Elysées. It’s been set up to like like a narrow Chinatown street, bustling and colourful at night, with open kitchens at the end where chefs work away beneath an array of suspended woks and neon lights. Giant paper lanterns are everywhere, forests of umbrellas hung over the tables, and there's a 26-metre table made up of a mosaic of screens, across which a dragon turns somersaults.