When it comes to fine Parisian dining, lavish, Michelin-starred meals have their place. But I seek out Japanese food whenever I’m in the City of Light because I’ve found it to be the best anywhere outside of Tokyo. My latest Asian culinary discovery, The Cod House, is not about formal food, but rather takes an izakaya – tapas style – approach to lunch or dinner, and it makes a meal here a delicious, friendly affair.
Set on a chic street in the heart of Saint-Germain-des-Prés, The Cod House won me over at its entrance: spectacular hanging lanterns illuminate the bi-level, airy space and cast a warm glow across its understated concrete and natural wood finishes. A welcoming bar stocks a wide range of sakes and signature cocktails, including a Kimm’s Earl Grey tea soda and a potent Nihon Cha Punch infused with matcha and lemongrass syrup. This is the perfect spot to wait for a table – and without a booking, wait you will – and watch the stylish Parisiennes pass by…
The Cod House is all about fun and that’s reflected in an inventive menu of Namamono (cold) and Atsumono (hot) dishes that are served in smaller sizes, made for sampling lots of different dishes in one visit. We seemed to eat one of everything on offer, including starters of baby spinach with grilled shrimp, yellowtail carpaccio with a delicate yuzu sauce and the lightest vegetable tempura I’ve ever tasted. I was particularly taken with the buttery tuna carpaccio “new style” and a silken sea bass sashimi, while others raved about the miso-glazed eggplant and grilled toban cuttlefish. As the name suggests, cod also plays a starring role in the line-up, whether in traditional miso-marinated form, in koroke – crispy croquettes – or in a new take on the traditional California roll.
This being a French establishment, they give good dessert game and we plumped for an impressive honey waffle with green tea ice cream along with apple and cinnamon gyoza, both a step up from typical izakaya sweets. If I lived locally, I’d eat here several times a week.