When the frites and foie grasget too much for a gourmet visiting Paris, a little light, refined sushi might just be the order of the day. On a recent trip to the City of Light, I had the pure joy of eating at Kinugawa – a revered institution of haute Japanese cuisine – that has been recently redesigned by Gilles & Boissier in a graphic, cutting-edge style that is almost as interesting as the food itself. Dramatic murals, pointillist paintings, a black granite bar and bronze mirrors set the stage for what can best be described as theatrical cuisine.
After passing through the restaurant’s double doors, we were escorted to the sleek bar area for classic cocktails. The chic leather banquette seating is the perfect perch for watching the stylish parade pass by. Kinugawa is divided into distinct spaces and dinner is best enjoyed in a vast first-floor dining room with subtly textured walls, spare surfaces and greige chairs – all which take their cue from nature. The whole Kinugawa experience is a study in exquisite finishes and chic contrasts – dark cedar with lighter woods, polished stone and glass – which extends right up to l’Atelier, the intime sushi bar upstairs.
I would be hard-pressed to pick favourites from the menu, but if pushed, I’d say appetisers of delicate king crab in ponzu sauce (€28) and ultra-thin slices of maguro with with yuzu and white truffle oil (€18). This is simply my kind of dining: flavourful, beautifully presented and fundamentally healthy. Plates of sushi and sashimi were followed by vegetables prepared in innovative ways – ohitashi (spinach) with mushrooms, haricots verts in sesame sauce (both €10) – and some of the best chicken gyoza (€13) I’ve ever tasted. But it was the fish entrees – black miso cod (€32) and a Chilean sea bass (€29) in particular that have really stuck in my foodie memory. I realise that these mains can be found on many an Asian menu today, but Kinugawa’s renditions – light, juicy steaks of fish – might just be my last meal on earth, should I ever have to choose one.
I couldn’t possibly have had dessert, as the umpteen small plates made for an enormous feast, yet with just a refreshing herbal tea to cap the meal, I left Kinugawa feeling thoroughly sated… almost ready to face tomorrow’s croque monsieur.