Hotaru, one of the best Japanese restaurants in Paris

 

 As you already know, I was in Paris this past week. Among all the things I did there, one of them was to go eat in my favorite Japanese restaurant in town.

See, for the past five years or so, Paris has literally been invaded by Japanese restaurants. Except that it hasn’t.

What do I mean by that?

I mean that more than 90% of those so-called Japanese restaurants are not Japanese at all (most of the time they’re run by Chinese people, or simply French people) and they’re simply surfing on the fact that sushi are very popular in France right now. Except that what you’ll eat in those “restaurants” is the worst kind of sushi you can imagine. However, apparently, people that sell them don’t mind because they have no ethics and people that eat them don’t mind because they can’t even tell the difference between Japanese and Chinese food in the first place.

So, while a lot of people seem to be happy with this odd arrangement, I am not. I know what Japanese cuisine is, and I know what sushi is. Oh and also I care about eating good food made with quality products. So you won’t see me in one of those restaurants who confuse junk food and fine cuisine anytime soon.

Luckily, there are also a few real Japanese restaurants in France, especially in Paris. In the capital, you’ll find most of them on or near rue Ste Anne, in the 1st and 2nd arrondissements, but the restaurant I want to tell you about today is not in this neighborhood as it is located in the 9th arrondissement, somewhere in between the Grands Boulevards and Montmartre.

It is called Hotaru and it is one of the finest and best Japanese restaurants in Paris.

It is a fish restaurant, but not only. Its chef, Isao Ashibe, is the son of the chef who opened the very first Japanese restaurant in Paris in the 60′s and he learned to master his skills first next to his dad, but mostly in Tokyo from the best chefs in town. The result is a cuisine that is both traditional and original, always genuine and always made with top notch quality products.

I usually go there for lunch, first because it’s cheaper, and also because for some reason, there are no sushi in the dinner menu; but last week we went for dinner. It’s always better to celebrate with a dinner rather than a lunch, isn’t it?

Indeed, we had a few things to celebrate; my brand new visa to Japan, my friend being promoted at her job, and a few other things. So a dinner was more fitting.

And this is what we got :

 

For starters, a few sashimi, tuna, salmon and one of my favorite sea bream.

 

Kakiage (pronounced “Kah-Kee-Ah-Geh”), some sort of tenpura of vegetables.

 

Torikatsu (breaded chicken)

 

Fried salmon, Japanese style

 

Are you hungry yet?

In case you want to go next time you’re in Paris, here is the address:

Hotaru
18, rue Rodier
75009 Paris
01 48 78 33 74

Métro : Cadet or Notre-Dame-de-Lorette

 

Give it a try, you won’t regret it.

Bon appétit!

 

 

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David Billa

David was born and raised in the French South West. After a few years in the US and a few more in Paris, he finally settled down in Japan. He blogs here about his various experiences and travels, with an emphasis on his home country, France.

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21 Responses

  1. Thank you for this review. It looks delicious.
    I will go and taste this real Japanese food :).

  2. cocomino says:

    Interesting. I didn’t know “Paris has literally been invaded by Japanese restaurants. ” but most of them are run by Chinese.

    These dishes are really same to Japanese food.Now I’m hungry.
    cocomino recently posted..Planting Seeds With My Child / Planté algunas semillasMy Profile

    • David says:

      Yeah, those Chinese restaurants calling themselves Japanese are really everywhere now in Paris, and they’re really terrible (what’s worse is that most of them used to be decent Chinese restaurants before their “renovation”).

      On the other hand, Hotaru is 100% genuine, the dishes look the same as Japanese food because they’re real Japanese food.

  3. Lil says:

    looks like a place i need to try. i’ve been checking out a few “japanese” places in town and still have yet to settle on one i like best. i did find a couple of places that i would never go again though…
    Lil recently posted..Day 278: A night at the operaMy Profile

    • David says:

      Hi,
      Thanks for stopping by.
      It is definitely one of the best Japanese in town.
      I don’t know how well you know Paris and Japanese cuisine, but the city is plagued with hundreds of crappy fake Japanese. The real ones are this one, most of the ones in and around rue Ste Anne, plus a couple more on the West Bank.

      • Lil says:

        I’ve been in Paris for a few months now, and yes, I have been warned re fake Japanese. Actually, I don’t need to be warned. I could understand what the owners/staffs are talking about and I don’t speak Japanese. Disclosure: I do speak a number of Chinese dialects. ;)
        Lil recently posted..Day 299: L’Acteur grecMy Profile

  4. michelle says:

    Love this piece
    I’m seriously trusting you on this one mate!
    I’m a freak when it comes to authenticity.
    Am popping into Paris for the weekend.
    Where should I eat??????????????
    THANKS!
    Michelle xx

    • David says:

      Thanks.
      I hope I’m not too late for advice (I’m currently rarely online, it should get better by the end of next month).
      I’d love to advise you, but as I don’t know, it may be pretty hard.
      If you want authenticity, try to go where the locals go, and not the tourists.

  5. I tried it today. Really marvelous dinner. :-)
    Leviacarmina (@leviacarmina) recently posted..la photo du mois de novembre : « au bout du monde »My Profile

  6. A menu with many different dishes : flan de la terre et de la mer, foie gras de lotte, mini-chirashi d’oursin, sashimi, maquereau grillé, huître panée, mousse de kaki and some fruits.
    Leviacarmina (@leviacarmina) recently posted..la photo du mois de novembre : « au bout du monde »My Profile

  7. Mary Kay says:

    Since I love Japanese food, I’m very pleased to have a new restaurant to try in Paris. When a Japanese friend was visiting a couple of weeks ago, we went to Kunitoraya for udon noodles, Yen for soba noodles and Kura for a tasting menu. If you’re looking for other authentic Japanese restaurants, my friend approved of these places.
    Mary Kay recently posted..How many Statues of Liberty are there in Paris?My Profile

    • David says:

      I know Kunitoraya very well, it’s one of the restaurants I’ve been the most in Paris ;-) I may have gone to Yen once, and I don’t know Kura.
      Thanks for the info, however, nowadays if I’m looking for authentic Japanese restaurants, I just need to go down the street as I recently moved to Japan. ;-)

  8. Mary Kay says:

    Lucky you!

    Funny that Kunitoraya is one of the restaurants where you’ve eaten the most frequently in Paris. Me, too! We went there for a steaming bowl of udon soup today, right before going to the Luxembourg Garden to find the Statue of Liberty.
    Mary Kay recently posted..Sunday’s picture and a song – Statue of Liberty in the Luxembourg GardenMy Profile

    • David says:

      Awesome.
      Yeah, I fell in love with Sanuki Udon on the first day I stumbled upon it, back in 2003 in Florida of all places.
      And guess where I live now? In Kagawa (aka Sanuki) although it is a coincidence… but an awesome one…

  9. Flo- says:

    Thanks for this review David. I’m gonna visit Paris soon so I’ll try it for sure.

    Can you tell me what’s the average amount for the dinner ?

    Like you I’m so bored to see ppl going to Vietnamese restaurants to eat nigiri or maki sushi ~~ They should do it by themselves :)
    Flo- recently posted..Sushi mais encore ? Les YakisobaMy Profile

  10. Tiphanya says:

    Trop cher pour moi, mais si je dois fêter quelque chose je retiens l’adresse.
    Je te recommande Higuma : 10€ par personne, beaucoup à manger, une nourriture comme au Japon (dixit mon namoureux qui y a été). Les cuisiniers et serveurs sont japonais (au moins d’origine), mais c’est vrai que le propriétaire est chinois.
    (désolé de répondre en français, mais autant cela ne me gêne pas d’utiliser mon anglais moyen avec des anglophones qui ne parlent pas français, autant là, je préfère éviter de me ridiculiser).

    • David says:

      C’est cher, oui et non. À midi, tu peux y manger pour 20€, ça fait deux repas chez Higuma. Je n’y allais pas non plus tous les jours (j’étais aussi plutôt fauché quand je vivais à Paris), mais disons que je préférais payer les Euros en plus là et ne pas en dépenser pour d’autres choses.

      Pour l’anglais, il ne faut jamais penser que l’on est ridicule… en fait, la seule façon d’être ridicule avec une langue, c’est de penser qu’on la maîtrise quand ce n’est pas le cas. Mais on n’est jamais ridicule en l’utilisant, même en ne la maîtrisant pas totalement.
      D’expérience, les seules personnes jugeant le niveau de langue étrangère des autres, sont ceux qui n’en parlent pas du tout.
      J’ai souvent entendu “oh la, comment il/elle se la pête avec son anglais/allemand/japonais/whatever” venant de gens plus ou moins monolingues. Je n’ai jamais entendu “oh la, comme son anglais/allemand/chinois est médiocre.” (sauf dans le cas précédemment cité -quelqu’un qui a une opinion un peu trop favorable de son propre niveau, et/ou des cas particuliers – une personne ayant certaines responsabilités ou devoirs dans la langue donnée et n’étant pas linguistiquement qualifié).
      En d’autres termes, n’hésite pas à écrire en anglais, personne ne pensera que tu es ridicule. Parmis les commentaires ci-dessus, je te conseille de jeter un oeil à cocomino et son blog. Il est japonais, son anglais est loin d’être parfait, il le sait, mais il écrit un blog entièrement en anglais, et vraiment je l’admire énormément pour cela, et en plus ça l’aide à progresser.
      Comme je dis toujours, une langue, c’est pas un savoir, c’est une pratique, comme le sport et la musique.

      Donc la prochaine fois, c’est commentaire en anglais, où je ne publie pas. ;-)

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