Orient Extreme: the peer of Nobu in Paris
Tthe dining climate in “The city of lights” (“La Ville-Lumière”) has shifted immensely. The locals and visitors alike are open to a more cosmopolitan food and seek a lighter alternative to the usually heavy lunch and dinner at a French restaurant. The Asian cuisine is currently thriving in Paris with Japanese catching up with the already popular Thai food. Orient Extreme is one of the leaders of the contemporary Japanese restaurants in Paris. With its chef once leading the local Nobu, the Orient Extreme has got also the Nobu’s feel as well as the nikkei blend of Peruvian and Japanese ingredients.
Toyofumi Ozuru as a young chef trained in Tokyo and then moved to Paris, where he headed a number of Japanese restaurants including the globally famous Nobu. His style is fresh and contemporary, in the fashion of the Nobu restaurants (excluding the Matsuhisa chain, where Nobu himself is most involved).
The atmosphere is a very Nobu style – classy, simple, yet furnished with high-quality materials, comfortable chairs and wooden tables. The room is humming with glamorous people.
You can also sit outside, but I do not like it as much as you sit just across from the RTL broadcaster’s office building so it spoils a bit the atmosphere. For the inside dress accordingly – anything stylish including cool jeans and a nice shirt is allowed.
Food: New style sashimi of sea bream is one of the most popular dishes of the contemporary Japanese cuisine. It is a raw fish carpaccio served with green chilli and cilantro. At the Orient Extreme they prepare it very well. Using the freshest fish is crucial and getting the balance of seasonings right guarantees the utmost pleasure from this dish.
Many Japanese chefs including Nobu Matsuhisa spent some time in Peru and were inspired by the local cuisine. Later, they spread this South American cuisine with its nourishing ingredients across the world. The Peruvian Ceviche with lobster on the Orient Extreme’s menu is one of such Peruvian musings. Zesty and crisp dish with lots of onion and lime, it is ideal to mix with seafood such as lobster. It is a tricky pairing with wine, but I would go for an oaky Chardonnay with a less dominant acidity to balance the mouth-squeezing sauce. It is one of my favourite Peruvian dishes I enjoy anywhere if the fish or seafood is fresh.
Tataki is another hit of current Japanese cooking. It is a half-cooked (gently seared) slice of fish with oil-based sauce. The salmon tataki we had was perfectly balanced. Cooked lightly just as it should be and it melted in my mouth easily leaving a long and intense aftertaste.
After all that fish, one desires something like a salad. We have ordered two of the seaweed salads to compare them. I preferred the first one – Sunomono KYURI WAKAME. It is a Japanese seaweed salad with cucumber and Japanese Vinaigrette. Refreshing salad ideal between the uncooked and cooked dishes.
The KAISEN SALAD was a bit too complex – Japanese seaweed salad with lemon and sashimi moriawase – a mix of various fish and seafood. The shrimps were delicate and juicy, the salmon was rich and melted slowly on the tongue and the salmon eggs burst softly leaving their juice to enliven your palate. The weakness of this dish was the white fish as it tasted a bit too fishy and had a bit too chewy texture. Underlined and summed up it was not the kind of salad I would want as it was more about the sashimi and not about the vegetables.
The Spicy tuna sushi on a crispy rice might not be on the menu, but if a Japanese food connoisseur orders it, he should get it as it became a staple on most of the contemporary Japanese menus. At the Orient Express, it is magnificent so after ordering the first pair we had to get another one. The chopped fish with chilly sauce covering the fried bun of rice is a rich-tasting, mouth-filling, and highly addictive sushi invention. My mind crossed a comparison to Monaco’s Buddha Bar take on this dish, which my partner always orders without thinking sometimes twice (although there they serve five pieces as one order, so he ends up eating a lot of them). This dish requires a richer, fuller wine so do not hesitate to move to red if you started with a crisp white.
Moving to the world of pasta (but the Italian type, although described as such) we ordered Gyoza – toasted ravioli with various fillings. We chose gyoza filled with chicken and vegetables. Authentic and tasty warm meal ideal for sharing.
Looking into other people’s plates is found to be improper in most of cultures, including in my native Czech Republic, yet I must confess this is the only etiquette rule I keep breaking regularly. It is just too tempting to peak on the neighbors’ table in search for an inspiration. This time, I saw one of my favorite baked Japanese dishes and I had to order it as it looked so seductively. The NASU Dengaku is an eggplant gratin with sweet miso paste. It is so rich and its texture is so delicate and savory that if I had to have only one cooked dish from the menu, I would go for this one.
Drinks: Sake or wine? Both are great with Japanese food, although with wine one has to be quite selective. French Burgundy and white wines from Alsace are a great match to this food. We got a bottle of Chassagne Montrachet, 2006 from Michel Picard and were more that satisfied. This Chardonnay worked nicely with most of the dishes.
Mon-Sat: 12noon-3pm; Dinner: 8pm-11pm
+33 (0)1 47 20 91 58
21 rue Bayard, 75008, Paris