Sushi B serves one of the best authentic omakase (chef’s choice tasting) sushi courses in Europe. This eight seat sushiya in Paris caters to these seeking authentic, yet personally curated, high-end, discrete sushi counter experience in the French capital. In the heart of the Asia-centric Opera precinct the foodie Japanophiles appreciate with respect and wonder a meal that orderly follows a sequence of seasonally inspired seafood dishes, but, unusually for a sushi restaurant, vegetarians are welcome too,.
A gorgeous seasonal ikebana (Japanese flower arrangement) welcomes the gourmands into the compact Tokyoite dining room. The rest is between you, the Michelin stared chef Masayoshi Hanada and the fellowship of intrigued Japanese food lovers.
For a top quality fish and seafood, Sushi B is a good deal, particularly at lunch. In Japan you would be charged a double for the same amount of food. In Europe finding an excellent sushi is like hunting for white truffles, rare and highly coveted by the serious gourmands aware of its ingredients dependent essence. The chef savvily sources much of of his seafood in the European waters, while also competes with the high bidders at the Tsukiji market auctions in Japan.
In Paris, Sushi B is seasoned with an elegant, contemporary yet subtle design suitable for the highly competitive local dining scene. The modern, wide counter seats are comfortable for the hour exceeding tasting meal about to commence.
The gustatory indulgence at Sushi B is not as much in the realm of bold flavours or textures, but an overall harmony. Far from bland though, as from the back kitchen some high in umami plates salt your palate, and recently, to my husband’s pleasure, the final maki roll became so large that I chewed through it for five minutes (like the oversized morsels at Jiro’s sushi in Tokyo). The Kyushu born chef speaks English, French, and Japanese so he attends personally to his intimate assemble of guests seated around the v-shaped counter table. Watch him in action carefully.
From the shortest sushi menu at lunch (when you have to catch the plane or train), through a full lunch menu including appetisers, a warm main plate, and dessert (we return to this option frequently), a large omakase tasting focused on sushi only to a vegetarian “terre” menu (must be ordered in advance), you will be served by two Japanese ladies with a very limited command of English, so be patient since they try very hard to please you. The French service at one dinner we had last fall at Sushi B was not as good as the Japanese ladies. I have tried all the menus except for the vegetarian, since here I do not expect the veggies shining under the chef’s knife, for a garden inspired menu next day I go to l’Arpege to balance my ocean-depleting behaviour. The fish and seafood, often relatively locally sourced (Atlantic), like the big eye snapper, langoustine, wild salmon, sea bream and turbot, are the decadent gems to appreciate at Sushi B.
I dined at Sushi B in a late spring twice, early summer and last fall for dinner. Each meal you start with the chef’s signature amouse bouche – the creamy warm black sesame goma-dofu with a splash of soy sauce and a dab of fresh wasabi. Its crust used to be like an aged brown Reblochon cheese, but recently, charred over a charcoal turning ashy black like a mold ripened Valençay. A high taste profile take of the traditional Japanese kudzu starch thickened sesame delicacy, that is superb for some while uninteresting for others. We love this plant-based welcome bite at Sushi B. Even though it still does not measure up to the elegant and subtle boldness of the goma-dofu served at top kaiseki restaurants in Kyoto, the chef intriguingly tweaks his recipe.
For a Sunday dinner late in the fall, next appetiser was nothing less glamorous than a succulent, delicately cooked Brittany lobster with a season-echoing apple sauce, physalis and vinegar, followed by a Sea bream sashimi with a sweet, delicate and creamy like Hokkaido uni but softer Icelandic sea urchin served with a tsukemono of raw white radish and a dab of fresh wasabi. Prior to the main course a risqué blockbuster concoction of a cooperation between the front chef and the curtained kitchen was served. The Charcoal grilled smoky Brittany scallop with crispy kombu seaweed, a raw shrimp with shaved bottarga and shredded tororo kombu (thin and long flakes of shaved dried kombu that has been softened in vinegar), and a runny egg with caviar for me (an elevated mercury showing blood test premeditated me to avoid the tuna tartare that my fellow diners enjoyed) topped with lobster brain was very salty, but the crunchy pieces in briny creamy brain parts were the subject of judgemental discussion for your own brain. The main plate was again charcoal seared. The Red mullet with its crispy skin, raw marinated pickled turnip and seared pepper was simply welcomed after the previous challenger. A clear Soup with fried tofu, french cep mushrooms, yuzu, chinese cabbage was still delicately broiling a large soft Atlantic oyster, now we were ready for the straight game of omakase sushi, more sake, please! Masayoshi Hanada changes the palate-cleansing pickles serving diverse types of radishes that freshen you up between the sushi mouthfuls. In the place of ginger, once you get translucent sheets of a white radish, other time the purple pink ume plum vinegar coloured the peeled red radishes.
During our first visit the chef asked after our first bite if the wasabi level was ok, subsequently he knew. The grainy, firm feel of the rice from Niga in the northern part of Japan that Sushi B chose elevates the neta (topping) well. Starting with a white fish like brill (turbot family) bristled with a soy sauce or sea bass spiced with shichimi togarashi from Hokkaido; then often a sublime squid (ika) with lime and tiny brush of soy shows up, and so does the not-so-Japanese but excellent creamy textured wild salmon or white salmon in June. My favourite morsel served each time was the almost raw Brittany langoustine sushi, oh la la! Seasonal treats like the Mediterranean gambas with white kombu, charred mantis shrimp with a touch of yuzu; a creamy texture but shy scallop, gas seared aburi – a paper thin slightly chewy red mullet with its rose skin, make each visit unique.
Oily fish include a horse mackerel with a touch of soy sauce, marinated and smoked (like dried katsuoboshi) bonito that is amazing, but its powerful taste predestines only bold fish to follow.
The meaty fleshed bluefin tuna (maguro); delicately melting chu-toro (medium fatty tuna); a meaty smoky sword fish; and in winter o-toro bathing in its solid fat melts away on your tongue.
Since I avoided tuna and now refuse the bluefin tuna due to environmental awareness, the chef has cut differently the creamy soft, not like the previous hedgehog firm cut squid, instead of the chu-toro, I savoured uni from Iceland or any other morsel that I wanted to repeat – the langoustine, please!
Lunch at Sushi B in Paris is much cheaper (€116 for two, plus drinks) and on our to do list when we visit Paris. The more creative and diverse omakase dinner comes at €320 for two people. Any extra piece of sushi adds extra €7-10 depending on the seafood.
Drinks at Sushi B in Paris include a minuscule two-page Francophile wine list (branded champagne, mostly newer vintages of established regions, but also niche Burgundy) next to a solid sake menu such as Kuheiji Daiginjo 50 Désir from Aichi or a cloudy unfiltered sake from Nara, nice rice-forward sparkling dry vintage Bunraku Arroz Daiginjo sake from Saitama by the glass that we liked. A bottle of red Gevrey-Chambertin Pinot Noir with our dinner was half the price as the most expensive sake gem on the list, the Kokuryu ISHIDAYA Daiginjo from Fukui (€560). A good selection of Japanese tea, served warm or on ice, a smooth still Alpine water from Thonon, sparkling wanter and a small range of organic juices satisfy tea-to-tellers and business lunchers.
There is an outpost of Sushi B in Milan, but the rumourers whisper that it is not at the same level as in Paris. The Italy’s commercial capital does not have much of excellent pure Japanese food, but the superb contemporary Japanese meets Italian food at Tokuyoshi lifts the bar, I recommend trying it.
Sushi B: 5 Rue Rameau, 7002 Paris
Open for lunch and dinner. Closed on Tuesdays and holidays.
AMEX is accepted.