59 rue de la Boetie, 8th
M° Franklin D. Roosevelt
Tel 0825 56 88 88
Eight other locationsincluding 42 rue de Bretagne, 3rd; 71 rue du Cherche-Midi, 6th; and 32 rue des Martyrs, 9th.
American-Style Sushi in Paris?
Review by Lisa Molle Troyer
These days, you can hardly walk a block in Paris without passing a sushi joint. Most are run by people who are smart enough to ride a trend but have no real interest in sushi, so they offer the same generic salmon and tuna combined with rice in various ways. To be fair, it seems that’s exactly what people want – my husband and I could barely stifle our giggles when we started complaining to some friends that Parisian sushi is repetitive, and they revealed that they always order bowls of salmon chirashi (slices of fish on top of a bowl of rice). Every single time!
Now, I don’t believe in criticizing other people’s taste, but as a transplanted Californian I personally got very sick of plain salmon and rice, very quickly. Where were the dozens of seafood options, the creative sauces and tempura, the avocado?? You can certainly order plain sushi back home, but no one does because it’s much more fun to get a platter full of things like, arbitrarily, a Spicy Scallop Tempura Roll (Sea Scallop Tempura inside, outside with Eel and Avocado – at Ooka, where I indulged the last time I was Stateside). It made my mouth water just writing that description. None of this is authentically Japanese, of course, but that doesn’t make it any less addictive.
The bad news is that, despite months of intensive research, I can’t tell you where to get that kind of sushi in Paris. The good news is, my husband and I have discovered one chain that at least gives it a shot: Sushi Shop. As I discovered from watching the founder in a television interview, the menu was inspired by living and eating on the West Coast, and he clearly picked up a few ideas while he was there.
Don’t be put off by the take-away fridge in the entryway; you may be thinking that the food looks more or less identical to every other place in town, and you’d be right. Because they have to throw out any sushi they’ve made and failed to sell that day, they play it safe by stocking the same old combinations. Browse through the menu, though, and you’ll see mango, sea urchin, mandarins, crab, eel, papaya, scallops, cilantro, “cheese” (presumably a stand-in for American cream cheese; at just 3.50 euros, the cheese/avocado roll melts in your mouth), mint and plenty of avocado. The “rainbow rolls” (California rolls wrapped in fish, avocado or mango: 6.50 each) are some of my favorites, although the sauce in their spicy tuna is so mild in comparison to its American cousin that you can hardly taste it.
While they’re not much for tempura or baked rolls, the chain’s founders have added a few unmistakably European flavors of their own: foie gras and fig sushi rolled in nuts (appropriately called the French Touch, at 7.50 euros); or shrimp, pine nuts, mesclun and mayonnaise with white truffle oil (the Tuscan, 7 euros). Although these strange combinations do clash somewhat with the raw fish-based options, they were surprisingly tasty the one time I gave them a try.
I’ve heard several people complain that Sushi Shop is expensive, and they’re half right: there’s really no reason to go there and order the same things you can get anywhere else, because a platter of salmon sashimi does cost a bit more. If you’re ordering the more creative rolls, though, it’s actually cheaper than average! My husband and I used to spend 50 euros to fill up at our favorite (generic-menu) sushi restaurant by the Hôtel de Ville, whereas a satisfying two-person dinner from Sushi Shop runs us around 30 euros.
One potential drawback for some guests is the chain’s emphasis on take-out and delivery. Our nearest shop, for example, offers two big tables where you can technically enjoy a sit-down dinner, but you’re right next to the hustle and bustle of customers ordering at the cash register and delivery staff coming and going. Also, they don’t offer sushi boats (!). However, they do an excellent job stylishly packaging their sushi to go, with everything you need to enjoy it at home or even as a picnic: soy sauce, ginger, wasabi, chopsticks, high-quality napkins and even dipping bowls. Call in your order ahead for a quick pick-up. They also offer a nice selection of easy-to-transport snacks such as rice crackers, wasabi peas and seaweed salads – but skip the desserts.
Sushi Shop is no substitute for asking a creative California-style sushi chef to make you something different, but it will stem a craving for Philly rolls or barbecue eel without breaking the bank – and it’s also a nice change from eating Banette sandwiches every day for lunch.
Open 7 days a week, 11:00 am – 2:30 pm and 6:00 pm – 11:00 pm, except Sunday lunch.
Lisa Molle Troyer is a freelance translator and conference interpreter, which is every bit as daring and dramatic a career as Nicole Kidman would have you believe. Much to the relief of her family and friends, it also offers a more socially acceptable outlet for her language obsession, putting an end to semantic arguments over dinner. Born and raised in Toronto, educated in Southern California and now transplanted to Paris, she should probably be a die-hard urban dweller, but (not so) secretly prefers trees to bright lights. Between assignments, she sings American jazz with a French a cappella choir and continues her search for the perfect lindy hop venue in Paris.