La Défense isn’t exactly the kind of place that brings to mind good food. The sky-scraper laden business district west of Paris is pretty much only used by the worker bees during the day. But earlier this month I went to see a movie at La Défense’s new UGC Ciné Cité theatre, and got there early enough to catch a bite.
The cinema is in the Quatre Temps commercial center, a mall I’d never really looked at before. Now maybe it was because of the new cinema complex, but the food court was actually not bad at all, very bright and contemporary, with a good selection of restaurants and cafés, a juice bar, a Starbucks, and one of those funky conveyor-belt sushi bars, Yo! Sushi.
It’s kind of its own island, a little raised area below the escalators leading to the cineplex. There was actually a long line of people waiting to be seated in the little booths. My friend and I ended up sitting with two French girls so we wouldn’t have to wait longer.
Some of these look like they’ve gone around the block a few times.
The booths surround the conveyor belt where Jetson-style colored plates of sushi with little plastic domes pass by the diners. You can either take the dishes from the belt, or order things directly off the menu (there’s even a button on the table to call the waiter, like on airplanes). The table is quite efficient (for France, anyway), with both still and fizzy water dispensers, and all of the necessary sushi condiments.
Free still and fizzy water! What a concept…
Some of the food was great, some was kinda mediocre. The desserts on the conveyor belt definitely looked like they needed to retire. The service was also a bit slow, even with aforementioned button. Not cool considering most of us (we noticed later) were en route to the cinema. At the end of your meal, you add up the price of each color-coded plate — plus any additional drinks — to get your total bill. If it’s a bit steep, you can try and stick a few of the empty plates back on the conveyor belt. Just don’t mention my name when the sushi chef chases you down with his big knife.
My guinea pig for the evening (aka Alexis) tries to smile while eating his noodles (just kidding; they were actually good).
Overall opinion? Don’t be in a hurry, and don’t go for the gourmet possibilities. Go for the fun and novel way to eat. Go when you’re not in a hurry. Go when it’s your turn to buy dinner for someone who drinks a lot of fizzy water.