Zen Restaurant located at 8, rue de l’Echelle of the 1er arrondisement is certainly one of the more authentic Japanese restaurants in Paris. Zen is located close to rue Sainte-Anne which is ubiquitously known as the Japanese haven in Paris (That being said, while there are many Japanese restaurants along rue Saint-Anne, most of them are over-priced or are actually managed by Chinese/Vietnamese).
When Chee told me that Zen was awarded with ‘bib gourmand’ in the Michelin guide, I decided to give it a go. If you go there for lunch, the menu is a bit shorter and cheaper than during dinner. When Chee and I crave Japanese cuisine, Zen is where we head to. Sushi, sashimi, ramen, and the list goes on.
In Chee’s opinion, the ramen served in Zen is one of the best in Paris! What distinguishes Zen’s ramen is the richness of its broth (choice between shoyu – soy sauce and miso styles) and the perfectly cooked chewy texture of the noodles. In order to savour the noodles like how the Japanese do, we are supposed to pick up the noodles with chopsticks, slurp the noodles while taking a breath in. As ramen is supposed to be eaten while it’s piping hot (i.e. noodles stay chewy), the combination of slurping and breathing in helps to cool the noodles. If you get the chance to sit beside a group of Japanese in the restaurant, do not be surprised by the loud slurping next to you. We once sat next to 4 Japanese ladies that had no qualms about slurping their noodles and made quite a bit of noise doing so.
Lunch menus vary from 10€ for a bowl of ramen accompanied with gyoza or Japanese curry served with rice or 25€ for a complete meal served with 2 small appetizers, a plate of sashimi (5-6 pieces), miso soup, a main dish from a list of 5 items (e.g. Karaage – Japanese fried chicken, Tonkatsu – deep fried pork cutlet) and a scoop of ice-cream in typically Japanese flavours of green tea, black or white sesame.
We were at Zen for dinner this time round and there was a wide selection of ‘à la carte’ items or different set menus.
Chee chose the Tanpopo combo: miso ramen accompanied by Tonkatsu (or gyozas).
Craving sushis, I ordered a plate of mixed sushi as well as black cod with miso. A small appetizer and miso soup was served along with the mix sushi.
From the photo, you can see how fresh the sushi was and it was oh so yummy!
As a side dish: Aubergine with miso was served with 2 types of miso, Akamiso (赤みそ）or ‘red’ miso and Shiromiso (白みそ）or ‘white’ miso.
We have been back to Zen several times and have yet to be disappointed. Zen has become our Japanese canteen🙂 (*Do save space for dessert. We stuffed ourselves this time round on the savoury items and had absolutely no space for dessert).
Tip: For lunch time, they only take reservations from 12 to 12.30pm. After that window, tables are on a first-come, first-served basis and it gets crowded.