all photos by Margaux Grossman
By luck of the draw – I had already planned to have lunch at Kei Kobayashi’s before the Japanese maestro won his first Michelin star this year. Dining in Paris has gotten more exciting this year with the addition of Kei to the roster of divine Parisian restaurants. As a student of Ducasse, Piège and Moret, Kobayashi is known for bringing together the finesse of Asian cuisine and the strong tastes of local French dishes – this, obviously just reeled me in more.
Edens Garden, color galore!
With a purposefully plain exterior: you would never think to stop in when walking by Kei. Once having entered the unimaginative and immaculately white dining room, it becomes hard to imagine that you would be served beautifully plated and colorful dishes.
For an appetizer, we start with a granita (sorbet) that smoothly caresses our palette, a mini black olive loaf to die for, and a bread and butter combo sporting the Kei name: OK, I’m starting to understand…
Except, no…It’s unbelievable. Oh no, seriously?! It can’t be true. No, but look! It is! In this next spectacularly plated dish resembling Eden’s Garden with its delicate feminine touches, Joël Thiebaut’s vegetables are presented solely with their natural beauty – delicately sliced with sublime precision alongside a cube of beech tree wood smoked salmon, lemon mousse and arugula emulsion.
Truffles, what’s not to love?
Following the unforgettable trip to Asia, the local French flavors make their appearance with style and grace: a soft tempura-style artichoke beignet, exceptional gnocchi blanketed by a Parmesan emulsion, served with Iberian ham and a healthy serving of black truffles. Bravo Kei, you already seduced me before even having been served the first plate – now take it easy.
As for the sea bass, its smoked eel broth and almond emulsion really came together to create a moment of perfection. Let alone with a glass of Puligny-Montrachet 2011 and the last drops of my glass of De Sousa blanc de blanc (champagne), I was so blown away that I wanted to call my mom to gush over the whole experience.
Creativity + good taste
Now, for dessert…I went with the fruit and meringue duo that thankfully didn’t have me undoing my belt. Okay, it really all came together at this moment. I’m not kidding, its fruit vacherin (cream cake) literally had me at a loss for words.
Hallelujah, it was thanks to my lucky stars that I found Kei with its much deserved Michelin Star: I left with the overwhelmingly pleasant feeling that only a chef that truly respects and concentrates 100% on his produce’s quality feels. In any case, if it was up to me, I would have given him every star in the sky.
Speaking as a chick that runs at least 50 kilometers each week to balance her guilty glutton pleasures…
We are pleased to have a partnership with Margaux Grosman who wrote this review, she is a well-known French food blogger, TV & Youtube host, life style journalist, food consultant, copywriter and founder of www.amasauce.com.