Tuesday, December 26, 2017

Zébulon Palais Royal (Paris, FRANCE) ★★★☆☆

Paris loves their Japanese chefs. Perhaps this could explain the growing number of new generation Japanese chefs who have arrived in the food capital of the world to master their French cooking.

There are a lot of amazing Japanese chefs who have received critical acclaims for their brand of French cuisine in Paris. That list is headed by Shinishi Sato (Passage 53) and Kei Kobayashi (Restaurant Kei) who made a name for themselves in a place which has normally been difficult for foreign chefs. I have also heard great things about chef Takashi Aoki who helms the kitchen at Zébulon Palais Royal, which is the reason why we're here tonight.

Zébulon's tasting menu is one of the most talk-about ones in the city. 

We went with their 3-course menu Zébulon (€45) because everyone wanted to crash early tonight. Starting things off was our amuse bouche, cream cheese topped with pistachio powder and puff rice. It was served with a small salad and Japanese radish on the side.

The first thing that stood out from chef Aoki's cuisine was his bold choice of ingredients. Take my starter as an example. The cauliflower velouté was nicely paired with prawns, chorizo cream and dried grapes. There were also different textures of cauliflower in play. Not bad. 

Our second starter was scallop tartare served with burnt Chinese cabbage, pink berries, lemon cream and quince vinegar. There was a fair amount of acidity there which was offset by a fairly flavorful cress and leek foam.

Next up was slow cooked cod fish with clams, pickled seaweed, daikon and leeks. I thought this was a little less tasty than the two starters. The shellfish foam in particular was a bit of a misfire (lacking flavors and overpowered by the leeks).

The roller coaster ride continued with our second main dish. This was a pretty busy dish with the guinea fowl as the centerpiece and chanterelle mushrooms, chicken purée, celery and cheese crumble in a supporting role. But the guinea fowl was a bit on the hard side and the cheese crumble way too cheesy for the rest of the ingredients.

Our first dessert was another dish full of various ingredients with contrasting textures and flavors.

In the middle of the action were pieces of soft chocolate cakes, which worked reasonably well with the white chocolate cream with anise, caramelized jerusalem artichokes, streusel and blackcurrant sorbet. Personally, I won't mind having less acidity in there so trading the blackcurrant sorbet with a scoop of salted caramel ice-cream would have been perfect but this one was pretty decent.

We were equally pleased with the second dessert which featured sliced pear, quince jelly, chestnut cream and pear with Gewurztraminer wine sorbet.

As expected, chef Aoki's cuisine looked rather different from most main-stream bistro food in the city. There were some hit and miss but for the most part, we like the concept.

Food Rating: 5.5/10
Price: €€€
Address: 10 Rue de Richelieu, 75001 Paris, France
Closest Metro Station: Palais Royal Musee du Louvre
Tel: +33 (0)1 4236-4944
Website: www.zebulon-palaisroyal.com

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