Japan is a nation of Francophiles, judging from the number of Pierre Herme shops in Tokyo that rivals those in Paris, to the disproportionately large representation of Japanese in the Office of Immigration & Integration awaiting their carte de sejour interviews. From the looks of it, the French are reciprocating some of the love in the mushrooming of French restaurants with Japanese inflections around Paris. For those with more traditional tastes however, there is also Rue St Anne, a Japanese food street located right smack in the centre of the city.
It was on Rue St Anne that I found myself on a blissfully warm April evening, slurping chilled udon with W after an apero at her hotel. But the road to cold noodle-y respite is not an easy one, so we had to wait patiently in-line for the other likeminded diners to finish up and exit the narrow 2 storey shop space. As we waited, we strategized our sitting plan, whether to sit on the counter facing the open kitchen or try to locate some street-facing seats. With W adamant not to descend into the claustrophobic basement, we edged into 2 window facing seats, clipped our bags between our legs (no hooks nor additional table space, and no way are we putting our leather bags on the greasy floor), we ordered and waited somemore.
The menu is short at this udon specialist, a mere dozen or so udon options, both hot and cold, with an accompanying card listing appetizers. Feeling decently hungry, we both got something to start, W’s tamagoyaki sufficiently dense and sugary while my onsen tamago had a molten center just the way I like it. We then plunged into our noodles, enjoying the sensation of the fat, toothsome wheat noodles, slick with wasabi-tinted sauce slithering down our throats. While my hiyashi udon (13 Euro) -cryptically named “zoo” in kanji-came only with inari and tempura flakes, W’s tenzaru udon (16 Euro) came with a good selection of fried tempura. She offered me a slice of deep-fried vegetable, which was light, crisp and relatively greaseless, a fair leg-up against your run-of-the-mill neighborhood Japanese joint.
For those looking for a more comfortable setting, Kunitoraya recently opened Kunitoraya 2, a much slicker and pricier version of the humble udon shop with an expanded menu.
39 Rue St Anne, 75001