Paris: Aida


Chef Koji Aida is a maestro of his art, a composer that beautifully orchestrates his menu around delicate flavours and creativity. He presents his take on refined Japanese cuisine in a virtuoso exercise of choosing the best local, seasonable ingredients and treating them with his steady hands and magical teppanyaki grill to the highest degree, while remaining simple and unpretentious.  Nothing is over-cooked, over-seasoned, or over-dramatized.
There is a single Omakase menu that features a beautiful rhythm of alternating pleasures – the balance of temperatures, textures and flavours, as well as the chromatic harmony of the full sequence. What’s more, by observing the choreography of the chef’s agile hands and by the modest portions of each distinctive dish, the senses are constantly kept awake and appetite stimulated from one dish to another. By the end of the meal, you would have realized that Chef Aida has managed to cover extensive ground with all types of fish, meat, and vegetables all woven into a perfect combination.
We started with a lovely Shabu-Shabu Pork that was cooked in a broth simmering in a pan on the grill.
While the first dish was subtle in flavor, the Veal Tartare next was a surprise with its unusual textures and flavours. It was cut to the thinnest slice possible, and topped with ponzu jelly. It was smooth, cold and slightly chewy, leaving a quite strange but deliciously lingering sensation in my mouth. I would have actually mistaken this for a raw fish sashimi of some sort actually, and the ponzu jelly was a smart twist to the traditional soy sauce.
And then we moved on to another soothing and hearty dish of Prawn and Scallop Roll in Kombu Broth. Watching Chef Aida taste and season the broth, ladeling a precise amount of broth over the prawn and scallop roll, and then meticulously preparing the dish itself, was simply a notable experience. I especially loved the comforting broth itself I could drink a whole bowl of it. (Second picture, right dish: My mum had a vegetarian version of Tofu and Mushrooms)
Uni, Scallop and Sea Bass Sashimi, probably the freshest you can find in Paris that each bite is an explosion of luxurious tastes in your mouth.
Mackerel Sushi
Prawn Tempura? Prawn Katsu? Not quite. It was prawn fried in some kind of thin batter that was almost in between that of a tempura and katsu. A sprinkle of salt at the end, and a drizzle of yuzu/lemon over the mayonnaise, are actions often overlooked but it is these little details that make each dish all the more flavorful and worth remembering about.
Pan-fried Cod with Mushrooms were cooked to perfection. Buttery and silky and again, watching Chef Aida prepare everything on that spotless and stainless steel griddle, gathering the perfect mound of each ingredient and finally plating so carefully and beautifully was mesmerizing.
Yam served cold. A refreshing transition to the real main course of the meal. 
Beef Tenderloin. Really tender and not heavily sauced, letting the natural flavors speak for itself. You really don’t need the additional sesame or ponzu sauce. The beef is cut into small bite-sized cubes, and you’ll eat them, without hesitating, just forgetting for a little while that you are actually eating a huge slab of meat and that you have had many courses leading to this. Alongside, the finely shredded cabbage and radish salad was fresh and just so refreshing.
We ended with Fried Rice with Truffles and Mushrooms, accompanied by Miso Soup and Pickles. Nothing fancy, just decadent enough to satisfy your stomach, and taste buds too of course.
Beetroot Sorbet to cleanse the palate.
And the finale was a Homemade Japanese Chestnut Cake.
Evidently, Aida has captured every aspect of Japanese cuisine that leaves indelible memories. The atmosphere is quiet and subdued, the service is discreet and efficient, or simply impeccable, the food is fresh and properly executed, light yet satisfying. Located on a quiet 7th arrondissement street in the shadows of the bustling Bon Marche department store, Aida is easy to miss and if you do, you’ll probably regret it.
1 Rue Pierre Leroux,
75007 Paris, France
Tel: +33 1 43 06 14 18
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