Ken Kawasaki, Paris, 3/23/18

exteriorKen Kawasaki is a small place with just 13 seats around a low u-shaped counter that frames the kitchen.  Ken Kawasaki is the Japanese chef that opened the place and still is in charge of the menu but he is rarely there in person as he is usually in Japan.  Staffing is sparse, as it appeared that the assistant chef also was responsible for washing dishes and helping serve.  The greeter/waiter also helped with serving and clearing.  It was impressive what they could accomplish with so little staff, but it felt odd that they still merited  receiving one Michelin star.  The service was helpful, efficient and provided good pacing for the menu however their command of English was variable.  

in the window
in the window

I also found the noise from their convection oven annoying as it roared much of the meal and then would cut out abruptly when they opened it to remove or put something inside.  They did have purse boxes, as opposed to stools, which defeats the purpose of having your purse closer but does give you a place to stow your stuff if you have something with you.  Beat music is in the background and the place is really well-lit, a bit too bright for me but nice for photos.  Large cloth napkins are at each place setting as well as flatware and chopsticks.  Light wood, stainless steel and white cabinets add to the brightness as does a large window to the street.  Everyone is served the one of two tasting menus (they vary in number of courses) and guests had staggered arrivals to allow the 2 chefs to only have to prepare 4 plates at a time.  Pairings include saki as well as wine and wine pours are weighed before serving; we ordered our own wine.  The food is precise but I found it a bit soulless.

 

menu cover
menu cover
menu
menu
interior
interior
Frankie found a plant
Frankie found a plant
wine
wine
purse box
purse box

 

A duck confit was served with a charred polenta coating.  It had a black garlic sauce and was quite meaty but mostly mildly flavored.

Canard, ail noir, polenta
Canard, ail noir, polenta
closer
closer
inside
inside
Frankie got a kick out of the named water
Frankie got a kick out of the named water

 

Marinated mackerel was plated with Japanese saki foam, bergamot jelly and seasonal vegetables including asparagus and white dandelion and topped with orange powder.  This did include some strong flavors that blended nicely with the dressing.  It was good.

Maquereau, asperge verte, bergamote
Maquereau, asperge verte, bergamote
detail
detail

 

Bread was warmed and served by the half slice.  It was good but that varied depending on how freshly it was cut.  It was a dense brown bread with a good crust.

bread
bread
Frankie checked out the hand towels
Frankie checked out the hand towels

 

Lobster soup was mixed with celery root, Japanese shiitake mushroom and Kaffir lime.  It smelled really good and the lobster broth was a winner.  The mushrooms were meaty and moist and loaded with flavor.

Bouillon de homard, Shitaké, Céleri rave, combava
Bouillon de homard, Shitaké, Céleri rave, combava
closer
closer
Frankie noticed the counter filled
Frankie noticed the counter filled

 

Turbot was plated with artichoke, leek, clams and powder of green tea oil.  Green tea was also in the broth.  It was very mild and quite light.

presentation
presentation
add broth
add broth
Turbot, artichauts, thé vert sencha
Turbot, artichauts, thé vert sencha
closer
closer
Frankie thought the shape of the knife was interesting
Frankie thought the shape of the knife was interesting

 

Veal filet topped with marinated wasabi was covered with black sheets made of Japanese seaweed and served alongside Jerusalem artichoke.  The meat was very tender and the artichoke mildly flavored.  The seaweed sheets gave the dish some textural contrast but the black sheets on a black plate was visually unappealing.

Filet mignon de veau, wasabi, algue
Filet mignon de veau, wasabi, algue
closer
closer
closer
underneath
Frankie explored the chopstick rest
Frankie explored the chopstick rest

 

Dessert was roasted quince with cheese ice cream and crispy comté cheese on top.  A mousse from mescal added to the dish along with some almond-caramel and white chocolate crumbles.  It was a good variation of textures and tastes – sweet and crisp.  I really enjoyed the cheese ice cream.  When the ingredients were eaten together they were better than when eaten individually.

Coing, comté, poivre Madagascar
Coing, comté, poivre Madagascar
other side
other side
another side
another side
from the top
from the top
Frankie wanted a bite
Frankie wanted a bite

 

Last treats were orange marshmallows that were quite mild, white chocolate caramel macaroons which were okay and milk chocolate praline candies that were definitely the best.

Mignardises
Mignardises
inside
inside
coffee
coffee
Frankie admired the sugar display
Frankie admired the sugar display

 

 

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