Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Wada and La Bamba

A milestone - Mr. Oil and I went out for dinner BY OURSELVES - that's right folks, we have found a babysitter in Paris.  We knew we wanted sushi - but where to go?  Mr. Oil had been given a review of the "best Japanese restaurants in Paris" put out by a Franco-Japanese organization and after a thorough perusal of the options, we settled on...the one that was open in August.  So off to Wada we went. (To be fair, we did find several excellent reviews).

The place is small - only about six tables, and while we were there (at the very uncool and un-French hour of 7:30), we were the only people in the place. Our extremely friendly (and American) waiter is also the apprentice to the sushi chef, Hideo (didn't get the last name).  Every four seconds, this guy would explain that "Hideo makes the best.." or "Hideo has a special technique..." or "not everyone can do this like Hideo."  We did ultimately meet Hideo at the end of our meal - he is an elderly Japanese man, he must be around 70, and he's about 4'10".  But he does make a mean sushi. And his apprentice is mostly clearly enamored. We also learned that the rice is the key to differentiating good sushi from poser sushi.  To be honest, though - we still think rice mostly tastes like rice. Shhh - don't tell Hideo.

Our meals started with the two entrees of the day (important fact: in France, entree means appetizer) - a panko-crusted tofu and a carrot & radish salad.

Both were very pretty though to be honest we didn't love either one.  Then the real meal.  Mr. Oil went with a sushi assortment and I went with the sake nuta, which is (supposedly) a special technique mastered by Hideo in which the salmon are partially cooked with some sort of vapor of sake and served with a special secret sauce.

Again - beautiful plates.  It's fun to go with the special dish but to be honest, I wished I had just gotten sushi.  They were perfect.  The meal concluded with a bowl of homemade miso soup that was among the best I've had.  Our barometer for top sushi is Sushi Taro back in DC - I still savor the memory of our meal there in February.  We've always loved their miso soup and for me, this was just as good. Mr. Oil isn't willing to concede this but he agrees that it was much better than average.

And to make the most of the fact that we had the babysitter, we also decided to go up to Sacre Coeur in Montmartre for a beautiful view of Paris at dusk.
Sacre Coeur

It is really a spectacular view - you can see the old and the new, and you just get this very Parisian vibe. The early night air was perfectly temperate and while we saw a surprising number of kids and babies out at a late hour, ours was not one of them! And just to prove that I can be lame with the best of them, we even joined in with all the tourists sitting on the steps listening to a Mexican guitarist lead our motley English-speaking crew in singing "Hey Jude" and "La Bamba".  Much to Mr. Oil's chagrin, I insisted on singing loudly with the crowd.  I have no regrets.