When I first heard about Kodawari Ramen from Chopchick Jocelyn (of Chopchicks in Paris), I almost couldn’t believe what I was hearing. Had someone really opened a restaurant that was a replica of the famous Tsukiji fish market in Tokyo? The answer was yes, and even more surprisingly, there are two such restaurants in Paris now!
After the overwhelming success of his first restaurant in the Odeon area, Jean-Baptiste Meusnier opened a second location a hop, skip and a jump away from the Louvre. This was the location that we visited, one Sunday evening back in February. We didn’t actually plan to eat here as I had heard the queues were always quite large (and you can’t make a reservation) but we headed to the Opera area in search of bubble tea and stumbled across the restaurant by pure chance. People were queuing before the restaurant opened but with only 4 people in the queue, we seized the chance to tick this place off our Asian food bucket list.
After a short 20 minute wait, the doors were open and we were led inside. The staff began shouting something in Japanese. Unfortunately, I have no idea what is was but it really added to the authenticity of the setting! I couldn’t stop staring at everything, I felt like I had just stepped off the Parisian pavement and into the alleyways of Tokyo’s markets. Fish in boxes, nets, Japanese signs and even a large tuna fish on one of the tables, made up just some of the decoration inside the restaurant. The staff continued to shout quite regularly and a soundtrack (apparently recorded by Jean-Baptiste himself on one of his many trips to Tokyo) played in the background and included lorries passing, trucks being unloaded and even seagulls squawking! It really felt like we had been teleported to Japan.
Time to Eat!
Once we had gotten over the shock of the restaurant itself, it was time to decide what to eat. As you can probably guess from the name of this restaurant, Kodawari serves Ramen. And lots of it. We decided to try starters, but you should note that the ramen is huge so you probably don’t need them. We chose GYÔZA KODAWARI (two open raviolis with Sea Bream and a VERY spicy miso sauce). Not for the faint hearted! And TAI TAI DON (Sea bream with rice and a white sesame sauce). This was my personal favourite, the sea bream melted in your mouth and the sauce was delicious!
For our main courses we both had Ramen (obviously). The Frenchman had CHINTAN DE DAURADE ROYALE (Sea bream and chicken). I went for PAITAN DE DAURADE ROYALE ET LOTTE (Sea bream and pork). They always ask if you want spicy sauce in the dish or on the side. After our starters, we decided to play it safe and have it on the side!
I also ordered a homemade Japanese Sangria which was made from raspberry, pomegranate and Sancho pepper. It was a little strange and very sweet but is definitely something to try.
Room for Dessert?
Sadly not this time, but you hardly need it when you are eating up your surroundings (and after an enormous bowl of their delicious Ramen). After dinner, we continued to find quirky things in this unique restaurant, one of which was actually the toilet! As well as having a Japanese toilet (with all the crazy settings, including the wonderful seat-warmer), this toilet is equipped with a pay phone and an elevator! The restaurant really couldn’t be any more authentic.
So would I recommend it?
Wholeheartedly. We thoroughly enjoyed our experience at Kodawari Ramen and genuinely felt as though we were in Japan. The food was absolutely delicious and the service was impeccable. With so many trips being cancelled at the moment (including our own annual leave to Japan), this restaurant helps us all feel like we are travelling to new and exciting places, even when we can’t. I know it will be top of my list as soon as this is all over.
Stay safe, stay inside and dream of Ramen.