Years ago, chef Joël Robuchon told me that his trips to Japan greatly influenced his own personal style of cuisine. He felt that the French and the Japanese shared a great sensibility and respect for food, showing special consideration for flavors, colors, textures, presentation. Today in Paris, diners can see how intensely Japanese-born chefs are responding to that shared awareness. Many --- like Akihiro Horihoshi at La Table d’Aki and Shinichi Sato at Passage 53 – have worked in some of the finest kitchens in Europe. Chef Takayuki Honjo ---with a CV that includes Astrance, Noma, and Le Mugartiz – joins the club with his tiny, quiet, all-white, angelic, monastic dining room, ES, on rue de Grenelle on the Left Bank. The dining room staff includes an Italian, a French, a Japanese, making this an international scene. Taka’s food is beautiful in every sense of the word. I feel as though he has been immensely influenced by Pascal Barbot’s food at Astrance, just across the Seine. But he’s not a copycat. And his flavors are direct and forthright, not a slammer but a gentle tap. One of the best dishes sampled at his table was a roasted guinea fowl (pintade), teamed up with a delicate and colorful green pool of spinach cream, a shower of perfectly cooked autumn girolles (chanterelles), and the tiniest, most flavorful sautéed baby new potatoes, the size of an olive. But the crowning glory came in the way of a soothing hazelnut cream, applied like a palate knife to the plate, a nutty luxury that unified the entire dish. A creation triumphant in its simplicity and clarity of flavors. I would be proud to make and serve his caramelized codfish, and loved the idea of his cream of corn soup, flavored with a jasmine essence. Dessert almost hit the ball out of the park: A delicate, tiny meringue shell was filled a sweet, fruity poached peach, topped with a peach sorbet (too forcefully flavored with almond extract), and set in a pool of soothing, bright pink, peach jelly. Crusty country bread from baker Jean-Luc Poujauran, and wines from a favored winemaker, Simon Bize in Burgundy, all add to the pleasure. The restaurant name is a translation of the Freudian “ID,” meaning, the component of personality at birth that is the source or our wants, desires, impulses, and drives. So use your “ID” and go to “ES.”
91, rue de Grenelle,
Tel: +33 1 45 51 25 74
OPEN: Tuesday to Saturday.
CLOSED: Sunday & Monday.
PRICE: 55€ fixed menu at lunch; 75€ and 105€ fixed menu weekday dinners. 105€ fixed menu Saturday dinner. No à la carte menu.