In Japanese dumpling heaven

Fans of those spicy, addictive Japanese dumplings known as gyoza, should make a beeline for this modern, streamlined bar set in the historic Passage des Panoramas. Find a stool and settle into a mini-feast. Chefs Guillaume Guedi and Shinichi Sato of the Michelin two-star restaurant, Passage 53 nearby, have an instant hit on their hands, offering simplicity at its best with their yuzu zest and chile pepper-spiced wheat flour dumplings, filled with the succulent ground pork loin from star butcher Hugo Desynoyer. The dumplings are seared right in front of you in a touch of oil in customized cast iron pans, sprinkled with a touch of water, then steamed, so one side is golden and crunchy, the other soft and soothing. Dip the cresent-shaped goodies into a citrus-rich ponzo sauce touched with grapefruit and orange and your palate breaks into a smile: The contrast of textures, a touch of spice, a hit of citrus makes for one happy diner. The only other offerings here include a tiny bowl of bean sprouts laced with nutty sesame oil, and a simple serving of white rice. There’s both Yebisu and Kirin beer to wash it all down. The bar is efficiency personified, with excellent service from a trio of young Japanese women. The décor is pure, understated Japanese all wood, grey stone, and glass, a perfect contrast to the passage, with its charming patina of age.

GYOZA BAR,  56 passage des Panoramas, Paris 2. Tel: +33 1 44 82 00 62.Métro: Bourse and Grands Boulevards.Open: evenings only, 6-11 pm. Monday-Saturday. Closed Sunday. Dinner: 6€ for eight dumplings; carryout available.

Always dependable Chez George

Chez George Jambon Persille 10 11

It’s always a pleasure to return to a restaurant you’ve loved for decades and find it virtually unchanged. And maybe even better than one remembers. That’s Chez George, the dream bistro just off the Place des Victoires. I am not sure, but it may be the first true Parisian bistro I dined in back in the 1970’s. What I do know is that the menu remains unchanged, the quality is there, and especially the hussle bustle of the dining room. Well-coiffed waitresses all but skate through the aisles of this long, narrow dining room with its mirrored walls and gothic columns, effortlessly delivering giant bowls of herring; searingly hot, garlic-scented snails; bowls overflowing with curly frisée greens, rich chunks of bacon, and perfect poached egg. Everywhere, a feeling of abundance, generosity, and the sound of good times. The crowd is young, French, chic, and  the ochre-toned dining room easily brings one back in time. I loved the moist, parsley-rich jambon persillé (photo); the generous portion of tiny wild girolles mushrooms; the perfectly grilled sole; and moist and meaty steack de canard, paired with a mix of wild mushrooms. Desserts of profiteroles, tarte tatin, and millefeuille were just right. My only regret is that they were out of  their tarte au citron by the time I placed my order. For a bistro, the wine list is extensive. There are plenty of bargin wines at 29 euros a bottle (the fruity red Cotes Roannaise is an ideal bistro wine), and this is one restaurant that still offers wine “by the meter” charging you only what you have consumed from the bottle. Some good value wines here include Graillot’s Crozes Hermitage; Olivier Leflaive’s white Montagny; and Dagueneau’s Pouilly Fumé.

CHEZ GEORGE, 1, rue de Mail, Paris 2. Tel: +33 1 42 60 07 11.Métro: Bourse/Sentier. Closed Saturday and Sunday. 40 to 70 euros, not including beverages.

Saturne: a keeper

Squid, Ble Noir, Osyter Mousse Saturne

Too much ink has already been spilled over Saturne, one of a handful of current cult restaurants in Paris. Since the restaurant’s opening in September, much of the word has been negative and underwhelming, suggesting the place might have needed a softer opening. All I can say is that a recent lunch at the hands of young chef Sven Chartier (last seen at Racines) tells me this is a place that I am going to want to return to again and again. What we want today is fresh, inventive fare that is at once familiar and surprisingly new and Saturne delivers.

The blond wood decor and airy glass roof is warming, and service (despite a bit of confusion over a reservation)  is attentive and correct. Sven loves the mandolin, and everything from all manner of root vegetables to golden Comté cheese are sliced paper thin. The vegetables arrive as though they were lean, shiny sheets of colorful pasta, all the while guarding their integrity and flavor. Main courses, such as a moist cochon de lait and fat slices of codfish, were cooked to perfection. And there are some pleasing surprises, such as alabaster squid topped with a tiny buckwheat blinis and an effusive oyster mousse (photo).  I didn’t love the wine, a “natural” beverage, Domaine Valette's  Viré Clessé 2005. It had a maderized edge, no balance of fruit and acid, an added, alas, nothing to the experience. Desserts were a bit heavy,  with a thick brioche perdu  and  overly saturated baba au rhum. But I’d go back again and again just to sample baker Christophe Vasseur’s pain des amis, a vibrant, thick-crusted loaf with a bright and nutty flavor. (Boulangerie du Pain et des Idées,  34, rue Yves Toudic, Paris 10.)  At lunch time, snacks and wine are served at the bar near the entrance.

Saturne, 17, rue Notre-Dames des Victoires, Paris 2. Telephone : +33 1 42 60 31 90.  Métro Bourse. Closed Saturday and Sunday. 35 euro lunch menu, 37 euro dinner menu.