Hey Hey! I have a new address to share with you guys! This time, it’s kind of unexpected. “L’inconnu”, the italian restaurant, was created by japanese chef Koji Higaki, and that’s the reason it piqued my interest.
You all know my love for japanese cuisine, but I’m also a fan of italian dishes … it always brings back such fond memories of great travels.
Italy of the Rising Sun
I looked the chef up afterwards, and it seems he worked in Venice for a couple of years, as well as in “Passage 53”, a french restaurant with 2 Michelin stars – hence this surprising culinary mix!
Yet not so surprising when you think about it, for I noticed the japanese were very culinary-curious : in Tokyo, you can find a great number of restaurants with varying cosmopolitan influences.
Atmosphere-wise, it’s extremely minimalist (!) as soon as you step inside. No decoration or frames on the wall. The tableclothes are immaculate. There’s just a bouquet, set in the center of the room.
You like it or you love it, but it’s most certainly a conscious choice that serves to highlight what you’re going to be eating.
Anyway, even in such a bare ambiance, we felt at ease. Our waitress (the wife of Koki Higaki it seems) suggests the Chef’s unique menu and asks if we have any allergies or culinary preferences. We’re up for everything, and will eat anything, let’s do this!
As appetizer we had a carrot and curry creamy soup. It’s fresh and good, there’s nothing to say.
Carrott and curry creamy soup
Second appetizer: Quail eggs disguized as potatoes and a small green bean tart. Crispy on the outside with a potato batter and creamy on the inside with the soft boiled quail egg.
Quail eggs disguized as potatoes and a small green bean tart
Then comes the marjoram focaccia with mashed beans and pecorino cheese that will accompany us the whole meal. It’s light and crispy, and it was very hard to resist not finishing it all before the rest of the courses came along.
Marjoram focaccia with mashed beans and pecorino cheese
The starter is a candied white asparagus with a carbonara sabayon sauce : a mix of raw and cooked asparagus that once again puts emphasis on a contrast of textures, with the creaminess of the carbonara.
Candied white asparagus with a carbonara sabayon sauce
Then comes fish : fried cod with a mix of green peas and turnip. I’m totally seduced by how accomplished the dish is, the fish is perfectly cooked and I love the puffed rice that come add a surprising crunchy touch.
Fried cod with a mix of green peas and turnip
We continue with the meat dish : roasted guinea fowl with potatoes and wood garlic. The mix is perfect. You can really feel the japanese precision in how each dish is prepared.
Roasted guinea fowl with potatoes and wood garlic
We finish with a surprising game-changer: pasta is served last, as if to pay tribute to the italian cuisine. Sardine spaghettini, fennel and lemon. Italy in all it’s glory.
Sardine spaghettini, fennel and lemon
For dessert, we can choose between the citrus pavlova or the banana tiramisu. We opt for both! That way we can share both!
The destructured pavlova is a perfect way to end this meal lightly, with it’s jelly grapefruit bits and it’s crunchy meringue.
But I loooooved the banana tiramisu, that once again, comprises of a number of textures : caramelized banana, banana ice cream, chocolate bits and the traditional mascarpone. Amazing, refined and oh-so-yummy.
To sum it all up…
Taking a step back from the traditional checkered-tablecloth-italian-restaurant, Koji Higaki manages, with refined sobriety, to make us enjoy a japanese tinted dolce vita during a meal. Grazie … gozaimasu ! (English translation by Marine)
Lunch Menu 50€ (Starter, Fish, Meat, Pasta, Dessert)
or 38€ (same but you have to chose between meat and fish)
Italien restaurant L’INCONNU
by Chef Koji Higaki
4 Rue Pierre Leroux