Orgasmic Dining and Living (in the City of Light)
Nobu Matsuhisa opened his first restaurant on La Cienega Boulevard in Beverly Hills the same year we moved to Los Angeles — 1987. It was just a tiny sushi bar with Nobu himself cutting the fish and almost always a wait to get a table of about 45 minutes, except at lunch when he offered a special deal for about $12.
It became a weekly ‘hot spot’ for my then husband and me, and for a lot of celebrities, too, who we often saw there. Linda Evans once leaned over to take something off the bar, wearing a powder-blue cashmere pants suit, brushing her breast against my husband’s back. I thought he was going to pass out from the look on his face of amazement and ecstasy. Gilda Radner and Gene Wilder were often there laughing it up — not long before she died of cancer in 1989.
Nobu’s experience living in Peru for a few years influenced his cuisine having to improvise for the lack of traditional Japanese ingredients. Success struck thanks to his signature hot dishes — my favorite being “Halibut Cheeks with Wasabi Pepper Sauce” and his incomparable sushi. Dining there was quite frankly, orgasmic.
Soon after, he took over the little Mexican restaurant next door and doubled the size of the restaurant. Then luck struck when Robert De Niro, one of his aficionados, partnered with him to open a restaurant in Tribeca in New York in 1993. We were still in Los Angeles at the time, but that was just the beginning of a chain of “Nobus” and “Matsuhisas” in Milan, London, Greece, Dallas, Tokyo, Honolulu, Moscow, Dubai, Mexico City, Budapest, Hong Kong…and now Paris.
A friend came to visit this past weekend who loves Japanese cuisine so I set out to find the best sushi in Paris. Matsuhisa popped up, having just opened at the Royal Monceau Raffles Hotel on avenue Hoche (number 37) in the 8th arrondissement, not far from the Arc de Triomphe. One New York friend ‘poo-pooed’ the idea — “Oh, Matsuhisa is so passé!” she said, obviously thinking that for her, this wasn’t anything special. For a few moments, I considered canceling the reservations, but boy, am I glad I didn’t take her advice!
The restaurant just opened about two weeks ago, much to my surprise. Nobu isn’t cutting the fish anymore, but Executive Chef Hideki Endo and his team of sushi masters are. The decor is magnificently understated and elegant, with areas of the room designated to both those who want to see-and-be-seen and other spots for more intimate dining. The open kitchen acts as a backdrop to the entire softly-lit warm, cozy scene. The spirit of the waitstaff is highly unusual as every time someone enters or leaves, something in Japanese, either welcoming or of a pleasant ‘good-bye,’ is lightly shouted out by all of the waiters and hosts. At first it will take you aback, but after a few outbursts, you may come to enjoy the happiness of it as we did.
Immediately, I asked our waiter if the Halibut Cheeks were on the menu. Unfortunately not, but his famous Black Cod is. We ordered up four different rolls, yellowtail sashimi with jalapeño and yuzu soy sauce, a salad of seared salmon with jalapeño dressing and of course, the Black Cod. A big bowl of Edamame, hot saki and home-made green iced tea was served us first before savoring every morsel and taking in the beautiful surroundings. It was every bit as orgasmic as I had remembered from the many meals in Los Angeles, as well as one time in his New York restaurant a few years ago.
When the bill came, it was even more of a pleasant surprise, with a check for about 95€ per person, a bargain considering all we had and the orgasmic quality! In fact, our meal at Matsuhisa was so impressive that I have almost forgotten to mention that…
The exhibition “L’Atelier en Plein Air les Impressionistes en Normandie” at the Musée Jacquemart-André is well worth a visit, as is their Salon du Thé for a light lunch…
Le Louvre was the busiest I’ve ever seen it on Easter Monday, an absolute swarm of humanity, particularly the new exhibition of Hubert Robert (1733–1808) A Visionary Painter if you like to see amazing perspectives of renditions of stone, stone and more stone…
A concert we attended at Eglise Saint-Roch by Gospel Dream was comical if you know what REAL gospel is like…no offense to the wonderful French voices who clearly have no soul and sing to an audience that has even less (with a wink)…
A trip to the Préfecture de Police to renew my daughter’s Carte de Résident was virtually fruitless, with each person providing different information, sending us to various offices and rooms, never being able to achieve anything in typical bureaucratic fashion…
And that all this is in the normal life of a Parisienne with way too many things to do that are simply orgasmic!
A la prochaine…
The Adrian Leeds Group
(at Matsuhisa, Paris)
P.S. Time to improve your French? I recommend the Institut de Français, a language school for adults offering true French immersion, set in the lovely fishing village of Villefranche sur Mer. Contact them today to arrange you language adventure!