Japanese restaurants keep popping up through the streets of Paris. But if you are looking for a French-Japanese cuisine that is gastronomic, modern and daring at the same time, stop everything since we found the new address that manages to make the difference and that will likely become our new HQ!
In the lively rue Caumartin, just behind the Olympia, AO was created back in early August 2017.
Once the threshold has been crossed, we discover a very lovely place both modern and luminous with a few spots of blue referring to the restaurant name (“AO” means “Blue” in Japanese).
First, the open-plan kitchen set up in the entrance attracts gourmet passersby. There’s then the first dining room on the ground floor with a small corner enhanced by a sake collection. Created by Japanese interior designer Kunihiko Takano (KT Architect), AO setting highlights wood and displays it under various shapes both graphic and geometric.
Finally, the dining room upstairs pays tribute to color by revealing incredible shades of indigo-blue.
In the kitchen, the renowned Japanese chef, Yasuo Nanaumi. He notably worked at the Moulin de Mougins, the Maison d’Amérique Latine and even at Lucas Carton. Now he works at AO and shows his talents, know-hows and skills to offer a gastronomic, sophisticated and delicious cuisine. Highlighting the best French-Japanese pairings, this cuisine surprises both our taste buds and our pupils.
At lunchtime, AO Izakaya bets on a more affordable and faster cuisine thanks to the clever Bento system. Very generous, this meal has a delicious Miso soup, warm and cold dishes and rice.
Meat lovers will gladly give a go to the Box Gyu based on beef with Teriyaki sauce, sashimi, sushi, maki, tempura and Tsukemono.
As for me, I go for the Bento Shake with a perfectly cooked Red Label salmon and its tasty Teriyaki sauce, sashimis, sushis and tuna and salmon makis, shrimp and vegetables tempura and Tsukemono.
Also on the lunch menu? Classic sushis – California roll, king shrimp tempura, asparagus and spicy mayonnaise – and sashimis (tuna, Red Label salmon…), without forgetting the Chef’s suggestion. This day, the chef cooked a starter based on duck with broccolis, grapefruit, avocado and tomato followed by a meal made of Red Label salmon and its Teriyaki sauce, served with diced potatoes and sweet potatoes.
In terms of dessert, we literally melt for THE Japanese specialty of the restaurant: an exquisite cherry blossom and red bean mochi with its green tea ice cream and fruits (watermelon, melon and grapes).
In the evening, the atmosphere and the concept change with cold and warm tapas to share (salmon carpaccio flavored with yuzu and half-cooked beef sirloin Tataki and its sweet and sour sauce with vinegar).
Many patrons enjoy going to AO for dinner for the famous “Omakase” menu. This “Carte Blanche” gastronomic menu is thoroughly prepared by the Chef and served in the form of 6 courses (3 starters, 2 mains – a fish and a meat – and 1 dessert). For example, let yourself be seduced by the starters offering tuna and marinated vegetables, or what about the duck foie gras with sesame and Kabocha sauce (a Japanese pumpkin), or this shrimp tempura flavored with red beetroot. The proof of this successful French-Japanese cuisine is this half-cooked chocolate cake and its matcha heart (available only at dinnertime).
Regarding ingredients, AO bets on quality. For example, the meat comes from Maison Metzger, the salmon is a Red Label, the vegetables are organic. The rest of the products are directly imported from Japan, spices and alcohols in the first place.
Let’s talk about the alcohols. AO offers a list of ten varieties of sake to taste. We tasted the excellent fizzy Mio sake traditionally produced with rice, water and Koji.
Another specialty of the restaurant? The Shochu, stronger than sake, or the many bottles of whiskies from the Maison Suntory.
No need to say that AO is now one of our favorites. Whether you go there for lunch or dinner, you will definitely experience a very tasty culinary journey!
AO Izakaya (website in French)
12 rue Caumartin, 75009 Paris
Lunch from 12 p.m. to 2:30 p.m. (except on Saturday and Sunday)
Dinner from 6:30 p.m. to 11 p.m. (except on Sunday)
Privatization up to 65 guests
Phone: +33 (0)1 42 65 31 53
Alcohol abuse is bad for your health, please consume in moderation.
12 Rue de Caumartin
75009 Paris 9