Bento sightseeing in Paris, France (yes, really)

Those of you who follow me on Just Hungry may know that for the past few weeks I’ve been wandering around France and Switzerland, looking for a new place to call home. One leg of those travels took me to Brittany (Bretagne), of which I’ll talk about sometime soon on Just Hungry. From there the plan was to go to Strasbourg, en route back to Zürich to take care of some business. But those plans fell through, so I ended up spending 3 short days in Paris. (If you look at a map, Paris is a good midpoint stopover en route from Brittany to Zürich.)

Yes I know, Paris does not say Japanese Food Mecca to most people. In fact, it really isn’t (I believe that you can get better Japanese food, at least in high end restaurants, in New York or Los Angeles). However, there is a sizeable expat population there, not to mention hordes of Japanese tourists. So there are a fair number of decent Japanese restaurants, not to mention grocery stores and such there. I’ll report on these soon on Just Hungry, but today I’ll like to show you some…Paris bentos!

There is an area around the 1st and 2nd arrondissements (on the Right Bank of the Seine, near the Louvre, Opera and such places), which is a sort of Japantown. Almost every restaurant there pretends to be Japanese. I do say “pretends” to be, since many don’t actually seem to be run by Japanese people. That doesn’t mean they are necessarily bad, but - well, they could be. (We had sushi at a place that was distinctly not Japanese, and were not impressed to put it mildly. On the other hand, we went to a ramen place that was also not Japanese, which was actually not too bad.)

One establishment that is very Japanese is Jujiya (十時や)The name means “Ten o’clock store”, because their store hours are from 10AM to 10PM (except for Sundays, when they close at 9PM). While they have a small grocery store in the back, their main business is bentos and osouzai (お惣菜), or prepared foods. It’s rather like a middling konbini (convenience store) in Japan; for an expat Japanese, it’s a slice of home.

They display a few plastic models of their bentos in the window. Here’s the ebi furai (breaded fried shrimp) bento model. You can also see the prices of some of the other bentos on the small card to the right. Of course, it’s in French and Japanese!

parisbento-1.jpg

Here are a couple more bento models:

parisbento-2.jpg

Essentially, you choose the main item - ebi furai, tonkatsu, hambaagu (Japanese hamburger steak), chicken tsukune and so on. Then you choose three sides. Together with white rice, the bentos cost around 7 to 10 Euros, and you can eat in or take out. Not a bad deal for Paris really. You can buy your bottle of green tea or can of Calpis there too to round out your meal.

So, how do the real bentos look like? Here’s a tonkatsu bento, with a bean sprout salad, stewed kiriboshi daikon (dried daikon radish) and potato salad. The tonkatsu meat was a bit overcooked and dry - probably because it wasn’t freshly cooked, but the sides were surprisingly good. (The ladies behind the counter at Jujiya dole out the sides with an ice cream scooper, which I thought was a good idea. They also use little cupcake-divider cups as you can see.)

parisbento-3.jpg

Here’s a chicken tsukune bento, with stewed hijiki (no tofu), stewed okara (called u no hana; I haven’t posted a recipe for this yet, but I will!) and potato salad again. The tsukune were a tad sweet, but not bad at all.

parisbento-4.jpg

(Note: While the bentos at Jujiya were not bad, their onigiri, priced at 2.20 EUR each, were exceedingly mediocre.)

For my Japanese-origin tummy, rather exhausted from all the pastries and delicious cultured butter and crême fraiche consumed in Brittany, these bentos were a much needed break. If you get a sudden craving for a bento in Paris…well, you know where to go now!

Paris Bento-ya

These are places that do warm takeout bentos; there are many restaurants where you can eat in makunouchi bento lunches and such. All seem to be run by Japanese people according to Japanese expat blogs and the like, for what it’s worth.

Jujiya
46 rue Sainte-Anne
75002 Paris
Tel: 01 42 86 02 22
Metro: Pyramides
Open 10:00 - 22:00 every day except Sunday, when it closes at 21:00.
Sells prepared foods (osouzai), bento sets for eating in or takeout. Small grocery store section in back.
Fast Don
52, rue des Petits-Champs (diagonally across the street from the Kioko grocery store)
75001 Paris
Tel: 01 4296 8624
Open 7 days (?) 12:00 - 15:00 for lunch; 17:00 - 23:00
At lunchtime this is a ‘Japanese fast food’ place that serves donburi (rice bowls) and such; also has takeout prepared food (osouzai) and bentos. At night time it turns into an izakaya.
Momonoki
68 Passage Choiseul
75002 Paris
Tél: 01 4296 4837
French and Japanese website
Open M-F, 12-14:30; closed holidays
A tonkatsu and fried stuff (korokke etc.) restaurant that offers takeout bentos; bento menu is fixed and changes every day. Delivers within Paris. Operated by the same people who own Workshop Issé.

Update

I’ve posted a report on non-bento mostly Japanese frugal eats over on Just Hungry.

For more bento recipes, ideas and tips, subscribe to Just Bento via your newsreader or by email (more about subscriptions).

And visit our sister site, Just Hungry for great Japanese home recipes and more.

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Re: Bento sightseeing in Paris, France (yes, really)

I knew very little about Japanese food, or how to find the good stuff, when I lived in Paris. I remember having sushi 1 time while there that was an [expensive] waste of time, though I had a good giggle at "cheesemaki" on the menu. I'm glad to know that if I'm ever there again with a hankering for decent Japanese, I'll have a better sense of where to look. Thanks for this post! The tsukune look so tasty, I wish I had some right now!

Re: Bento sightseeing in Paris, France (yes, really)

It's funny how, once you're aware of something (ie, bento) it follows you around everywhere. When I visited Japan from Hawaii, I found myself running into random stores selling Aloha Shirts!

The ice cream scoop is how they dole out rice and mac salad at the plate lunch places here.

Re: Bento sightseeing in Paris, France (yes, really)

After driving around for days on end, any one of those bentos would have been a welcome sight, yum !!!
While travelling in the most remote and inhospitable places or Paris; one sometimes come upon a miracle oasis "food from home" ^_^.
Do they have them " green seaweed salads " ?

Balifly

Re: Bento sightseeing in Paris, France (yes, really)

I will try to check that jujiya place the next time I go to Paris. The last time I went I had Japanese food and it was really bad...

Re: Bento sightseeing in Paris, France (yes, really)

Do keep in mind this is not fine dining...it's really a fast food or sandwich alternative! In that context, it wasn't bad at all (as proof, i had their bento for 2 dinners running! OK I was also on a tight budget...)

Re: Bento sightseeing in Paris, France (yes, really)

海外のお友達に弁当を見せたくてウロウロしててこのサイトを見つけました。
パリに日本のお弁当を売っているお店があるんですね…でも、ちょっと割高???
ファンになっちゃいました。また来ます。あ、日本語でいいですか?
can I commenting you in Japanese?

Re: Bento sightseeing in Paris, France (yes, really)

コメントありがとうございます。日本語で大丈夫ですよ ^_^ 確かに日本に比べたら割高ですが、ヨーロッパの日本食にしてはまあまあリーズナブルかなと思いました。

(trans: Compared to konbini bentos in Japan the ones at Jujiya are expensive, but in a Japanese food in Europe context I thought the prices were fairly reasonable.)

Re: Bento sightseeing in Paris, France (yes, really)

Merci pour toutes ces bonnes adresses françaises !! J'en connais déjà certaines mais je ne vais pas tarder à tester les autres !!
Merci ^^

Re: Bento sightseeing in Paris, France (yes, really)

any chance you know of bento places in Germany? Specifically, Bavaria. I live in Bamberg & figure it never hurts to ask.

Re: Bento sightseeing in Paris, France (yes, really)

I don't know of any in Bavaria, though I guess München would be the logical place. My next Japanese-destination-in-Europe investigative trip will be to Düsseldorf though (not Bavaria I know!), where there is a bonafide Japantown, to see what they do bento- and otherwise. :)

Re: Bento sightseeing in Paris, France (yes, really)

The next time you're in town I would recommend these other Japanese, though not bento-ya, retaurants:

Toraya - tea salon with excellent light lunches (prix fixe for a multi course meal) and desserts.
10, Rue St-Florentin

Kunitoraya - the best udon and soba in town (noodles prepared in house). The little sides are good too. They only accept cash, and be prepared to wait in line (this is an extremely rare sight in France as no one tolerates waiting for a table).
39, rue Sainte Anne

Both these restaurants are owned and waited on by Japanese (or those who speak Japanese). A good place to escape to if one tires of the non-stop butter-sugar fest in the City of Lights.

Bon Appétit!

Re: Bento sightseeing in Paris, France (yes, really)

Hello Maki!!!

Greetings from Melbourne, Australia!

I have been following your lovely blog for awhile now. I am a Malaysian Chinese girl, who lives and works in Melbourne and adores Japanese cuisine. Just last December, my family and I went to Hokkaido and I went mad collecting as many out-of-this-world Kit Kat flavours I could find!!!! (the famed Hokkaido potato one was simply amazing!!!!!! SALTY Kit Kat-who knew it could taste so good!!!) I also finally got to indulge in a fabulous kaiseki envoloped in a gorgeous yukata :) Hokkaido was just amazing and I'm not only just talking about her food!

I just wanted to say that luckily for me, Japanese food is in abundance here in foodie haven Melbourne. We've also got specialist Japanese grocery stores where I get my fix of 1 litre mirin, organic miso paste, my favourite frozen Kame-age udon and the essential ingredient to make mentaiko (unfortunately, I do not know what the proper term to call those fish eggs in Japanese!). From the famed Nobu to izakayas to my local, quaint Japanese cafe Zipang, we Melburnians are certainly a spoilt bunch.

Hopefully, one day you can come visit and do a write up on Melburnian Japanese food :)

PS: Because of you, I am hooked on bentos. I've always taken left-overs to work but I normally just toss them over some jasmine rice in a tupperware. I am now trying to "beautify" my lunch boxes and went nutters in DAISO (there are branches in Singapore and Malaysia - 2 Singaporean dollars and 5 Malaysian Ringgit per item) getting bento decorating items :)

PPS: You don't have a special mentaiko recipe you use yourself? I've yet to find one that is simple and mouth watering :) Thank you!

Re: Bento sightseeing in Paris, France (yes, really)

That was a nice touch for them to put the sakura cut outs behind the bentos! Your blog has made me a bento snob... the ones at the shop do not look as appetizing. That's awesome that you can find bentos in Paris!

Re: Bento sightseeing in Paris, France (yes, really)

Who knew you could find Japanese bentos in France? That's fantastic!
Also thank you for putting my book (Hawai`i's Bento Box Cookbook) on your Amazon "Bento things I like". I really appreciate it! :)

Re: Bento sightseeing in Paris, France (yes, really)

Hello,

If you want to go to a excellent and "real" japanese restaurant in Paris, go to Foujita. The people who run this restaurant are japanese, even the customers are japanese. The food is absolutly delicious!! There are 2 of them in the same neighborood, they are run by the same familly.

Foujita 2
7, Rue du 29 Juillet
75001 Paris

and

Foujita 1
41 rue Saint Roch,
75001 Paris

Re: Bento sightseeing in Paris, France (yes, really)

The really funny thing is that i had my first taste of japanese food in paris. I live in england and was visiting a friend who was working there for a while, and we were siteseeing and hungry, and she fancied japanese... so we found a really nice little resturant. Well, from there i've developed a big interest in japanese food and culture- lol its how i got here!

Re: Bento sightseeing in Paris, France (yes, really)

I happened on this page while looking for places in Paris that offer bentô.

As written above, most Nihonryôri are run by Chinese people (no offense, it doesn't mean they should necessarily taste bad), and few people are prepared to pay for upscale, kaiseiki Nihonryôri. Hence the hundreds of cheap sushi/maki places.

Here's a list of about one hundred, acceptable Nihonryôri
http://www.jipango.com/jipango/no9/html/japon_paris_no09.html

FYI, most Japanese companies are located in area close to the Opera, and the upscale areas in Paris are 5-8th and 16th, which explains why the better Nihonryôri are mostly located there.

Re: Bento sightseeing in Paris, France (yes, really)

Hello - do you know where I can buy a good rice cooker in Paris ? I mean for a serious rice eater :)

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