La Table d’Aki, Paris | London Eater


You’d think he would have got tired of the fish section after 20 odd years manning it for the great Bernard Pacaud at L’Ambroisie, but evidently not, as here is Aki san going strong at least 5 years now with his solo gig doing only fish.

Akihiro Horikoshi is the Chef, and you could speculate about his Japanese sensibilities, AKi san’s Shokunin spirit that mastery of one’s craft is a life long mission and perfection is but the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow.

He pursues excellence in craft under the most romantic circumstance – with the emphasis on solo gig, being a literal one. Aki san preps his MEP, cooks, cleans and generally minds his kitchen alone, with only one other FOH on the floor. He pops in his favourite classical tracks (into his CD player) when guests arrive for service and cooks every piece of fish la minute on hot pans. He chooses to work only with noble wild fish, and really this is the dream.

I have wanted to go here for at least a couple of years now, but somehow couldn’t manage it till this Spring. Since the first visit in April, I tell you, I have fallen deeply in love with Aki’s little gem. It isn’t just the idea of the place, it is that I think Aki’s san cuisson really is wonderful. Given his experience at L’Ambroisie, it is no surprise he knows how to take each fish to its optimum temperature of flaky juiciness, decide which to serve skin on or off and of course to buy nice specimens. Above all, this guy has trained an excellent palate, as his seasoning and sauces display an acute balance of gastrique, with bold but controll use of spice and fruit. There is also much labour as is evident in the shininess of his jus gras reductions with pearls of fat, all this combine to dazzle the taste buds.

Aki san’s cuisine is offered naked so to speak, without bells and whistles and nothing is overworked. He can’t since it is a one man show in the kitchen. This is a restaurant that focuses on pure cooking, and given there are no filters between the diner and the Chef’s handiwork, the delivery of pleasure is astonishing when it all comes together. I feel I need to also make mention of his chantilly – carefully whipped to soft peaks and gently balanced with soft touches of sweetness.

He offers a 5 course carte blanche for €80 for dinner, and keeps an ALC for lunch. For this assembly of the most noble of wild catch off the Breton coast, it is remarkable value for money.

I have visited it 3 times in the last three months, and plan to continue doing so for the next few months. I’ve included details of each of the three meals below. The latest one in June is a special carte blanche (in which we paid €150 pp), where we pre-ordered a few dishes, namely the Seabass caviar and the Lobster navarin, which are in essence L’Ambroisie dishes, slightly reworked to fit the logistics of his grand kitchen staff of only himself. The other two menus are Aki san’s standard €80 dinner tasting menu.

Photos with some accompanying notes below.

Details

La Table d’Aki
French / Fish Restaurant
€80-€100pp plus drinks
49 Rue Vaneau
Tel: 01 45 44 43 48

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June 2018 – Special Carte Blanche

1. Amuse of Sole, smoked aubergine caviar, pesto

Beautifully pan-fried fillet of sole, with its firm texture being the major highlight. The aubergine caviar is gently smoked with a luxurious mouthfeel when broken down and harmonises well with the fish. Along with the garlic pesto and cream, this dish’s overall effect on the palate is similar to the satisfaction of say a boudin blanc.

2. Red mullet, gazpacho and pickled cucumber

Once again, the cooking on the fish is the highlight- this one likely pan-fried skin side down, and allowed to slowly come to temperature, resulting in a pearlescent flakes. The gazpacho has strings of pickled cucumber running through it, and provides a counterpoint to the naturally rich flavours of the mighty rouget.

3. Seabass, caviar and spinach

The silhouette of L’Ambrosie, afterall Akihiro san did spend two decades in Pacaud’s fish station. Escalopine cut of double fillets, though thicker and taken to higher temp than at L’Ambrosie. Nonetheless, the heat application is gentle and the skin retains its sparkle.

Served with spinach instead of chokes, aromas of white pepper emanate from the piping hot plate, but it is the Chef’s light-footed and perfectly gastrique cream sauce (presumably, with vermouth and nage) that brings harmony in threading the noble fish and the caviar together. The warmth of the sauce giving the grains this moelleux mouthfeel, like silk. Gastronomy lost in time, but found right here.

4. Blue lobster rosemary navarin, potatoes

Yet another that is a reworked L’Ambroisie dish, the Brittany blue lobster (simply boiled) featuring its characteristic firm, bouncy (almost crunchy) texture. The sauce goes very deep, peppery and rather meaty, I suspect it might have been made from meat bones, rather than lobster shells. The tourné cut potatoes presumably cooked in the same navarin and has fully taken up all the lovely flavours of the stock. Aki san left some of the tomalley in, ‘head miso’ as he pointed out, plenty of flavour. A comforting dish, hearty and soul nourishing.

5. Pineapple, meringue, chantilly and vanilla syrup

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May 2018 – Carte Blanche

1. Amuse of Red tuna and orange encased in thin and crispy brik, on a bed of crushed tomatoes.

2. Blue lobster, morels, peas and lobster veloute

3. Red mullet, fennel, aniseed

4. John dory, lightly pickled carrots, artichokes, white asparagus, jus gras

Here, Aki san has turned his considerable talents to an immaculate John dory, a large one with thick fillets, roasted to firm flakes with a beautiful sheen of nacre. With a punchy jus gras, magnificent.

5. Matcha parfait, strawberries, coconut chantilly and dacquoise

I greatly enjoyed this, especially the dacquoise and whipped cream, very light and is made well. It acts as a sort of bridge to the green tea parfait and strawberries which work as foils for one another. It doesn’t look like much, but it is truly a pudding in its essential form.

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April 2018 – Carte Blanche

1. Amuse of John Dory, baked turnip and acidulated butter

2. Lobster ravioli, peas, lobster sauce.

The lobster jus is deep and rich, with a touch of sweet, sour, spice, perhaps it is cognac or sherry, with the beurre blanc providing body. The taste, the balance, the cuisson, yes I’ve come across this before… L’Ambrosie. And yes. This sauce is better than Claire’s sorrel veloute.

3. Cod with garlic emulsion, with vegetable medley

4. Turbot, white asparagus, meat jus gras and spices

5. Orange and chantilly crepe

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Me and Chef.



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