Kunitoraya - THE place to go for udon noodles in Paris
During one of our Skype conversations at the beginning of December, I asked my son if there was anything specific that he wanted to do while in Paris. Without hesitation Philippe said, "Yeah, I'd like to go back to that udon noodle place". Since Kunitoraya is the little hole in the wall restaurant that I automatically head towards whenever I'm near the Palais Garnier, I immediately agreed because there's nothing better than a steaming bowl of udon noodles on a cold Parisian day.
Kunitoraya was also one of the first places that I took my Japanese friend, Itsuko, when she came for a visit in November. After inspecting the kitchen, which is rather easy since it's right behind the counter, to confirm that they were using homemade dashi (Japanese sea stock) and speaking with the staff to ensure that they're truly Japanese, Itsuko looked at the other customers and joked that she hadn't seen so many of her compatriots since she was last in Japan. While I don't remember what Itsuko ordered, I know that I had C-13 (Kamaten-Udon). As always, I was pleased with the combination of tempura and noodles served with a savory broth, while Itsuko declared that her meal was authentically Japanese. Best of all, when she checked her facebook account and saw that a friend from Aki, Japan* had posted a comment telling her to go to Kunitoraya because they serve the best udon noodles in Paris, Istuko could respond that her American friend (me!) had already taken her there.
As Itsuko and I had bonded during trips to the Japanese grocery store in Lausanne, I mentioned that I was disappointed that the one in Paris had recently reduced their stock. According to Itsuko, the same thing has happened in Switzerland because all of the Japanese products imported into European countries have to be scanned for radiation making it very costly for the small shops.
*There are three Kunitoraya restaurants: one in Aki, Japan and two in Paris. The restaurant on St. Anne accepts orders continuously from 11:30 am until 10:00 pm, a big plus as many restaurants stop serving mid-afternoon. The picture shown below is slightly misleading because there is usually a line of people waiting outside for one of the coveted ~ 30 seats.
39 rue Sainte-Anne (the little hole in the wall where I always go)
5 rue Villedo (their more upmarket restaurant)