Lazy me. When I find the time I'll drop more places (including NYC of course), but for the moment this is it (check other lists of tables worldwide) :
Eat Korean in Hawaii :
65-1158 Mamalahoa Hwy, Waimea Center, Waimea, HIKAMUELA, HI 96743 - USA
Tel : +1.808.885.8440
In the mist of the old volcano, in a nondescript shopping arcade, a simple Korean restaurant with simple but good food. For your best doenjjang jjigae and grilled chicken in Big Island (Hawaii). SM2004
Eat Korean in California :
WOO RAE OK
170 N La Cienega Blvd, BEVERLY HILLS, CA 90211 - USA
Tel : +1.310.652.4187
One block away from the Meridien, classic Korean food in a decent place makes L.A. bearable (prefer a quiet lunch to a crowded if not snobish dinner). Not cheap but more value for your money than at the Nobu cross the street (even with Matsuhisa himself paying a visit back to our table). SM2003
Once again, I'm only keeping track of some places I enjoyed, beyond the usual suspects (already listed everywhere else). This is not about the most glamorous places but about food I happened to enjoy.
Some restaurants in Japan (see other lists of tables worldwide) :
Eat Japanese in Tokyo :
SABO HANAHENRO / Shimaya Hiroshi Yasunori Taninaka (大島屋)
7-17-11 Yanaka, Taito-ku, TOKYO, JAPAN
Tel : 03-3821-5052
If Yanaka is a graveyard area, Yanaka under 34 degrees is death itself. And this udon place is where you resuscitate. You just have to climb a few stairs (Golghota is far worse), and reach the second floor of a non-descript house on Sansaki-zaka, close to Sendagi Station. The menu is only in Japanese but the owner speaks English and his parents cook really great, simple and sound food. Their cold udon salad saved me. SM 2008
SUKIYA A-BOO EXPRESS
(I couldn't find any better translation for 数寄屋バーグ)
4-2-12 Ginza, Chuo-ku, TOKYO, JAPAN
Tel : 03-3561-0688
If you like greasy, sizzling hamburger steaks this is the place. Right across the Sony Building, on the ground floor, a restaurant so small that there are more people waiting outside than eating inside (a dozen seats overall, maybe more). Pick your size (150g 200g 250g 300g), your toppings, your sauce (garlic beats wasabi), your set (salad, soup and plain rice), and enjoy. SM 2008
GINZA HINAI-YA - SHIODOME
(銀座 比内や 汐留店)
105-0021 Minato-ku, TOKYO, JAPAN
Tel : 03-5537-2902
Tasty Hinai chicken Yakidori in various styles. The meal is rythmed by the subway right above : every other minute, a couple of trains stop at Shimbashi station. SM 2006
Eat Korean in Tokyo :
Longing for bulgogi ? Find a Toraji nearby.
Eat Japanese in Kyoto :
90-4 Onmae dori Ichijo
26 602 KYOTO, JAPAN
Tel : (+81) 075-463-7035
Kyoto sits on an underground lake of pure water, which proves useful when you intend to make good tea and good tofu. This franchise is not the most select but has joints across the city. If you just want their damningly good tofu icecream, stop at one of their other locations (Tel: 075-255-3231). SM 2006
And if you happen to be in Tokyo and have time to spare between Miyake's 21_21 Design Sight and the Suntory Museum of Art, take a sit in their Tokyo Midtown branch. SM 2008
KYONO TOFUYA FUJINO
Galleria/B1F/25 - Tokyo Midtown Roppongi, TOKYO, JAPAN
Eat Japanese in Himeji :
Frankly, we didn't venture far into the city beyond Otemae-dori, the straight line joining the train station with the Himeji Castle. We were about to give up looking for an interesting restaurant when, one or two blocks from the castle, this noodle joint appeared. Right pick : delicious udon, crafted by a fiftyish man before our eyes. SM 2006
68 Otemae-Dori - Himeji, JAPAN - Hyogo-ken
Tel : 25-5505
Once again, guides are full of top restaurants and there's no point of listing them here. I'm just keeping track of some places I enjoyed. This is not about the most glamorous places but about food I like. I definitely like Florence and Tuscany, but the most memorable spot was the tiny Da Tonino wine shop in Milano.
Restaurants in Italy (see other lists of tables worldwide) :
- Florence, Fiesole, San Giminiano
Eat Italian in Florence and Toscana :
Via Rosina 2r - 50123, FIRENZE, ITALY (FI)
Tel : +39.055 – 218550
My favorite trattoria in Firenze is a crowded and noisy place where you feel like ordering every single dish served on all other tables... which, considering the space, is never far away from right under your nose. Fiaschetteria - Trattoria Mario makes fantastic food fresh from the nearby market (they're at the corner of Rosina and Piazza del Mercato Centrale), so the menu changes depending on the season and the days. Don't worry : they propose meltingly damning sauces - traditional Tuscan - for both seafood and meat. From fine flavors to heavy zuppe di fagioli, you'll find anytime a solution to any situation. Of course, if you're more in a Botticelli than a Brueghel mood, if you prefer debates about the Medici to discussions about La Viola, Giancarlo Antognoni or Luca Toni, don't waste your time in this most fantastic lair. SM2007
Via dei Palchetti, 6/r - 50123 FIRENZE, ITALY (FI)
Tel : +39.055.210916
Traditional Tuscan restaurant for locals who want the real thing, off the touristic path. If you intend to have dinner here, take some good friends, a light lunch, and don't forget to make a reservation and come at the opening. Now if you're a vegetarian... well, avoid this excellent slaughterhouse. SM2007
BORGO SAN JACOPO
Borgo San Jacopo 62r 50125 FIRENZE, ITALY (FI)
Tel : +39.055.281.661
Thank the Ferragamo famiglia for enlightening the city with delightful spots. You can zap their Savoy in favor of their so cosy Gallery Hotel Art or a breathtaking view from one ot their Lungarno Suites. Borgo San Jacopo enjoys a great location and an interesting decoration but depending on the season (on/off), their food can be either sublime or just above average. SM2005
OSTERIA DELLE CATENE
Via Mainardi, 18 SAN GIMIGNANO, ITALY (SI)
Tel : +39.0577.941966.
Not very exciting from the outside but what's on your plate deserves all your attention. Far from a bore (but closer to wild boars), you can enjoy tasty traditional if not medieval Tuscan food with a bottle of white Vernaccia. SM2005
Via del Parione, 74/76r 50123 FIRENZE, ITALY (FI)
Tel : +39.055.214.005
For the best food in town, you may have to go out of town (Villa San Michele definitely towers above the competition), but if you want to feast in a friendly spot, Parione provides a mouth watering menu. SM2005
VILLA SAN MICHELE
Via Doccia 4, FIESOLE, ITALY (FI)
Tel : +39.055.567.8200
Eat Italian in Napoli :
Via S. Teresa a Chiaia, 47 80121 NAPOLI, ITALY (NA)
Tel : +39.081.421.533
Small tables and low prices but divine food - at the same time very simple and rich in complex flavors. The boss locks the mamma in the kitchen and takes care of you - he may offer you a drink from his - comprehensive - cave (selling wine seems his main game, which explains the rates). Who knows what the menu will be when you pass by ? It's up to the mammissima's maestria. But you don't know mozzarella till you taste her mozzarella alla pizzaela (mamma mia). Don't miss the penne alla genovese either, but order some Napolitan speciality with it so that Tonino doesn't take it as a personal offense. Watch out : the restaurant opens only certain evenings. If you really want to try another Osteria in the same street, go to Castello (# 38) instead of the insipid Osteria dell'Oca (# 11). SM2004
Eat Italian in Milano :
Via dell'Orso 1 20121 MILANO, ITALY (MI)
Tel : +39.02.869.32.73
Let's be frank : Milano wasn't a major culinar peak for me. Coriandolo is fine but wouldn't deserve a detour. SM2005
Once again, guides are full of top restaurants and there's no point of listing them here. I'm just keeping track of some places I enjoyed. At my pace. This is not about the most glamorous places but about food I like.
Restaurants in Paris (see other lists of tables worldwide) :
- Korean restaurants
- Chinese restaurants
- Vietnamese restaurants
- Japanese restaurants
- Italian restaurants
- Turkish restaurants
- Uyghur restaurants
- French restaurants
Eat Korean in Paris :
1 rue du Dragon 75006 PARIS, FRANCE (SEE NEW ADDRESS BELOW)
Tel : +126.96.36.199.26.63
Maybe the best beef bulgogi on earth : mouthwatering and meltingly good. The key factors for success : the quality of the meat (from Belgium, a perfect mix of meat and fat) and the way it's been marinated : there's someting about the soy sauce - actually, this is not an actual bulgogi but fusion food : the owner is... Japanese !!! There's a similar marinating technique at Toraji's in Tokyo but with thicker slices of meat. Open sundays and overcrowded most of the time. You want to book that one. SM2003
PS : there are other Korean Barbecue restaurants in Paris, owned by the same family, but that's as close as it gets.
UPDATE 200812 : sad news for this restaurant (see "Annus Horribilis").
UPDATE 20101215 : Korean Barbecue reopens today !!! 7 rue de Ponthieu 75008 Paris, (Tel: +188.8.131.52.35.41)
8 boulevard Delessert 75016 PARIS, FRANCE
Tel : +184.108.40.206.72.82
The finest Korean restaurant in Paris, even if you may prefer the Korean Barbecue at rue du Dragon for the bulgogi (see below). SM2003.
51 rue Cambronne - 75015 PARIS, FRANCE
Tel : +220.127.116.11.53.17
The new reference for fine Korean dining in Paris. SM2008
Eat Chinese in Paris :
FLEURS DE MAI
61 avenue de Choisy 75013 PARIS, FRANCE
Tel : +18.104.22.168.37.71
Don't miss : mussels with basil, steamed chicken with ginger... the best Cantonese restaurant in Paris. Not the most glamourous, but who gives a clam ? SM2003
Eat Vietnamese in Paris :
51 avenue Emile Zola 75015 PARIS, FRANCE
Tel : +22.214.171.124.40.96
Supposedly the finest Vietnamese restaurant in Paris : a very refined cuisine, a quiet place and kind people... Need anything else ?
PHO BIDA SAIGON
44 avenue d'Ivry - 75013 PARIS, FRANCE
Tel : +126.96.36.199.04.85
The best Pho in town is hiding in the furthest corner of an ugly shopping center (Centre Commercial des Olympiades). If you prefer a seat outdoor, there's a Pho cluster on avenue de Choisy (ie PHO 14 and Pho Banh Cuon both at # 129).
Eat Japanese in Paris :
38 avenue Edouard Vaillant 92100 BOULOGNE BILLANCOURT, FRANCE
Tel : +33.1.46.08.38.38
You want to book that one if you intend to come for dinner. If you don't mind the smoke* and sake from Japanese office clerks and execs, you can enjoy good sushi and sashimi along with actual cuisine (boiled or grilled fish, sunomono - vinegar and miso - tuna and veggies...). Better and deeper than your usual joint and you don't even have to dress up. SM2006
* 2008 update : thanks to the new regulation, smoke is gone for good.
32 bis rue Sainte Anne 75001 PARIS, FRANCE
Tel : +33.1.47.03.38.59
Hungry ? There's better than Nissin's Cup noodle : Sainte-Anne's asylum for empty stomachs. Take a sit where you can - if possible in front of the Chinese cooks banging on their massive woks - and order whatever you please. Not the finest Japanese food - and not the healthiest either - but you'll satisfy your wolf self. I must confess a weakness for their fried rice... SM2003
Eat Italian in Paris :IANNELLO
17 boulevard Exelmans75016 PARIS, FRANCE
Tel : +188.8.131.52.80.08
That ugly block under the Garigliano bridge could turn into an interesting spot for food lovers (and for not always interesting people from neighboring medialand - TF1, France Televisions...). Where an insanely lousy French restaurant stood, Ignnello proposes one of the finest Italian cuisine this side of the Seine*. Tasty and perfectly served for a reasonable price. SM2006
* addendum 2007-2008 : maybe not so since they changed their parmigiano supplier : the previously wonderful fondue is now too heavy.
Eat Turkish in Paris :
99 avenue Edouard Vaillant 92100 BOULOGNE BILLANCOURT, FRANCE
Tel : +184.108.40.206.50.06
Turkish restaurant with a fine and affordable mixed grill - provided the main chef is there and the food kept cool during summer - for the delicious marinated chicken. SM2005
Eat Uyghur in France :
74 Rue Jean-Pierre Timbaud 75011 PARIS, FRANCE
Tel : +220.127.116.11.04.73
Walking in the cold Parisian winter, looking for a place to just sit and eat, and suddenly facing this most unexpected restaurant... the magic of the city of light ! I heard about Uyghur food but never tried it. Believe me: it does taste unique. New flavors, subtle yet with a strong character. You may find familiar categories : noodles (the famous handmade laghman, the world's first noodles, which probably gave their name to la mian, ramen, ramyeon), lamb samosa and soup, fried chicken... but with a truly original twist, and completely different from what you can taste in Turkish, Indian, Arabian, or other cuisines. Delicious, at a reasonable price, with very kind Uyghur staff, and on opposite walls two nice pictures from Kashgar in the 1980s.
Eat French in France :
More into French food ? I've been looking for new lairs since "Aux Petits Oignons" closed on Boulevard Exelmans and "L'escalier" near Vitrac. If you want both a nice location and good food, try these (not always the cheapest joints around) :
LE COUDE FOU
12, Rue du Bourg-Tibourg - 75004 PARIS, FRANCE
Tel : +18.104.22.168.15.16
Looking for great food, good wine, a friendly atmosphere, in a central location... and a reasonable price ? You want French food as you like it : stimulating for the tastebuds but not too much traditional, creative but not too much artificial...? No problemo : this is the place.
Les Grandes Tables du 104
5, Rue Curial, 75019 Paris, FRANCE
Tel : +22.214.171.124.10.07
An excellent aliby to visit the Centquatre. Tasty, inventive, eyecatching, and not too expensive. The service cannot follow (kind but slow), but that's neither the point nor the place for that (and it adds to the back-to-school feeling). The mi-cuit with caramel (actually not even one third baked) was really worth waiting for.
and don't forget
L'ATELIER DE JOEL ROBUCHON
5, Rue Montalembert 75007 PARIS, FRANCE
Tel : +126.96.36.199.56.56 (no reservations)
20, Rue d'Artois 75008 PARIS, FRANCE
Tel : +188.8.131.52.19.66
CREPERIE LE DERWIN
Allee du Derwin 44740 BATZ SUR MER, FRANCE
Tel : +184.108.40.206.90.06 (no reservations)
The coast isn't as wild as it used to be and the atmosphere at Derwin reminds me of a Swiss chalet serving hot wine but I don't care. I'm coming for the "moules Derwin" : mussels with cheese, a fusion of seafood and Fondue Savoyarde. Warm, cheesy, sticky, heavy and tasty. Utterly unhealthy but you only live once.
For the crepes, sorry but I'm sticking to my early childhood and Tante Germaine : a few kilometers away, in Le Croisic :
31 rue de l'Eglise 44490 LE CROISIC, FRANCE
Tel : +220.127.116.11.23.78.
Let's not waste time with famous restaurants - guides are full of them - and focus on a few places where food matters*.
Here are a few places I like to remember...
My lists of restaurants in France
My lists of restaurants in Austria
My lists of restaurants in India
My lists of restaurants in Italy
My lists of restaurants in Korea are on Seoul Village
My lists of restaurants in Japan
My lists of restaurants in the US
These lists may not be accurate anymore but so is my memory.
The original 2003 list is still on my obsolete website.
* I tried quite a few 3 star tables, some of them really great, but the best lobster I ever had costed me about $1 back in 1989 (in a fishermen hut near Cirebon, IDN).
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