AiKo is a trendy looking Japanese restaurant not far from our apartment which we just recently came across for the first time. At first, we weren’t sure if it was really Kosher since the menu had items like “Sandwiche Milanais” which is a panini with breaded chicken, tomato sauce, and Mozzarella cheese” and “Cheezy Hot Dog”, a sausage with fried onions and cheddar cheese. There are several restaurants in Paris that market themselves as Kosher because they serve Kosher meat, however, they also serve cheese and wouldn’t be considered Kosher by Glatt Kosher standards. We noticed that Aiko is actually under the supervision of the Beit Din of Paris (the hashkacha that all Kosher Restaurants in Paris are under) and discovered that they use mock cheese in these kinds of dishes.
To preface this post, I regret to inform you that for the first time, I forgot to take pictures of my food at dinner! It may have had to do with the fact that I was so hungry and rushed to eat my meal without pausing to take out the camera. I was so upset afterwards, since part of the credibility of my reviews incorporates photos of the food that I describe. I will make it my duty to eat here again soon so that I can add more photos to this post 😉
The restaurant has a chic and trendy interior, and almost feels like a lounge. As is typical of most Kosher restaurants in Paris, the space at AiKo is very small at the tables are so close together that you could eavesdrop on your neighbor’s entire conversation. Since Josh and I don’t understand French well enough to do so, we stare at our neighbors’ dishes instead and remark on how the food looks to each other. I try to peak over discreetly but Josh usually checks out the food very obviously.
We started with a bowl of edamame (6 euro) and a bowl of Pad Thai (6 euro) to share. It’s a good thing that we got both, since they were each individual sized portions. We were very excited when we saw the pad thai on the menu, since it happens to be a favorite food for both of us and very difficult to find Kosher, or even at all in Paris. The edamame was good (it’s kind of hard to mess up edamame) but the pad thai tasted like cucumber salad flavored pasta. The dish consisted of thin rice noodles and then strips of cucumbers. This pad thai was very bland and unlike a typical pad thai, which is prepared with a ton of oil, bursts with a sodium enriched flavor, and is often served with fried egg, peanuts, bean sprouts and other Asian veggies. We agreed that we would not order the pad thai on our next visit.
Next, Josh ordered the Saumon Spicy Kabir (14 euro)- a plate of sliced pieces of salmon in a citrus soy sauce and served with white rice and ironically, another side of that cucumbery pad thai! The salmon was really deliciously flavored and smooth like butter- one of the best I have tasted at a Kosher restaurant in Paris. When Josh was too full to finish it, I more than gladly volunteered to scarf down the remainder. Salmon must be their specialty because almost everyone sitting near us ordered the “Saumon Aiko” (13 euro), which is basically the same as what Josh ordered but with a soy caramel sauce instead- I told you we always notice what everyone sitting in our periphery orders!
I was thrilled to discover that the menu had crunchy rolls- sushi rolls with a fried coating on the outside. Many of the Kosher sushi restaurants in the US have all kinds of fried or tempura crusted sushi rolls, but it is more difficult to find in Paris. There is a large variety of different kinds of sushi including rolls wrapped with avocado, salmon, and tuna. I ordered two sushi rolls, the “Crunchy Spicy Poulet” roll (6 euro) – a fried and coated roll with chicken and a spicy mayo, and the “Poulet Teriyaki”(5.5 euro) – a regular white rice and seaweed roll with chicken marinated in teriyaki sauce. The chicken in the latter was extremely dry and chewy, and I could barely taste the teriyaki sauce. I doused it in the sweet soy sauce that was on the table to add flavor to the blandness. The crunchy roll was better because the abundance of mayonaise made the chicken more moist. The mayo was very spicy and needed to be generously dipped in the sweet soy sauce to mitigate the bite.
I don’t think I would order the sushi again next time, but I would definitely come back and try one of the other interesting dishes on the menu like Sandwich Milanais (sounds like a parve chicken parm!) or the Salad Chinois (I’ve never met a salad chinoise at a Kosher restaurant in Paris that I didn’t like). Our dining experience actually concluded very pleasantly because on our way out, the owner or manager (unclear as to which one) heard us speaking English and asked us how our meal was in English. We retorted with positive reviews and struck up an amicable conversation with him. He was very friendly and told us that he looks forward to seeing us next time. We are unaccustomed to restaurant owners going out of their way to be friendly to us in Paris, so he definitely added brownie points to our experience at AiKo Restaurant!