A few weeks ago, Philip and I somehow managed to get a last minute reservation at the new izakaya in Pigalle. This was a feat for a few reasons. The first being that I always leave making reservations to the last minute meaning that we don’t ever get one and the second being that Ito is a very tiny spot with only a few covers. Needless to say, somehow the Friday night dinner Gods were on our side this time and we managed to get an 8:30pm spot.
I’d read about Ito on Kim’s site, Unlock Paris. I respect her opinions when it comes to food and even more so because she’s lived in Paris for some time now and can tell when a spot is just a trend to gloss-over or something legit. In her eyes, Ito was a legit place to eat. I also was excited about this opening because while Philip and I were traveling throughout Japan in 2012, the izakayas were some of our favorite places to eat. You get a nice mix of sushi, tofu, tempura, vegetable dishes and more. As a lover of Japanese food (two weeks without cheese or baguette and I barely noticed!), the izakaya is a great way to try a lot of different dishes. It’s Japan’s small plate restaurant.
While waiting for Philip to arrive after a very long day with meetings in Zurich (hello 4am wake-up call!), I sipped on a yuzu cocktail with a light fizz. It was a little sweet for my taste but I’d never had a yuzu drink before and I liked the spiciness that it added.
While enjoying this drink alone, I perused the menu to check out how the restaurant worked, served their dishes and see what we would be eating that evening. And right before my very eyes, I saw kale. I had to do a double-take because at first I felt that maybe the name of the dish was the translation of a Japanese word but as I kept reading, it confirmed that yes, there was kale on this menu and it was paired with glass noodles, carrots and shallots in a light soy vinegar.
While the serving of kale was small, the dish itself was just a Japanese take on bowls of veggies my mom would prepare for me as a kid. Other standout dishes was the chou fleur, edamame warm salad and the dorade royal. Because we normally eat way too much at restaurants, this was one where we could have had two of everything. Not because portions are that small but because it was just so good. Fresh ingredients with flavors both sweet and savory blended together, transporting me back to our Tokyo vacation.
And… the dessert. I never take photos of dessert and rarely do I even crave it but this dessert was fresh and just enough. Not too big and not too sweet.
Whether or not Ito will always have kale, I have no idea but if you want a great taste of Japanese food, this spot is one not to miss.
2 Rue Pierre Fontaine, 75009