Makoto Aoki: Deceptively classy French bistro, hai!

Makoto Aoki, photo courtesy of Paris Bistro Editions

When I told my mom that I went to Aoki for dinner over the weekend, she was not impressed. In fact, her exact words were, “French food cooked by a Japanese guy? I think I’ll skip that one the next time I come to visit.”

Little does she know that Japanese chefs are all the rage in Paris. To anyone who has lived here long enough, the France-Japan lovefest will not seem that surprising (Monet and Kenzo, to name but two culture-crossers), but on the surface there is little resemblance. In one corner you have highly emotive and decadent, in the other you have extreme restraint and minimalism. Perhaps this is a case of opposites attract. Or maybe it is that they both tend to be exigeant. Seriously exigeant. An appreciation for perfection and detail that pulls together the two poles.

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