Welcome to the French part of town. Special bookstores aimed towards the French community, petit cafes, and lots of croque madame and macarons. In between this mysterious French space hovering between Iidabashi and Kagurazaka lies Tokyo Paris Shokudo, a casual and welcoming respite, serving French cuisine for less.
It is like finding your discount designer shoe store amidst the Diana’s and expensive Tokyo department store floors of Chanel and Tod’s. This cafeteria brings everyday, affortable glamour–in other words, your everyday French cuisine.
Tokyo Paris Shokudo could be for some, their weekly go-to for a taste of the French at friendly prices. Might I remind you of Tokyo Cheapo’s take on sophisticated eating? Go to lunch. Knock yourself out with modest lunch deals, like Tokyo Paris Shokudo’s: their’s starts at 800 yen! It is 400 yen more to add one of their fabulous soups or starters.
Their 800 yen or 1,200 yen lunch: Tokyo Paris Shokudo, or cafeteria, posts weekly lunches on their website. Here is a sample of what an 800 lunch provides:
“Sliced beef couscous stuffing, boiled cream and potato gnocchi, homemade sausage , croque monsieur, quiche Lorraine terrine, and an assortment of three meats”.
How tempting does that sound? Again, for the additional 400 yen, your server will provide a salad, other starter, or a helping of potato-onion cream soup or whatever rich soup is on menu that day or week.
For 1,200 yen, you can also choose tea or coffee and enjoy dessert.
In the spirit of feeling rich, you have many choices here at Tokyo Paris Shokudo.
To start: For my “entree au choix”, I could have gone with the white asparagus flan or the soup du jour, but I am happy to report on their smooth cauliflower mousse, nesting in a green balsamic salad. One bite and you want more than you were served. Upon tasting the mousse, you realize he is indeed the star of the show and you will take small bites to grasp the flavor and soft texture.
It could be a competing item on Iron Chef, all of the cauliflower vying to make it into the top chef’s plated dish. This was a cool and elegant salad, served alongside bread and my own little glass pitcher of water. Such is the attitude at TPS; there is a comfortable balance between being served and having your coat hung-up and pouring from your own pitcher. You are immediately shown courtesy, but you know you are welcome to relax.
More on the mood: It is a warm room with avocado walls, scores of vintage French maps, and The Stones playing over the sounds of chatter, orders, and plates moving. And on the restroom door? Old black and white pictures of little French boys peeing. It is a playful space, not at all snobbish or hard-to-reach. The 13 tables, each seating two, separate just a bit. It is like in Paris; the almost banquette seating accommodating everyone, much like our Tokyo zero-lot lines. We are used to happily sharing space.
For your beverage: Cheapos and those who do without alcohol drink lots of water. For those who like a bit more, wines start at 630 yen, as does Campari, a gin and tonic, or Asahi.
Entrees: “Les plats aux choix” is the same: dazzling choices vying for your order. The choices expand to allow you to spend more on certain spectacular items should you want to spend a bit more, say on a burger of foie gras. (In fact, you can really go crazy and start-off from set B, for a 1,800 yen lunch or more). While I was there, the menu showcased six main dishes, three of which kept me at my 1,200 yen price-point. My plate of saba/mackeral’s skin was crisp, but with the honey mustard, it was a bit too sweet and I wanted more bread for balance. The curry-rice, green beans, and peas, however, made for a well-rounded lunch plate.
Feeling full: After a sumptuous lunch feast, select coffee or tea as part of your 1,200 yen lunch. The diminutive espresso-style cups holding my coffee put me back at a Paris metro station cafe, where you stand and relish your espresso, alongside a flaky croissant. In this case, I sipped while savoring my dark cherry cheesecake bar, its glorious cherries finishing-off the meal.
Tokyo Paris Shokudo is a place to return; you wonder what else does it have up its sleeves?