Saturday, 13 August 2011

Japanese Cuisine in Paris: Orient Extrême Montaigne

Paris is a cosmopolitan city, complete with many gastronomic delights.  When you want Asian cuisine, you can easily find a place to suit your cravings. My family and I love Japanese food, and we discovered a medium-sized restaurant on a street off of Avenue Montaigne,...
on 21 Rue Bayard, in the 8eme arrondisement.
Nestled between a Thai restaurant and a French bar and restaurant, across from the RTL radio station which is next to another Japanese restaurant, the Orient Extrême Montaigne is accesible by Metro - and the nearest one is line 9 (Franklin Roosevelt exit), plus a few minutes of walking on Avenue Montaigne, then left into rue Bayard. With a Vélib' (bike) station right in front of it, you can enjoy a bike ride to the place from wherever you find another bike station - just be sure to know where to pass.

Welcomed in French, instead of the customary welcome greeting in Japanese, this was a hint that there was going to be an added touch to what we were looking forward to. We were not disappointed by chef Toyofumi Ozuru's creations.
It's a simply chic place, like some French restaurants, and patronized mostly by  the locals. 

I thought it was interesting that we ordered the same items on the menu.

 Carpaccio de Saumon 

This Italian dish, with the raw beef replaced with raw slices of salmon, came with a distinct Japanese sauce like Ponzu Sauce, with fresh shallots, black sesame seeds, and little sweet nuggets that were crunchy. That was a burst of flavor.

 Ebi Tempura California Rolls

A very popular choice as a starter course - this is Tempura Shrimp rolled into the California Roll.
Ebiten Salade

This was a tasty salad with a mound of lightly battered and quick fried shrimps, over a melange of colored salad leaves, and garnished with chopped spring onions. SImply delicious with a creamy sauce. We had seconds of this one.

We kept our main courses light to make room for dessert.
 Fondant de Chocolat au glace vanille

A version of a lava cake - the chocolate fondant (means melting) was still warm, complimented by a petit serving of fresh fruit salad and a scoop of vanilla ice cream. Decadent!

Fondant de Chocolat au sorbet mangue

A request was granted for a lactose-intolerant chocolate addict who asked for a mango sorbet to replace the ice cream, was willingly granted.

Macha Cake 

A cake roll with a creamy green-tea flavored filling and sweetened Azuki (red beans) paste, served with vanilla ice cream and sweetened red beans, on the side. The cake roll was not very sweet and it did have a discernible green-tea flavor, that went so well with the side accompaniments.

To cleanse the palate, a scoop, each, of vanilla and green tea ice cream did the trick.

 Except for a table or two, the restaurant was packed by 10:00 p.m. 
For reservations: +33 (0)1 47 20 91 58

Sunday, 7 August 2011

The Most Beautiful Bridge in Paris - Pont Alexandre lll

Judged to be the most beautiful bridge in Paris, this bridge - Pont Alexandre lll, is the only one of it's kind. Designed in the Art Nouveau style, it was built by engineers Resal and Alby...

at about the same time as the Grand Palais and the Petit Palais, for the 1900 Exposition Universelle (World's Fair). Using stone and metal, this bridge is lavishly decorated with ornate lamp posts,

sculptures of cherubs,
 and gilded statues of winged horses on four granite pillars that are 17 meters high, on each corner of the bridge. 

Though the construction was started in 1897, the first foundation stone was laid by Russian Tsar Nicolas II in October of 1896. This bridge was to symbolize the friendship between Russia and France and was named after Tsar Alexander lll, Nicolas ll's father. It was opened to the public, in time for the 1900 universal exposition.

With the sidewalks almost as wide as the street on the bridge, its a picturesque background for the the tourists to have their I-was-here pictures taken.

It's a favorite spot for post-wedding pictures to be taken. This time, it looked like cinderella came to town with her prince-charming husband.
This pair, surely, got the attention of the passersby. 

The staircases leading down to the level of the Seine River are well guarded by the king of the jungle - the lion. There are four to descend on, two from each end of the bridge, from both sides of the street. 

On one occasion, there was a fashion shoot going on.

This bridge is used quite often as a venue for other events, I found out.

One Saturday, while walking on the street level by the Seine, I heard something - my kind of music - Batucada - a Brazilian music genre with African influence. 

The association of houseboat owners on the Seine River organized this event for an afternoon of entertainment. There was a small exhibition of designs - about life on the Seine.  But for the most part, the people stopped above on the sidewalk, to listen, or came down to the river level because of the performers.

We were dancing the samba to the rhythm of the drums, the sounds of the tambourine, cowbells, rain makers, and other noisemakers. What fun! Here's a sample of the Batucada sound. You might as well get up and dance.

Down on the level of the Seine River, a close-up look at the decorative details of the  bridge shows the intricacies of the designs.

As I was walking by, I noticed these stair-like contraption made up of a floating-cube system. They were being dismantled after a triathlon event that had just been completed, earlier in the day. This was used as the dive-off platform by the participants. 

Continuing my  walk along this path and it brought me close to some of the houseboats docked along the river.

At dusk, the sculptures come alive with the shadows cast.

The bridge takes on more special effects when the lights are turned on. 
And on the weekend, there's added action going on when you go through that tunnel under the street, next to the bridge - the pathway used by vehicles and pedestrians.

Right next to one of the the descending stairs is the  entrance to LE SHOWCASE BAR.

This bar, which was originally the boat hangers below the bridge and now converted, comes alive on the weekends. It's one of the newer venues where the night life for the young and hip takes place, where one can discover up-and-coming bands playing their music, with guests dancing 'til the wee hours of the morning. As this is always packed, calling in to make a reservation would be a smart thing to do.

Le Showcase Bar
Underneath the Pont Alexandre lll
Port Des Champs-Elysées 75008 Paris
Tel. no. 01 45 61 25 43
METRO: Lines 1 & 13 (Champs

When looking under the bridge...

one can appreciate the engineering design of steel columns - criss-crossed bars, pillars, and arc-shaped metal, designed to support...

this arched bridge.

It's been rainy weather in the last couple of weeks. But even on a gloomy day, it is still a sight to behold.

Pont Alexandre lll served it's main purpose during the 1900 Universal Exposition of bridging the two sides of the Seine River, where 50 million people traversed from each side to the other, as they went around the exposition sites. For the last century, it has been a major thoroughfare connecting the Left Bank - where the Esplanade des Invalides is, to the right bank, passing the Petit Palais and the Grand Palais on avenue Winston Churchill, and ending on the Champs-Elysées. That golden dome is the Cathédrale de Saint Louis des Invalides, where Napoleon's tomb is located.

When you come to walk and admire this bridge, make it a romantic one on your memorable visit to Paris.  Linger awhile and take in the beauty around you. Let it be a passage to your next stop to the left or right bank. 

Not too far is another lovely sight - the Eiffel Tower.


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