I flew to Paris to have ramen

Food / June 05, 2024

Kodawari Ramen opened in 2016 because owner Jean-Baptiste Meusnier wanted to bring an authentic take on Japanese cuisine to the streets of Paris. 

Their first store in ​​29 rue Mazarine on the Left Bank was modeled after the “yokocho,” which translates to “alley” in Japanese. In terms of design, the restaurant mimicked the narrow straights in which several izakayas, bars, and stalls would typically be seen.

In recognition of the reverence and respect they’ve given to Japanese cuisine, Kodawari Ramen would go on to receive a Palme d’Or for Catering in 2017 and 2018, a Golden Ensign of Originality in 2018, and even a spot in the Michelin Guide.

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But beyond these accolades, often what means more is acceptance and acknowledgment from those you’ve taken after. Just last year, Kodawari Ramen participated in the Tokyo Ramen Festa and broke the record for the most sold bowls at the event, selling 7,700 servings in just four-and-a-half days. 

Their specialty for the fest: a French-inspired tonkotsu mounted in espuma with lobster juice, lobster oil and Bordier butter, shio tare, Iberian breast grilled with binchotan, lobster quenelle, and Breton samphire.

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Ramen is definitely not the first thing that comes to mind when Paris comes up. But for my latest trip to the city of love, having a meal at the renowned restaurant was something I could not miss out on.

Outside Kodawari Tsukiji

We went to Kodawari Tsukiji, their second branch located in the Palais Royale district. Unique from the yokocho aesthetic of the first store, this one was inspired by “Tsukiji,” an iconic fish market in Tokyo that closed in 2018.

Not your typical restaurant interior

Inside, boxes filled with synthetic crustaceans and fishes lined the walls and cluttered the space. Elsewhere, carts and containers contained packaged dried seafood. As if I were in the palengke myself, the floor had a shine to it that was reminiscent of what you would encounter in a wet market—all without the smell, stickiness, and humidity you would expect. It was all aesthetic, but I dare say, a wonderful yet food safety-friendly approximation of the original.

Grilled Sardines, Sardine Shelter, and Gyoza Kodawari

Miso Herbal Mazemen topped with grilled sardines and Shoyu Ramen

We encountered a massive line that stretched to the streets during our visit so I suggest going here early if you plan to. Yet, the wait was surely worth it. Our dine-in favorites included shoyu ramen, grilled sardines, and their specialty Gyoza Kodawari.

Kodawari Ramen

Each dish was plentiful and had flavors worthy of the accolades the restaurant has received so far. Forget the boeuf bourguignon and the croque monsieur and instead, head over to Kodawari Ramen the next time you find yourself in the city of love.