Japanese stagiares (i.e., trainees) have long been an essential part of Paris’s top-tier, Michelin starred kitchen brigades, but lately scores of them have struck out on their own, opening tiny tables d’auteurs—and putting their high-level training to use in more eclectic, affordable bistro-style settings.
This kosher butcher shop turned bistro of the moment recently opened in the culinary hotbed of the 9th arrondissement. Run by chef Yoshie Morie—who opened one of the vanguards of French-Nippon cuisine, Le Petit Verdot—it offers limited menus with comforting yet creative dishes such as mussels, cauliflower and Indian spice mix, or monkfish with cooked and raw vegetables (broccoli, burnt eggplant)—plus one of the best desserts of the year: violet-and-fig compote with a side of Timut pepper sorbet. 43 rue Richer, +33 1 72 60 97 72
Les Enfants Rouge
Tucked away behind Paris's oldest and most charming market in trendy North Marais, this former wine bar has been given a new lease on life by chef Dai Shinozuka, formerly of Yves Camdeborde's famous Le Comptoir. Shinozuka (with help from his wife) turns out precisely prepared market menus (line-caught Brittany cod with buckwheat risotto; oxtail with celery). Chic locals wash it all down with natural, biodynamic wines. 9 rue de Beauce, +33 1 48 87 80 61
Robuchon and Taillevent-trained Katsuaki Okiyama opened this tiny corridor in 2012 with an unheard of 22€ four-dish lunch market menu (38.50€ for dinner). The postage stamp-sized dining room, located a stone’s throw from the Eurostar terminal, is booked weeks in advance for one of the best values in town. 92 rue du Faubourg Poissonnière
Le Sot l’Y Laisse
Eiji Doihara, who cut his teeth at Paul Bocuse’s namesake brasserie in Tokyo, took over this time-worn bistro in the scruffily chic 11th. He puts a twist on classic French dishes with his deft Nippon technique, often using unusual product combinations. Think mi-cuit fatty tuna with basil/wasabi pistou and a side of crunchy veg from star gardener Joel Thiébault. 70 rue Alexandre Dumas
La Table d’Aki
Expect exceptional quality cooking from this intimate, 16-seat space in the high rent 7th. Akihiro Horokoshi (known to friends as Aki) cheffed for nearly 20 years at the place des Vosges’s three star Michelin L’Ambroisie, and is a one-man omakasé machine, preparing, cooking, and serving the daily-changing menu to an in-the-know dining crowd. 49 rue Vanneau
Adrian Moore is a hotel concierge at the Mandarin Oriental, Paris by day and a freelance food writer blogger by night, keeping close tabs on what’s up-and-coming in the City of Light. He's currently writing a book profiling chefs, to be published in 2015.