In one of the oldest galleries in Paris, there is an indoor market place or bazaar, built in 1800 to imitate an Arabic souk. The idea being that you can shop without getting wet. In the labyrinth of narrow alleyways, you will find Passage 53, sold to us by an insider as one of the most wonderful culinary hotspots in the whole City of Light. There was little left to do other than find out if he was telling the truth. It would seem that tiny restaurants are the new trend and this one has space for a maximum of 22 covers. The menu on the outside of the restaurant includes only two menus, without any description of the dishes. We soon notice something quite appealing. Everyone in this French restaurant is Japanese, including the chef. This very young chef, Shimichi Sato, came to Paris in 2000 to work in the kitchen of Pascal Barbot. Following on from that position, he moved to Mugaritz in San Sebastian and worked as an apprentice at a number of restaurants. We asked him what his philosophy is to cooking: “I often see chefs working with too many products and too many techniques. We do the exact opposite in my kitchen. I don’t cook in a Japanese fashion, but do work with Japanese spirit. By this, I mean that we consider the products first, and then the techniques.” Shimichi is not a big fan of bistro cuisine, feeling it lacks refinement. He prefers dining in Michelin-star restaurants where they offer something spectacular. We also asked him if, coming from Japan, whether or not he likes using offal: “Personally, I love sashimi made of calf’s liver but I cannot serve that to my guests. Typically, our customers do not want to be able to taste the blood or the iron in meat, so I use roasted pine nuts to disguise the flavour. I am a big fan of a rib of veal because it’s a balanced piece of meat. It works well with other ingredients and has some fat on it. I love the fat on meat; it’s a good flavour enhancer.”
Remove the membranes from the liver thoroughly, season with salt and pepper, and sear before leaving it to rest. Roast the pine nuts and mix with the olive oil. Steam the wild asparagus in a small amount of salted water and butter. Sweat the komatsuma briefly and season to taste. Dress the liver with the pine nuts and serve with the vegetables.
Take the broad beans and garden peas out of their pods and blanch. Season the rib, sear briefly and roast in the oven to the desired level. Wash the morels in lots of water, drain well and fry in a knob of butter. Strain the liquid, add some milk and bring to a boil before adding the sherry. Thicken with butter and season to taste. Steam the garden peas, broad beans and sliced cabbage in a drizzle of hazelnut oil and season to taste. Carve the meat off the rib and serve with vegetables and the morels. Pour on the sauce.
Rinse the sweetbreads for a few hours under cold running water. Blanch briefly in salted water and remove any membranes and other impurities. Cover the bottom of a pan with water and butter and glaze the radishes and small turnip bulbs. Season to taste and put to one side. Slice the raw asparagus very thinly and put to one side as well. Put the cockles (washed) in some water with salt and pinch of sugar. Cover the pan and bring to the boil until the cockles open. Strain using a sieve and remove the beards from the shellfish. Sauté the sweetbreads and cook in the liquid from the cockles. Strain the liquid again, add the yuzu koshu, yuzu zest, some milk and then thicken with butter. Arrange the sliced sweetbreads with the cockles and the garnishes on the plate harmoniously, and finish with the jus.