Sushi lovers in Paris, and they are many, are questioning the origin of the salmon at the end of their chopsticks since the Fukushima nuclear disaster unfolded. And Asian restauranteurs in the French capital are striving to reassure them that, even if the cuisine is Japanese, the ingredients are most probably not.
In the narrow sidestreets between Opera and the Palais Royal, ground zero for all things Japanese in Paris, sushi bars have been hardest hit in the aftermath of the March 11 earthquake and tsunami. “We have lost a third of our clientele,” said chef Eric Lin at Chez Kyotori, even though his restaurant uses salmon from Norway, sea bream from Greece, tuna from the Indian Ocean and mackerel from the North Atlantic Ocean. “The other products, like sauces and beers, come from plants in Europe — Germany, England, the Netherlands, Czech Republic…”
To reassure the customers it still has, Chez Kyotori has taken to adding an unusual footnote to its checks: “The products billed above do not originate from Japan.” Jitters over Japanese food are “purely psychological,” added Zuxii Lin, manager of Saveurs Zen (Zen Flavours), where business fell “20 to 25 per cent in the week after the March 11 earthquake” before recovering. “Only the seaweed comes from Japan, but we have a lot in stock and we can always find more elsewhere, in China or in South Korea,” she said.