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Published by Oat Sitalasai — 5 years ago

I think I may be on a roll here with reasonable eats. Or maybe I just miss Japanese food so much that I keep putting myself in these situations. Either way I was wandering around Rue Sainte-Anne once again with an empty stomach after class. I actually had gone there to buy something from the Asian stores, but then I couldn't help myself but to find a place an eat. I obviously wasn't bothered with walking in the cold, getting on and off changing metro lines then walk in the cold again back to my apartment. 

For this lunch, I came across what looked like a small corner restaurant, by the name of “Higuma.” The passes the test so I decided to peek through the window. I then saw an open kitchen literally four steps from the entrance door. The action was right smack in the middle of the place. Full on action from the start. It definitely reminded me of some ramen places back home in Japan so my stomach told me to push through the door and go for it. 

The restaurant was very busy, another good sign. I was then greeted and offered to be seated right in front of the busy chefs on the counter or at a table. I chose the table. I need to add that at this point, the smell of the food has already attacked my hair, my face, my scarf and my coat. It’s one of those places where you know your whole body will smell like the kitchen when you step out.


Anyhow, I was seated and was handed the menu. I knew what I wanted. Katsudon! For those that are not familiar with this dish, I will post a picture right below this paragraph. What it is, essentially, is a bowl of rice, topped up with deep-fried pork cutlet that has been crumbed through panko breadcrumbs. There is also a slightly more raw very of an onion egg/omelet that sits on top of the meat. In the perfect world, the dish is served with a bit of chopped springs onions and a tea spoon of pickled veggies. But we do not always face a perfect situation (at least I didn’t), so I was handed my katsudon without the garnishes. A very simple katsudon indeed!

Alright time to dig in! The egg was not bad. It did have the Japanese-taste to it, but not as strong as it should've be. Strong sounds like I’m putting a bad connotation to the dish. Perhaps, not as flavourful. I had to add salt to it and that was how it tasted. It’s weird enough to add salt to any Asian food, so that should give you a bit of an idea. The pork cutlet was average. It wasn’t good, hence why I used the word average. You will see in a close up of the pork below this paragraph that it was not fresh. I don’t obviously expect for the chefs to butcher the pork in the morning then use it for lunch time, but your palate should be able to recognise, especially after 21 years, when a piece of meat is not up to standard. You could see it actually, although not as clear as when I had it. A good example of this pork cutlet would be nice and moist inside, and you would actually be able to taste the flavours of the breadcrumbs soaking up the oil it was swimming in. Another fault of this dish was the soul of it, the rice. It was sad because katsudon is after all a rice dish. As much emphasis as we put on the meat and the omelet, the goal of the dish is for the components to be consumed with rice. And by this, I mean nice rice. The rice here was far more nice. It was very sticky, too sticky even by Japanese standards. Worse of all was that it was wet. That was went I drew the line between super sticky rice and wet rice. There’s not a lot of things that’s worse that want to eat a katsudon, only to discover that you’re eating it with wet rice. 


I paid eight euros and fifty cents for the katsudon. They do have other dishes on the menu, in which I believe are probably their strong points. The gentleman next to me had a bowl of simple ramen and a fried rice. First of all, I must point out that he was seated after me, and ordered about ten minutes after I had ordered mine. He got his fried rice within three minutes, and his ramen within seven. But okay, maybe it might take time to deep-fried the meat, but that’s only if it’s fresh. Anyway, he enjoyed his dish as he made that loud noise while having his ramen. This is a sign in Japan (he was a Japanese man by the way) that the food is of quality. Since he’s a native of Japan and he finished both his fried rice and ramen, I could assume to a certain extent that it wasn’t a bad meal. He did not complain or have a single moment of hesitation. Perhaps I had made a mistake in ordering what was not a speciality of the restaurant. 

If you are in giving Higuma a try, I would encourage you to. Please take my experience as a lesson and do not try the katsudon. By all means, knock yourself out and try other things on their menu, probably the ramen with fried rice and some gyozas. For the price and variety of the menu, I would definitely return again at some point. Like I said, I would order something else since it's not fair to justify the quality of one place based on just one single visit and one dish. The people around me enjoyed their meals and all left with a smile and a thank you to the cashier, so it's a matter of what I get on my next visit!

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