I have a love-hate relationship with San Diego. Maybe “hate” is too strong a word. I love the weather and natural beauty; I “regret” the lack of culture and good food. I have discussed this dilemma with many San Diegans—why is San Diego, the eighth largest city in the country, bigger than foodie playgrounds San Francisco and Seattle, so devoid of intellectual curiosity and an ambitious restaurant scene? The two go hand in hand, if you ask me. If you’re not curious about the outside world, and, let’s say, never travel to places other than Las Vegas (Disneyland for adults) or Hawaii (San Diego on steroids), how do you expect to compete as a cosmopolitan city if you don’t know what other cities have to offer? Hone your taste buds by eating a shrimp po’ boy on toasted buttery bread in New Orleans; or paper-thin egg pasta with Brussels sprouts and pancetta in North Beach, San Francisco; or Szechuan soup spiked with chili oil and scallions in Flushing, Queens; then tell me you don’t demand more from your chefs back home. I don’t blame it on the chefs either. Try making an inventive meal and having someone who thinks “Sandra Lee Semi-Homemade” is tops push it around on her plate.
Passage 53 was our last major reservation of the trip. We had been buttered, basted, and foie gras’d the past week and thought we had seen all the tricks. But we were about to be blown away. As mentioned, it was all hands on deck with my family making sure we found the best eateries in Paris. We sifted through magazine top 10 guides and newspaper write-ups, consulted friends, compared notes, and honed the list (you may have realized food is a blood sport in my family by now). This one came highly recommended by my brother’s colleague working in Paris: “A Japanese chef who has worked in France for many years; in one of Paris’s most charming covered galleries; one of the city’s best-kept secrets.”