Restaurant Reviews

Petit Usagi: Bento Box Dining on Paris’ Canal Saint Martin

by Kim Laidlaw

Although fabulous French food abounds in Paris, too many steak tartares and croque monsieurs can leave you yearning for something different. To rescue you from the Paris-Brasserie slump is this little gem of a japanese spot right on the canal, Petit Usagi. We can’t wait to grab one of these bento boxes and linger over dinner on the canal! -Geneviève

Situated on the ground floor of the new boutique Citizen Hotel, Petit Usagi is the tiny new outpost of the Northern Marais eatery, Usagi. Run by Shinsuke Kawahara, the lunch-crowd favorite serves a selection of healthy and simple Japanese options overlooking the trendy Canal Saint Martin.

The bijou yet airy and light-filled space is decorated with lots of blonde wood, cheerful touches of sunny yellow and cobalt blue, and an abundance of mini Japanese lanterns with a bunny motif (usagi means rabbit in Japanese).

Petit Usagi’s speciality is the bento box — which is essentially the Japanese version of a lunch box — providing you with protein, veggies and some kind of grain in one cute little airline-like platter. The simple, healthy bentos come in three incarnations (veggie, meat and fish) and are served with a soup of the day and tea as part of the fixed-price menu (€15-18).

The vegetarian option has tofu balls with peanut sauce and soba noodles with seasonal vegetables, whilst the fish and meat options vary daily but include delights such as salmon with black sesame or chicken curry, both served with rice. To drink, there is a shiso (Japanese basil) infusion, organic ginger infusion or green tea as part of the fixed-priced menu, or Kirin beer or wine by the glass for those on less of a detox vibe.

On the dessert menu: homemade cake, agar agar (Japanese panna cotta) and fruit compotes. The bento boxes can also be ordered for delivery for those living or working in the area, and they are a great fair-weather picnic option for al fresco dining along the canal.

Petit Usagi
96, Quai de Jemmapes (Le Citizen Hotel), 75010
+33 (0)1.83.62.55.50
Métro: Jacques Bonsergent
Open: Tues – Sun, noon – 4pm

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Written by Kim Laidlaw Adrey. All images courtesy of Kim Laidlaw Adrey. Looking for a fabulous vacation rental in Paris, Provence, or Tuscany? Check out Haven in Paris.

Written By

Kim Laidlaw

London-import Kim Laidlaw is the creator of insider city guide Unlock Paris. After studying History of Art at the Ecole du Louvre, she decided to make Paris her home and has lived here for 8 years and counting. Kim writes travel guides for Lonely Planet, Thames and Hudson and Dorling Kindersley, and articles for the BBC and Conde Nast, as well as copywriting for ad agencies in Paris and copyediting for several fashion magazines, including Fashion For Men and Self Service. View Kim Laidlaw's Website

7 comments on “Petit Usagi: Bento Box Dining on Paris’ Canal Saint Martin

Hi Kim. Sounds good!! This weather is the pits.

Erica – once the sun comes back out, let’s go! There are such big windows and it looks over the canal – so much more pleasant on a nice sunny day. Kim x

I’d forgotten the delights of Japanese cooking after 10 years in the French countryside. I used to enjoy a Bento box when I was in the editing suites in Soho, in the days when I directed commercials – another life!

Kim, when are we going? I have been wanting to try since you mentioned it to me! – Erica

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