Things move slowly in France and, for those of us who live here, this is often a frustrating reality. Extended waits at stores like Darty or BHV to simply return a purchase, the long lines at your local boulangerie as everyone has their morning conversations with the baker- all take a little extra time out of our day. We accept this slower pace of life and most of all we learn to live with it, but rarely do we take time to love it.
At Mokonuts, the newest chéri of the Paris restaurant scene, the service is on point- but the food embraces the beauty of life slowed down. The menu focuses on quality ingredients- locally sourced and impeccably in season- prepared with a similar appreciation of time. On a recent April afternoon lunch, I enjoyed a springtime feast with a friend, where we shared starters and an entrée, all bursting with the colors of the season, coaxed from their original state under the guidance of a patient and skilled chef.
Roasted green asparagus (served with orach greens and feta, 9 euro) were slowly cooked until they reached a balance of the buttery goodness that makes us love asparagus season and the crispiness that makes eating fresh vegetables fun. Similarly, the line caught pollack with fennel and green beans (17 euro) was melt-in-your mouth delicious while retaining its rawness and salty sea taste.
Chef Omar Koreitem brings his sense of timing to the kitchen at Mokonuts, where he gently transforms stellar produce and other ingredients into simple dishes that give Parisians a reason for pause. The overwhelming success that Omar and his partner in business and life, Moko Hirayama, have seen with the opening of their first joint venture has surely forced them to pick up the pace to keep up with demand. Yet, the popularity of this small restaurant in the 11th arrondissement hasn’t changed the rhythm in the kitchen, where flavors are allowed to reveal themselves unbothered by the buzz of a crowded dining room.
Along with his slow food approach, Omar also brings influences of his Lebanese roots to his cuisine- evident in the refreshing bowl of Lebneh sprinkled with mustard flowers and za’atar (7 euro) which makes a welcome Mediterranean starter that inspires you to slow down a busy day. A bright orange blossom lemonade (3 euro) accompanied our spring meal perfectly, but if you’re looking for something stronger Mokonuts has a thoughtful natural wine and craft beer menu full of tasty adult beverages (beer: 6.50 euro/bottle Wine: 26-60 euro/bottle).
When it comes to desert, or a snack to go with your coffee break, Moko has you covered. The former pastry chef at Yam’Tcha, brings Japanese ingredients to American-style cookies to create tempting combinations like chocolate chip with sesame seeds and peanut butter and miso cookies (2.50 euro each). You also won’t want to miss the ever changing selection of cakes and tarts (4-5 euro). On my visit, a rustic tart bursting with tendrils of pink and sea foam green rhubarb was calling my name.
Mokonuts calls itself a “café bakery” but it’s so much more- a bustling lunch spot, a sought after dinner reservation, and a place for great coffee and baked goods in between meal times. The wine and beer menu make it a contender for a “must visit” list for connaisseurs and the welcoming ambience has made Mokonuts a local hangout. But most of all, Mokonuts is a reminder that in a city where speed is sought after, sometimes there are advantages of taking it slow.
Mokonuts – 5 rue Saint Bernard 75011. Open Monday – Friday 8h45-18h. Métro : Ledru Rollin (ligne 8), Reuilly Diderot (ligne 1 & 8).
Looking for more Asian inspired cuisine? Check out our article on Yam’Tcha