Apr 25th, 2019, 11:34 AM

Calling All Sushi Lovers in Paris!

By Chanet Smith
Sushi offered at the festival. Image Credit: Chanet Smith
The first annual sushi festival took place in Paris.

This past weekend, April 20-21, Parc Floral de Paris hosted its first annual sushi festival, the largest of its kind in Europe. Reaching almost 80 degrees this weekend, it was a bit concerning to go and eat raw fish in the blazing sun, but surprisingly, it was held inside an events center within the park. Numerous food stalls and trucks lined the walls with a bar that included sake tasting. Live Japanese music was playing on a shamisen guitar. There were people sitting at tables in workshops learning how to make sushi, origami, and more. And, of course, a special highlight of Japanese karaoke that echoed through the venue.

sushi festival paris
A chef making an original Japenese dish. Image Credit: Chanet Smith

Online, you could find three different time sessions of tickets to control venue flow, with general admission only at 11 euros. Sadly, the ‘sushi creations’ ticket was sold out for both days, where the ticket came with either a sushi burrito/donut/burger. Upon arriving, the space was much smaller than I imagined. It lacked a bit in Japanese culture in a few of the stands and was quite pricey. Why would a Thai food truck and Cuban bar be featured at this venue?

‘Jetons’ were used to buy food, and you had to exchange the money at different stands. 20 euros for 8 jetons seemed like a very high price. Ironically, the traditional Japanese stalls were much cheaper than the European Japanese stalls. Some of the foods featured were Japanese shaved ice and matcha waffles, sushi (of course), Japanese street food like squid balls and vegetable pancakes, Bao buns, Gyozas, and Mochi. I was most surprised to see ‘Taiyaki’ which was amazing and filled with Nutella.

sushi festival paris
Taiyaki filled with Nutella. Image Credit: Chanet Smith

The MOST memorable part of the event was the first few front stalls. They were all speaking Japanese, making sushi and cooking with such skill; you could tell they were Japan natives trying to bring authenticity to this festival. These two specific stalls had lines wrapping around the corner and people standing around to film them cook. I was mesmerized by the man wrapping fatty tuna on sushi rice and painting it slightly with a soy-based sauce. Three pieces of sushi tuna and three rolls for only 2 jetons.

sushi festival paris
Nigiri making process. Image Credit: Chanet Smith

I walked out of the venue full and greatly satisfied. Luckily, on such a beautiful day, I got to enjoy the park for a while after. Parc Floral de Paris has a Japanese theme to it with Zen gardens, bonsai trees, tulip gardens, a bamboo forest, and rock formations. There were even ponds with koi fish. The park itself was so large that you could rent bicycle karts to get around it. It became very obvious why they picked this location for the first Japanese Sushi festival of Paris.

This festival has a lot of potential to grow for next year with better and a more structured theme as well as more selective food stalls. It had many great attributes and the effort was there. If more stalls held the same authenticity as the few in the front, then this festival has the potential to be a ‘must-go’ event in Paris. Many Japanese-speaking visitors attended along with the French and tourists and everyone seemed to enjoying the ambiance on this sunny day.

sushi festival paris
One of the many stalls in the park offering traditional Japenese food. Image Credit: Chanet Smith