The notion of a long boozy lunch is about as Australian as a game of cricket on Christmas. In Paris, however lunchtime has a well-observed time frame of 12.30-14.00pm. So when friends from home come to visit they are often shocked to find they are being shown the restaurant sortie well before the sozzling has started. Luckily (or perhaps not so for the establishment) I can now direct them to Haï Kaï; the hip new Canal-side restaurant that opens its doors from 10am til midnight, 6 days a week.
Haï Kaï (a reference to a form of traditional Japanese verse) is the new venture by the fabulously diverse threesome, chef Amélie Darvas (ex Bristol, Meurice, Ami Jean), foodie/wine connoisseur/photographer Gaby Benicio and comedian/interior decorator Elsa Kikoïne.
Don’t be fooled by the tagged-up façade – the sleek, light-filled interior is all hardcore normcores sipping Chablis and eavesdropping on the open kitchen. Indeed Haï Kaï has all the elements of a successful bobo hangout with its Scandi design, delicious, light, innovative flower-topped dishes and peonies on the counter in as many shades as there are styles of Nike Air Max under the tables.
Darvas serves up ever-changing dishes that are equally as stunningly on the palate as they are on the plate. We devoured our delightful prix-fixe lunch menu (€17 for two courses or €23 for three), which included a serving of juicy tender pork with the most incredibly moreish mustard mash, line-caught mackerel and a mouthwatering coconut lime crème brûlée, while basking in the sun filled room overlooking Canal Saint Martin. Beautiful, unpretentious food, in a stylish, welcoming space – Haï Kaï is indeed a welcome addition to the canal-side community.
What can I say? You had me at Haï.
Emerald Bond (author of www.agoodforking.com)
104, quai de Jemmapes Paris 75010
+33 9 81 99 98 88
metro: Jacques Bonsergent, Goncourt, Colonel Fabien