Naruto is a small, completely Japanese-run restaurant in the heart of the old town. It's less than a year old and so is new and clean. When you enter, you feel as if you have gone to Japan. I visited it 4 times, twice for dinner and twice for lunch, between mid-Sept. and mid-Oct. 2010, always with one or more Japanese. I have lived in Japan for a total of nearly 5 years, so my assessment is based on Japanese food in Japan.
I recommend this restaurant if you want a change of pace from French and Italian food or if you have a hankering for a Japanese meal. I do have some caveats.
First, the vegetable dishes are amazing! One night we were served dengaku (boiled Japanese radish with a miso topping) that I told them should be put on the menu it was so good. The ohitashi (spinach "salad") is also excellent, and the Japanese potato salad is possibly the best I have ever eaten. I liked the vegetable dishes so much that by my final visit I was just ordering vegetable sides with rice and miso soup. I'd rate these an A.
The fried food, tonkatsu and tempura, I would rank in the B range. Good but not exquisite. Tended to be slightly greasy, but so are these dishes in most popular restaurants in Japan. Oddly, the tonkatsu comes accompanied by lettuce without a dressing instead of the traditional shredded cabbage.
The sushi and sashimi seemed to be the most popular items, judging by what the people around me were ordering, but a friend who had a set sushi dinner wasn't terribly happy with it. I stay away from raw fish in areas not near the sea and non-speciality restaurants so I can't comment.
The agedashi dofu I tasted wasn't very good. The tofu was the hard kind found in much of Europe, not Japanese-style, and it wasn't well enough fried. I'd give it a C-.
The only item I couldn't eat was the yakitori, chicken on a skewer. In Japan, this dish consists of bits of chicken on skewers which is grilled fresh for each customer. It's seasoned with soy sauce or salt. At Naruto, the chicken was pressed onto the skewers as if made in a mold, covered with a thick sweet sauce, and served not quite lukewarm. It tasted as if it had been frozen, thawed, and then inadequately heated in a microwave. I couldn't eat it, but the owner said the French liked it. An American woman who sat next to me at one meal had had yakitori in a previous visit and was ordering this again. But don't expect yakitori you would get in Japan.
The restaurant serves excellent rice. Twice it was freshly cooked, on the other two visits it had been warmed up. That and the varying quality of the various dishes is why I think of this restaurant as serving home cooked meals.
The staff are all lovely people and we always had excellent service. Though we communicated in Japanese, they speak French and English as well. We kept going back both because we wanted some simple Asian food and because the restaurant is such a friendly, cozy place.
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