KOEDO, ekiben pioneer

An expert in ekiben and bento, KOEDO now has four locations in the western outskirts of Paris. The company continues to evolve, but its priority remains the same: the taste of home-cooked Japanese cuisine.

In February 2015, a new and unusual eatery appeared in Issy-les-Moulineaux, a business district in the southwest suburbs of Paris where many international companies are located. It immediately attracted attention with its original concept and aesthetics inspired by tachigui ("where one eats standing up") often found on Japanese train platforms. KOEDO was the first ekiben stand in France when it opened at Issy-Val-de-Seine station. Ekiben, which roughly translates as "bento station," is a true institution in the Land of the Rising Sun. Before taking the train, the Japanese are accustomed to buying complete and balanced box-lunches whose contents vary according to local cuisine and season. KOEDO offers its customers authentic Japanese bentos because, according to owner Estelle Miquel, who herself lived in Japan: "Here the international clientele has well-traveled tastebuds and wants authenticity." Previously unknown in France, ekiben is quickly gaining a following among office workers and travelers nostalgic for Japan, even though the owner emphasizes that "running an ekiben shop in the Paris region is a long-term endeavor."

KOEDO 1st restaurant (Issy Val de Seine Station)

Authentic Japanese cuisine

Quickly, the 29 square-meter Issy-Val-de-Seine location was no longer sufficient to cook and prepare KOEDO's bentos. In November 2016, a lab and an adjoining restaurant were set up on the nearby Île Saint-Germain and then, in January 2017, a second 5-square-meter stand opened at Pont du Garigliano station. It is in the laboratory on Île Saint-Germain that the ekiben are prepared to supply the stands at the two RER C stations. Estelle Miquel, whose primary ambition is to recreate the flavors of Japan, is in constant pursuit of the "taste of mom's cooking" that she discovered there. To achieve this, she also relies on her many colleagues from Japan who are well-versed in the ingredients of their homeland.

The bento boxes are filled with chicken, salmon, various vegetables, and rice but also, for vegetarians, with eggplant in miso, karaage (fried chicken), taro, chanpuru (a sautéed dish of vegetables and tofu), and sesame-crusted tofu. Desserts range from creamy azuki to matcha tiramisu. Everything is homemade from fresh ingredients, reminiscent of what the Japanese family with whom Estelle Miquel lived prepared in her youth. The "common" vegetables come from the market in Issy-les-Moulineaux. Meat and fish come from small shops in Neuilly-sur-Seine. While favoring fresh French products, KOEDO pays particular attention to the choice of Japanese ingredients, both for basic seasonings such as miso, soy sauce, mirin, and sake, and for sesame seeds or panko breadcrumbs. Its Japonica variety rice, which remains flavorful even when cold, is an essential element of KOEDO's bentos.

Breaded chicken bento

Plain chiffon cake, White chocolate matcha chiffon cake, Kinako mousse, Red bean cookie

Table Square

The fourth KOEDO outlet was established in 2020, this time a bit further north and not in a train station but at Table Square, a chic and trendy location situated on the esplanade of La Défense. Designed by a specialist in Japanese decoration, the interior of this new restaurant exudes an airy and modern atmosphere. It features a spacious terrace offering breathtaking views of the Agam fountain and the Grande Arche, and offers a wide variety of Japanese flavors. From Monday to Friday, starting at 7:30 in the morning, it is possible to have breakfast there (with an ogura tosuto, a slice of soft Japanese sandwich bread topped with butter and azuki cream), and at lunchtime, people line up on the square to savor the famous bento or the Japanese curry of the day, to be enjoyed on-site or to take away. In the afternoon, people come to enjoy ice cream or Japanese tea, and evenings until 10 p.m. the restaurant turns into an izakaya, a sort of tapas bar. Everyone finds something: some enjoy inarizushi (sweet and salty stuffed fried tofu with vinegared rice) while sipping on a Japanese beer of their choice, while others share dishes with their colleagues while toasting with sake or shochu. To meet the expectations of its customers, who come as much for the flavors of Japan as for its ambiance, KOEDO prioritizes a warm atmosphere as well as a selection of Japanese products that starts with small condiments such as mustard and pickled ginger.


Japanese curry

Innovation, always

Since the pandemic of 2020, the restaurants located at the foot of the towers of La Défense have become much less lucrative. The repayment of the PGE (State-guaranteed loan during the lockdown) is suffocating them, and telecommuting, which has become the norm, has changed the game. Now, most employees are present at the office only two to three days a week, preferring remote work on Mondays and Fridays. As a result, La Défense is more or less deserted four days a week. To compensate for this loss of clientele, and despite selling 200 to 350 bentos every day, the owner of KOEDO, who is never short of ideas, is expanding her catering business, delivering meal trays and even made-to-order pastries to companies. The team designs a variety of delights based on current trends: in addition to daifuku (mochi), mousses with kinako (soybean powder) or yuzu are very successful. The restaurant can also be rented out for events, and Esther Miquel is making every effort to organize tastings of products still unknown in the French market. She is also very involved in creating menus for events highlighting new ingredients (such as Japanese seafood), as well as in the development of ultra-green packaging for bentos. As she puts it so well: "There is no other choice but to reinvent oneself," and KOEDO continues to evolve with new products and innovative ideas, while preserving the "unchanging taste" of Japan so dear to its founder.


Estelle Miquel

7 rue Rouget-de-Lisle
92130 Issy-les-Moulineaux
Monday through Friday: 8:30 am -8:30 pm
28 avenue du Bas-Meudon
92130 Issy-les-Moulineaux
Monday to Thursday: 11 am -2:30 pm
Friday: 11 am -2:30 pm and 6:30 pm -10 pm
Rue du Professeur-Florian-Delbarre
75015 Paris
Monday to Friday: 11:45 am -2 pm
77/86 esplanade de La Défense
92400 Courbevoie
Monday to Friday 7:30 am -10 pm


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