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Vietnamese in Paris

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Sandra W Oct 2, 2007 10:17 PM

I'm from Southern California where we have a large Vietnamese population and terrific food. Any recommendations for good Vietnamese in Paris? TIA -

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    SFGourmande RE: Sandra W Oct 2, 2007 10:52 PM

    Hmm, I'm trying to remember places there. I lived in Paris for 3 yars and I had a lot of trouble finding good Asian food there. If you go to the Rue Ste Anne in the 2nd arrondisement there are a lot of asian restaurants there that are not specifically vietnamese but maybe the closest thing you are going to get there. There is one that specifically looks like a mess hall but I liked it and we were always some of the only white people in there which is always a good sign. Being from San Francisco I was always really disappointed. Good luck!

    2 Replies
    1. re: SFGourmande
      PhilD RE: SFGourmande Oct 3, 2007 12:36 AM

      I also found it very difficult to get good Asian food when I lived in Paris. I suspect part of the problem is that a lot of Asian cuisines are based on strong spicing that is at odds with French taste.

      I am Australian who has lived in Asia and travelled extensively therefore my expectations may be fairly high when it comes to Asian food, however I am often surprised by how many recommendations there are for Asian food in Paris. It really isn't that good.

      Compare and contrast Asian food in London and Paris (a short train ride apart). London has Michelin starred Asian restaurants like Hakkasan for Chinese, or Benares for Indian,or Nahm for Thai, plus it has a plethora of other wonderful innovative/authentic Asian restaurants.

      1. re: PhilD
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        SFGourmande RE: PhilD Oct 4, 2007 12:04 AM

        I know, I suspect you are right about the typical french palate not really connecting with asian flavors, especially anything spicy. I was so glad to get back to San Fancisco and eat asian oo again. I think it is also really hard to get the right ingrediants, maybe they just aren't available. Mexican food is also another cuisine that the french absolutely slaughter. Come to think of it, the best food I had in France was french food and moroccan food. hmmm

    2. Chinon00 RE: Sandra W Oct 4, 2007 03:48 AM

      Did you relocate to Paris or are you visiting and coming back to Southern California at some point?

      1. LikeFrogButOOOH RE: Sandra W Oct 4, 2007 04:29 AM

        I've been looking for good Vietnamese as well, having relocated about a month ago for cooking school. From what I understand, Rue St. Anne is really more of a Parisian Japantown while Port de Choisy in the 13th is better for Chinese and Vietnamese cuisines. Being half Japanese, I've made the trip out to Rue St. Anne maybe about three times, and the great majority of the restaurants I've seen have been Japanese.

        There are quite a few options on Rue de Choisy, directly off the metro stop, for Vietnamese. I went once with two friends, one a Vietnamese girl whose parents own a Vietnamese restaurant in Oklahoma, to a place recommended by Pim (of Chez Pim) called Le Bambou. Though it fulfilled my own pho craving, it did not do the same for my friend. She pointed out that it was too sweet for her and when I tasted it again, I realized that she was completely right. We are still on the hunt, though, so I would love to get the opinions of those who have lived in Paris longer than I have.

        4 Replies
        1. re: LikeFrogButOOOH
          souphie RE: LikeFrogButOOOH Oct 4, 2007 06:24 AM

          I mentioned these places earlier in the board as good vietnamese in Paris:

          Lac Hong, rue Lauriston and in Guyancourt

          Ba Co, rue Croix Nivert

          Thao Ly, rue Berthollet

          Pho 14, avenue de Choisy

          Also one rue de Belleville whose name I can't remember, always packed.

          1. re: souphie
            PhilD RE: souphie Oct 4, 2007 09:24 AM

            Maybe these are exceptions - I haven't been to these so I can't judge.

            However, isn't it a bit like recommending a good French restaurant in Cleveland. It may be popular, the locals may love it, but it is probably isn't a great French restaurant (sorry - don't mean to insult Cleveland). OK there are Asian restaurants in Paris, yes they are popular with locals, but are they good? Or are they simply the best of poor to average restaurants?

            I mentioned London restaurants in my first post because it illustrates this point well. Quite a number of Asian restaurants there are world class. They represent the cuisines of their respective countries very well with cooking as good as the best in those countries.

            In Paris there are lots of Asian restaurants but from my experience they aren't that good. Potentially useful if you want to refresh the taste buds after a surfeit of great French food, but generally I used to feel let down after the meal because they fail to deliver.

            As I have said before I suspect their problem is that they need to cater for the local market and French tastes don't generally go for true Asian spicing. To be even more contentious I would also say that the same is true of a lot of North African food in Paris, the mainstream restaurants tailor their cooking to the French palette, you need to go off the beaten track to experience more authentic spicing.

            1. re: PhilD
              souphie RE: PhilD Oct 5, 2007 12:41 AM

              In my opinion, the idea that authenticity is better is a pure belief. I find it even stranger when it comes to comparing Californian and French Asian restaurants, since I fail to see how the Californians would be more authentic. Are Vietnamese that moved to Paris less Vietnamese than the one who moved to the US? Food is not the same in different places. If you have very specific expectations, you should indeed go where you know they will be met. If you like good, Asian-style food there are plenty of very good places in Paris -- and plenty of very bad, just like with any kind of food of Paris. Ever tasted an average croque monsieur? That makes you appreciate fasting. Of course restaurants are adapted to local tastes and local products -- even MacDonalds are.

              Plus, if you like "true Asian spicing", in most good places, you just have to ask. There is luckily much more to Asian cooking than spices.

              The Chinese and Vietnamese restaurants are fully part of the Parisian gastronomic experience -- see Chen in the 15th, Vong in the 1st, or Lac Hong for a quintessential demonstration of this.

              Second le Palanquin as well.

              1. re: souphie
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                Oakglen RE: souphie Oct 5, 2007 08:44 AM

                I believe Tan Dinh was once considered the top Viet restaurant. We had mixed results. One of our dishes had that "been too long in the fridge" taste. Everything else was quite good. No plastic. And the owner/chef, the only one who speaks English, has "attitude".

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          Bagel in France RE: Sandra W Oct 5, 2007 12:19 AM

          Le Palanquin 12, rue Princesse 6eme arr. is the best! Nice decor, friendly owners, excellent food, a good value. We went with our two young children and had a faulous meal. True vietnamese cuisine.

          1 Reply
          1. re: Bagel in France
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            Fuffy RE: Bagel in France Oct 6, 2007 01:14 PM

            We went to Palanquin once two or three years ago and, although several guides like it, we found it a little ho hum.

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