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Apr 25, 2010 08:23 PM

Non-"French" food in Paris

We are honeymooning in Paris and Monte Carlo. Both of us love food but neither like heavy or cream sauces or dishes made with a lot of butter or oil. I dont eat seafood of any kind and I only eat a few types of vegetables.My fiance loves sushi and all fish. Ive eaten at Robuchon in Vegas, Alinea in Chicago, Daniel in NY, French Laundry in California and many other "french" places, and while I enjoyed the food, I always have to customize the tasting menu (beef, lamb, duck, pork, buffalo, no fish, no mushrooms, etc) or carefully order ala carte. So we are looking for something that will fit my limited tastes. We prefer fun to formal and love asian influenced cuisine. Ive searched this site and others but havent gotten a good feel for where to eat. Thank you so much!

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  1. In my neighborhood alone, I can count three sushi and other Japanese parlors, I can easily walk to and another three only one Metro stop away. But whereas in the old days, they were lower cost alternatives to French restos, nowadays they’re competing for the ceiling range. In September 2008, famed chef Eiichi Edakuni opened Guilo-Guilo on the Mont and with a 48 € menu, even with beer not wine, it was hard for the two of us to get out for under 127 €. The food was good but did it merit all the hype? Indeed, as we walked home, Colette and I debated prix-qualité of Guilo versus other places. A few months before I’d passed a place on the bus I often take and on reading Caroline Mignot’s review of Enishi, reserved and ate there. Not nearly as fancy nor hyped nor pretentious as Guilo, it was the kind of solid Japanese cuisine I’d enjoyed in Japan, the West Coast and New York and one can easily exit for 30 € pp. Likewise, Shan Gout in the 12th, chef’d by the amiable Shan Yi, who looks like he’s 15 but cooks like he’s 55 represents the sort of solid but really delicious Chinese food one doesn’t get often in Paris. A slight detour here. Starting if memory serves me around 1989, another phenomenon occurred in Paris, the opening of fusion (Japanese-French) restaurants or French places chef’d by Japanese cooks – places such as Carte Postal, Stella Maris and most recently Hide. They were usually staffed front room and back by folks trained in the French system not imported directly from the Far East. Probably the newest of these is the Concert de Cuisine in the 15th, where the talented Naoto Masumoto, ex-Nikko, holds forth and serves up wonderful food for under 100 € a couple. In an ironic but perhaps inevitable twist of fate, one of the hottest places serving Asian or Asianesque food today is Yam’Cha, where Adeline Grattard, herself trained in Hong Kong and married to a Chinese tea-expert runs a tasty and tight ship and just got a Michelin star to boot. Is this the start of an increase in the exchange flow back to France (like Gilles Choukroun's MBC and William Ledeuil's Ze Kitchen Galerie and KGB)?
    Le Concert de Cuisine
    14, rue Nelaton in the 15th, (Metro: Bir-Hakeim)
    Closed Sundays and Saturday and Monday lunch
    Lunch menus = 24 & 29, dinner 40 & 57 €.

    Shan Gout
    22, rue Hector Malo, 12th (Metro: Gare de Lyon)
    Closed Mondays
    A la carte about 30 €

    67, rue Labat, 18th, (Metro: Lamarck-Caulincourt)
    T: 01 42 57 32 14
    Closed Wednesdays
    Menus = 10-20 €.

    4, rue Sauval in the 1st, (Metro: Les Halles, Sentier)
    T: 01 40 26 08 07
    Closed Mondays and Tuesdays
    Lunch menu at 30 €, tasting menu 65 and dinner 45 €.

    John Talbott's Paris

    1. Not all French food is heavy or cream sauces or made with lots of butter. That's what American grads from snotty culinary schools like to tell you (I'm a former dean of one and can tell you my chefs tried to lay that line of BS on me so often I started to fire people!) , but it ain't so. Several folks on this thread can direct you to excellent places that have wonderful menus without the crap.

      They'll be along directly. In the interim, Google on John Talbott and listen up.

      And, I might ask, why in the world would you spend money to travel and house yourselves in Paris to eat (fill-in-the-blank-with-ANY-ethnic-food other than French!)??!! You can eat pizza at in your hometown.

      7 Replies
      1. re: hychka

        I agree with Hychka, 99% of restaurant menus in France will have food you like. Heavy cream or butter sauces are not common and easily avoided. Obviously don't go to a specialist seafood restaurant as it won't have much meat, but regular restaurants will usually have a wide choice of fish for your wife. If you go upmarket and have degustation menus you will need to substitute, but it is probably simpler and better for you to stay ALC. Do check out he daily "menus" at restaurants, they will be limited choice but also will usually be quite simple dishes (as they are done to a price point - so no fancy sauces).

        Thus best advice is to choose nice places from the board and not get hung up on the food. Simply choose what you like.

        1. re: PhilD

          I would add that in a really good restaurant you might consume much more butter and cream than you are aware of. It's there, but done well it is not in your face. The reputation of heavy sauces is from a different era.

          1. re: mangeur

            Thank you everyone for your great ideas and insights. Ill report back.

            1. re: mangeur

              And I would add to that addition that butter and cream are not all bad. Heavy sauces are indeed from a different era, but you can still get them in some places and they're thoroughly enjoyable. Probably shouldn't call them "heavy" then...

              1. re: souphie

                "Heavy sauces are indeed from a different era, but you can still get them in some places and they're thoroughly enjoyable. Probably shouldn't call them "heavy" then"

                How true. I'd call them rich instead of heavy.
                Depending on the region, the cuisine could indeed be rich that way.
                Throw me to the wolves: after a week in Annecy - with its Burgundy-Lyon-inspired rich sauces, - or in the Lot - with foie gras up my wazoo - I always start fantasizing about a simple phö.
                But Paris or the côte d'Azur - the OP's two destinations - are not regions known for this rich approach. There are quite a few good eateries in La Turbie (the much much cooler village above Monte Carlo), les Hauts de Cagnes and Antibes. All the ones I went to had a distinctly light touch.

                And I observe that in many of France's major cities, the more sophisticated bistros have an Asian influence sneaked in their dishes, but not to the extent of becoming a fusion genre.

                I can't advise on how to administer the your dietary do's&don'ts. Since you are used to customizing taste menus with restaurants, you must know what to do.
                Since this is your lovey-dovey honeymoon, and if both of you have tasting menus, then you can give your fiancé your seafood dishes and he can give you the meat dishes, instead of asking the restaurnat to do complex juggling.
                I have a couple of allergies but not an extensive restriction list like yours. My husband and I routine switch dishes this way. He is overjoyed to eat my rejects since they tend to be ingredients we never eat at home.
                Mushroom is a seasonal ingredient (autumn). Depending on when you honeymoon, you may not need to worry about it.

                And congratulations on your honeymoon.

              2. re: mangeur

                A few years ago The New Yorker ran an article on dining in high-end restaurants and the enormous amounts of butter used, especially in the preparation of vegetables. The average use of butter per diner in this type of restaurant was something like 1/2 to 1 pound. Read the Per Se cookbook and you'll be amazed at the amount of butter used in each recipe!

              3. re: PhilD

                I've been thinking about ssh's question and PhilD's comments for a week or so and find in them a solution to a dilemma my wife and I have been worried about re our Paris visit in two weeks. I am obese and have been working with Weight Watchers (lost 37 pounds since New Years Day!). As many know, Weight Watchers impose a points system that avoids fat and leans toward "filling foods." How do I stick to "healthy eating" while in Paris? As at home we have to eat out frequently, we both pour over the menu tossing out "unhealthy" entries and sharing "healthy choices." Narrowing down the menu to three to seven possibilities, we then bargain for two to share. In the US we find that this works almost brother-in-law insists on Steak & Shake and it doesn't work there.

                Better places always have "healthy choices" if you really look for them.

            2. ssh
              On reading all these posts from folk who really know what there talking about I've come to the conclusion as well that you should relax and simply enjoy what you find in Paris. I think my strategy if I were your guide would be to take you to a modern French-French place that offers straightforward good products cooked well (of which there are a lot mentioned here - off the top of my head I'd pick out Le Marcab, l'Agrume and Le 122 as three of this variety) and if you liked it, continue that way before going searching for non-French places.
              I'm trying to think of the last time I felt overwhelmed with cream and butter and it must be a decade ago with a lievre royale at Ecaille & Plume.

              2 Replies
              1. re: John Talbott

                There was cream in their lièvre à la royale? No wonder they closed.

                1. re: souphie

                  No cream maybe, but lotsa fat: All I felt afterwards was/were the fat globules circulating around the Circle of Willis. And I'm sure they closed due to my impending cerebral crisis. The fact that it now appears to be an Insurance Company may be indicative.

              2. Paris, being a world class city, has dozens of "non-french" restaurants!

                Just about any type from a myriad of ethnicities, you can find Middle Estern, North African, Chinese, Japanese, Greek, italian, Vietnamese, and Spanish, just to name a few.

                I've found that an excellent resource for non-french restos is the Pudlo Paris. Grouped by arrondissement, with a section for each with "other restaurants", meaning non-French.

                As far as Monte Carlo, you will find better restaurants in France, particularly Nice and environs. You're also only 20 minutes from Italy, with some FABULOUS food in Bordighera!

                I'm not a big fan of Monaco, too many tourists, too many tourist traps.