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May 11, 2011 05:30 PM

Les Pates Vivantes, either address

Yes, I've run a search of this board but haven't found anything decisive about Les Pates Vivantes, either the Faubourg Montmartre or the St. Germain venue. These comfort food noodles sound like a great just-got-back-to-town-on-a-Sunday-night dinner solution.

How do you locals evaluate LPV? Is either site better? Are they just tourist fodder? And/or, is there a better place for these hand-pulled noodles?

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  1. I went to the St. Germain venue last week. I can't speak to any other options in the Paris area, but I can compare LPV with hand-pulled noodles I've had in North American and in China.

    High marks for noodle quality and texture: the hand-pulled noodles had substantial texture and good heft, without being too heavy. I also tried their knife-shaved noodles (dao xiao mien), which are shaved off a block of dough into irregular, thick shards: at LPV these were too thin and not all that distinguishable from the hand-pulled noodles, so stick with the hand-pulled.

    The noodle preparations were only OK. I tried two: both were way too oily. (For calibration purposes, I have no problem with noodle dishes that are supposed to be oily, like dan dan mien and other Sichuan chili-oil-based dishes. LPV's noodles, in contrast, were much oilier than they needed to be.) I would steer clear of the sauteed / stir-fried noodles for this reason. I liked the composed noodle dish better, which included noodles, Chinese sausage, wood-ear mushrooms, a lot of toasted chili powder, and a modest amount of oily sauce. Because the sauce and other components were added to the already-boiled noodles and not cooked together, the noodles retained better texture and other flavors were more distinct. I think this dish was the last item on the two-page noodle section of the menu, at the far bottom right of the right-hand page, but I'm not sure.

    In short, worth checking out. It was good-enough fodder for this tourist who knows his noodles. But if I lived in Paris and wanted a just-got-back-to-town-on-a-Sunday-night dinner solution, I would get takeout from Lao Lane Xang or your favorite spot for Vietnamese bun instead.

    2 Replies
    1. re: david kaplan

      "Because the sauce and other components were added to the already-boiled noodles and not cooked together, the noodles retained better texture and other flavors were more distinct. I think this dish was the last item on the two-page noodle section of the menu, at the far bottom right of the right-hand page, but I'm not sure. "

      I think what you had was Zhajiang noodle (炸醬麵, or 炸酱面 as written in that resto and in the mainland). It is what I like to order there too, that and noodle with fermented vegetable.

      1. re: Parigi

        The dish I tried to describe was not Zhajiang noodle, which has a thick, sometimes sweet sauce, with ground meat. I saw that on the LPV menu, but the one I tried had a thin oily sauce, lots of dried chili powder, Chinese sausage slices, wood-ear mushrooms, and probably other elements I'm forgetting. Unlike Zhajiang mien, it was quite spicy and not at all sweet. Sorry I don't remember the exact name or all the detail.

    2. Have gone several times to the Pâte Vivantes on rue Fbd Montmartre since it is down the street from chez moi.
      When it first opened, the service was warm but not very efficient, and the food noodles were quite good.
      Now the service is efficient and the food is less good.

      I discussed this with northern Chinese friends, who got into a lively argument about it. The conclusion seemed to be: of course not as good as real Lanzhou pulled noodle, but better than the pulled noodle found in Shanghai or Nanjing. Then they were near tears missing real Lanzhou pulled noodle.

      I recommend it to French friends with small children because the children love the noodle-pulling performance. And this is a nice way to get a child to widen his palette early in life.

      I don't know of any other pulled-noodle restaurant in Paris. Am quite sure there aren't any other. Saw a tragic-comic post on the equivalent of chowhound mainly for Chinese students in Paris. A Chinese student in 2009 wrote pleading: "does anyone know wehre I can eat pulled noodle in Paris" The next post, by him again: "please." The next post, again by him: "I'm going mad." The next post, by him: "pulled noodle." He went groveling and begging solo for about half a dozen posts, before others started chiming in: "I'm going mad too." "I dream about it." Later in the thread, someone mentioned the opening of Les Pâte Vivantes. That was it.

      The Yunnanese noodle restaurant further north on rue Fbg Montmartre, called Carnet de Route, is much better, but without any noodle-pooling performance. The broth is very good. The "cross-the-bridge rice noodle" is not made-fresh the way they do it in Kunming, but, hell, Paris is not Kunming.
      Another strange plug for this resto: when you see the Chinese restaurant sign which stretches the entire width of the store front, with about 10 Chinese characters for the store name: "云南三和蒙自过桥米线" (Yunnan Inner Monolian Autonomous Region Cross-The-Bridge Noodle Restaurant, but am sure I left out something), it just smacks of PRC authenticity.

      1. I had a giggle reading your description of the Yunnan place. Have to go there someday (when I'm back from China).

        I do seem to remember there is another pulled-noodle restaurant in Paris on the top part of rue Beaubourg but that's not a precise memory. Have to check that. It's probably Wenzhou so not sure there's much to write home about there either.

        Yes sorry to sound a bit cynical, my opinion of Les Pâtes Vivantes is quite clear, some friends of mine exclaimed "It's just like China!" — I had a taste and replied: "Yes, it's just like China when it's not good in China." That's the best description I can give: authentic second-rate.

        I can only recommend the noodle bowls at Aux Délices de Shan Dong, especially the sesame noodles. That's like China when you're lucky (and let's be frank, it is not difficult to be lucky in China, which is why I find Les Pâtes Vivantes particularly unfortunate). Or if you want perfect rice noodles, have a try at the wide rice noodles and beef at Li Ka Fo.

        I probably would not be so mad at the whole thing if, soon after the buzz about Les Pâtes Vivantes began in Paris, we had not been so flooded with press and blog articles (including some from supposedly discriminating professional journalists) all raving about the place in terms like "Go there, it's terrific, at last some good Chinese food in Paris!" While other perfectly good Chinese restaurants have been in Paris for ages and this one is just not very good.

        But what the heck, that comes from the guys who write that Yoom is the first real dim sum restaurant in Paris.

        14 Replies
        1. re: Ptipois

          "what the heck, that comes from the guys who write that Yoom is the first real dim sum restaurant in Paris"

          Yeah what's that about? That place which serves dimsum WITH rice is full every night !

          1. re: Parigi

            OK, I'll bite...I'd love to know a good dim sum place in Paris...where is this, Parigi or Ptipois?

            I have to admit Les Pâtes Vivantes got me through a pretty cold winter last year, but clearly I need to look farther afield for the best.

            1. re: poppyquince

              ".I'd love to know a good dim sum place in Paris...where is this, Parigi or Ptipois?"

              Since you live in SF, my advice would be: wait till you get home. No place in Paris will come close to Yank Sing. In fact I have plans to mainline its half-soup dumpling when I go to SF for Thanxgiving this year.

              1. re: Parigi

                I'm actually living in Paris at the moment and assumed dim sum wouldn't be on my list for the time being, so I'm happy to hear that's not the case. And last time I was at Yank Sing, some months ago I was sorely disappointed. Not nearly as good as I remembered.

                  1. re: Parigi

                    Off-topic for this board, but there are far better places for xiao long bao in SF than Yank Sing. Check out the SF board and note Bund, Shanghai Dumpling King, and Shanghai House.

                    1. re: david kaplan

                      I like Xiao long bao ok, but what I love most is half-soup dumpling. -- Très très off-topic.

              2. re: poppyquince

                If you want dim sum in Paris, the selection at Tricotin, though not as lavish as what you may find in landmark Guangzhou places, is amazingly comparable in quality. Their taro fritters are even better than some I've had there.

                1. re: Ptipois

                  (So I'll know where to find it in my "favorites")

                  15 av de Choisy, 13th


                  1. re: Ptipois

                    Thanks very much! Is this typically a morning or lunch kind of place? I assume dim sum aren't available in the evening?

                    1. re: poppyquince

                      Dim sum traditionally is a morning thing of course, but the dimsum places in Paris serve well into the afternoon.

                      1. re: poppyquince

                        Tricotin is an all-day kind of place but it's particularly full between 10 am and 3 PM, dim sum time. That's when most people come for dim sum, duh, and noodle soups. Dim sum can also be ordered in the evening but that's less common.

                      2. re: Ptipois

                        Taro fritter is Hubby Poo's fave dimsum.
                        A century ago the old Nioulaville used to fry it fresh at the table. A suicidally depressed young waitress would push a cart with a frying wok and fry the stuff at the table. Sigh. Those were those days.

                        1. re: Parigi

                          Well, Hubby Poo should definitely try the Tricotin version. Best I've had, even in China.

                          They ain't half bad either at Le Pacifique and at this otherwise not very interesting Vietnamese place down a few steps on place Maubert.

                2. Thanks everyone for the good perspective on LPV. And a special thanks to David Kaplan who sent me on a Chow-surf that took me to San Dong House which is only 5 blocks from my house!


                  1 Reply
                  1. re: mangeur

                    If you live that close to San Dong House in SF and therefore also within a short ride of the bounty that is SF's Richmond and Sunset, then I'd say there's no reason at all to go to LPV.

                  2. About a year and a half ago, I really, really loved Pâtes Vivantes. Especially the sesame noodles with chicken. I preferred the branch on Faubourg Montmartre but then the St-Germain location opened and it was closer to my apartment. We ate there often. I still think it's a good place to meet friends for lunch on a Sunday, especially friends with kids. But on my last few visits, I've noticed a decided drop in quality at Pâtes Vivantes. Or are we just getting tired of it? Hard to say. A few years ago, I also noticed the same drop in quality at Délices de Shandong and stopped going there as well.