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Sep 28, 2012 06:50 AM

Cheap, African, Asian, South Asian, and of course French - Paris

Hello all,

I'm a frequent poster on the UK/Ireland and Outer Boroughs boards. I tend to post about South Asian and regional Chinese food, but I eat literally anything. I'm in the process of doing my homework as far as where I'll be eating is concerned and the recent Belleville post has been very helpful. That pretty much checks off my Laotian desires, but I'm still looking for the following:

Homestyle Moroccan or Algerian food

Senegalese or Francophone African cuisines which I haven't tried. I love Senegalese food and the only cuisines I haven't checked off are probably Gambian, Rwandan, Burkina, Malian, and one or two more. Chad? Senegalese food is a favorite of mine, but I'd really like an additional African meal that I can't get in NYC or London.

Any more Asian suggestions. I am particularly looking for excellent Vietnamese food. Amazing banh bo kho would win me over. Same goes for bun bo Hue.

Finally, any reasonably priced French restaurants are welcome and I wouldn't mind bars.

I'm a Paris newb, but I will travel ANYWHERE so distance is of no concern. Same goes for the area. If I'm afraid for my safety while walking to a restaurant then I'll generally note that as a good sign.

Thanks a lot. Also, I'm here for a week and I'd love to go to a Chowdown while I'n here if that happens often enough on this board.


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  1. Somebody on this board knows of a west african place that serves groundnut soup and rice. I forgot where it is, but it's for immigrant workers from what I recall.

    There you would encompass what is an very common meal in Mali, Senegal and Burkina.

    Rwanda has rather non descript east african cusine. Doubt any rwandan restaurants exist.

    3 Replies
    1. re: Busk

      Brilliant. The former is exactly the kind of place I`m after. Thanks.

      Otherwise I`ve thus far noted down Lao Siam, Song Heng for pho, banh mi at è rue de Voltq, Les Trois Frères for North African, and possibly a couple more.

      My passion is the hole in the wall sort of place noted above, but I have to cater to my mother who is with me. Hence I need a places for mussels and French food in general which won`t bankrupt me.

      I may hit up Saravana Bhavan for purposes of pure comparison as I live in an extremely South Asian part of London with its own SB.

      1. re: JFores

        And a very good friend of mine (ShekhaV) tipped me off to this goldmine.

        Definitely going to at least 2.

        1. re: JFores

          Saaravana Bhavan used to be my favorite Indian place in Paris (actually, the only one I thought was worth going to). I haven't been to the one in West Ham, London (though I passed by it), but I'm afraid the Paris branch might no longer stand the comparison. The last time I was there the food had gone down a few notches in quality and some parts of the restaurant looked run-down.
          If you do wish to compare, please report back.
          Regarding Indian, Pakistani, Srilankan food in Paris, since you're from London: just don't bother.

          African restaurants: I love African foods and there's a myriad of West African restaurants in Paris, most of them small family affairs, which are still an inexplored continent for me. However, the ones I mentioned in a previous thread (Nioumré, Le Mono, Fifa) are still valid. I am putting special stress on Le Mono and Fifa, serving Togolese and Beninese foods, which are really yummy.

          There are many restaurants I'd like to try and haven't had time to do yet, but I like Le Bamboutos on rue Sauffroy (Cameroon), Waly Fay on rue Godefroy-Cavaignac (Senegalese/Malian), La Tontine d'Or on rue de Charenton (Cameroon), and Ménélik (Ethiopian), not far from Le Bamboutos, I think it is on avenue de Saint-Ouen. Godjo is another good Ethiopian.
          I heard plenty of good things about Rio de Camaroes (in Montreuil) but I never tried it.

          Benin/Togo food is the one I like best. It is spicy, comforting, flavored with red palmnut oil, African chillies (a type of habanero, very fragrant) and ginger, with lots of fish, green vegetables and fermented cornmeal. Order akassa or agblo if you can find it, and do not miss attieke, which is fermented manioc couscous from the Ivory Coast.

          Ivory Coast is famous for poulet kedjenou and Cameroon for poulet DG, and all West African countries have their own tricks for poulet braisé and poisson braisé.

          For pho, try Pho Mui on avenue d'Ivry, and Pho Bida Vietnam on rue Nationale.

          Laotian food is something you could be interested in. It is very close, if not identical to Isaan food from Northern Thailand. Actually most "Thai" restaurants in Paris are owned by Laotian people who try to serve Central Thai food, but the best of them are those that serve Laotian food. Try Lao Thai and Lao Viet in the 13th (but avoid trendier places like Lao Lane Xang like the plague).

      2. Cheap French food in Paris is a bit of a lottery and my advice to to stay firmly in the mid-price section of the market, to that endi would recommend ALC or one of the lower priced set lunch at Chez L'ami Jean. It may be a little above your budget but worth a stretch - and at lunchtimes it is often more French than visitor so your Mum will enjoy (not certain they have Moules though).

        I agree with Pti about Indian in Paris, it will be a waste of effort to compare it to the east end. I also feel the same about Chinese in Paris, although it may have picked up recently. I tried Thai but not Laotian, when I lived there and found the Parisians notorious spice phobia made it a fairly dull meal. I was also underwhelmed by the quality of Vietnamess food, OK as an ex-colony you would expect good thing but for me it remained me of UK curries in the '70's - I hope there is a generation of young French/vietnames chefs waiting to show what the cuisine is really about (as has happened in Sydney).

        I think your African focus will probably pay dividends but don't ignore French food - try a great cheese shop let them choose the best for your lunch (a good shop will choose cheeses based on the time you want to eat them as they will be in prime condition) buy a baguette then head to the Rodin museum and picnic amongst the sculptur - the ticket to the garden is cheap and your mum should be impressed.

        47 Replies
        1. re: PhilD

          Agree with Pti and PhilD.
          I would also suggest that you check out Turkish food. Turkish eateries tend to be concentrated on rue Faubourg St Denis-rue des Petites Ecuries. There is a very vibrant food scene going on there. But try to stay away from the very attractive hip places (except Vivant, but it is not the same budget you are talking about) and stick to the Turkish immigrant places. You get much better and cheaper food.
          My fave Turkish lunch places around there are Özlem and Urfa Dürüm.
          There is also a well reputed Turkish soup place on rue Faubourg St Denis. I have meant to try it but just could not get through the good food gauntlet of that area to get to it, but its name "Mardin çorba salonu" is totally tattooed on me.

          1. re: Parigi

            Mardin çorba salonu is one of my old favorites. I introduced it to Le Fooding years ago but they didn't keep it, probably not hyped enough for them. Open 5 AM-10 PM nonstop, it serves only soups (and ayran), but several types of them (lentil, chicken, yogurt, and tripe are the ones I remember), for a very low price. You may sit at the two or three tables outside or on a stool inside; and you'll have plenty of bread, lemon juice, and red chilli flakes at hand to enhance your experience. Highly recommended. The tripe soup is wonderful, thickened with real egg-and-lemon sauce. Absolute hangover food.

            I remember they also had an ayran fountain but I'm not sure they still have it.

            Most Kurdish restaurants in the neighborhood (yes, they're all Kurdish) also serve tripe soup (iskembe çorbasi) but in Paris I have only tried it at Mardin's.

            As I wrote many times, there are very good Vietnamese restaurants in Paris (see the two addresses I wrote above), though not as many as there should be, considering. There has been serious losses in recent years, and it has become more difficult to find a good pho soup. Now Cambodian and Laotian are more common, some are great.

            Chinese is another matter and there are far more good Chinese restaurants than one should believe, especially now that the range of regional cooking styles has spread out a bit and you are no longer restrained to Cantonese food interpreted through Southeast Asian hands (which can be a very good thing, see the flawless dim sum at Tricotin or the incredible wonton soup at Hao Hao, both Cambodian).

            The reason Thai food is globally so disappointing in Paris is that people mean "Central Thai food", the one you can get in Bangkok or that some remember from their Phuket vacation. People from Laos who run these restaurants are often not so good at this style of cooking as they are at Laotian/Isaan cooking. That is why it's better to stick with places that clearly advertise their Laotian connection, and there I'd stick with Isaan dishes, not curries.

            1. re: Parigi

              Great stuff. Thanks a lot guys. Further Laotian, Cambodian or Vietnamese recommendations are much appreciated. A friend in London said that the Deptford Vietnamese scene (which has some very good Viet restaurants) has nothing on Paris so there must be some gems here.

              Is Song Heng adequate? Also, I`ve had a lot of Laotian specialties at Isaarn places in Queens and at The Heron in London, but I`m game if the food is worth it. Is Lao Thai very expensive and will I be able to get them to up the spice level to Thai/Laotian spicy?

              I may give a brief trip to a suburb a shot because I`m stupid and I`ve watched La Haine far too many times. I don`t expect there to be an amazing food scene in any of them, but I would tailor the idea if someone has even one noteworthy restaurant in a particular area.

              I should start reporting back later today or tomorrow. Likely first targets are Song Heng and the banh mi place. I`m gonna skip South Asian food as I can get amazing stuff at home.

              BTW as a bit of a heads up, an amazing Keralan restaurant in London called Thattukada is working on opening a Paris branch. I may come back to do the opening with them and I`ll tip CHers off to it if/when it happens.

              I`m pushing the number of meals I can fit in but any standout North African places that are home-y and worth it?

              1. re: JFores

                Song Heng has very good broth and good meatball. The latter especially is hard to find.
                The one thing that bothers me is that one must go early enough, - between noon and 12:15 - to get a table. Otherwise one queues up outside. And because of the long queue outside, after one finishes, there is great expectation, or one could say pressure, to pay and leave immediately. OK, I know I am not having tea at the Cadogan, but the somewhat tense eat&scram atmosphere is not pleasant. I love eating. But if eating is reduced to nothing but eating, it is close to bestial.

                Pho 14, when it is good, is better overall. But in my experience, Pho 14 tends to be alternately good and disappointing. Last time was disappointing. So my next time should be good.

                Excuse me, Pti, I am thinking that maybe one should avoid all the current Lefooding recommendations on the rue Faubourg St Denis-rue des Petites Ecuries area (except, again, for Vivant). Daily Syrian? Hot Dog House ? Bulma ? Pan ? What were they thinking? I wonder if it is because there are so many good eateries in the area that Lefooding thought it would be easier to isolate a "bad list" but then got switched around by mistake and included the isolated half a dozen bad addresses and eliminated all the good eateries.
                And Lefooding is a guide I otherwise find reliable, for off-Paris addresses.

                1. re: Parigi

                  There's no question that you should avoid any 'non-European' recommendations from Le Fooding. They seem to devote carefully nursed incompetence to the subject. I do not understand why they are so clueless. Mardin, which I introduced long ago, was ousted after I stopped contributing and since then some appalling addresses were added. Picture this: Shan Goût being described as "sans conteste l'un des meilleurs chinois de Paris" and "authentic and delicate".
                  However, some good items like Délices de Shan Dong were introduced years ago and fortunately stayed in.

                2. re: JFores

                  My London restaurant-going friends also tell me that the Vietnamese scene has nothing on Paris. I have never been to Song Heng but the two addresses I gave above are good. I know of some others but right now their names elude me and restaurants tend to change hands a lot these days, so I won't take any risks sending you to places I'm not 100% sure about.
                  My favorite pho place, Pho Bida Saigon at the end of a rather seedy covered arcade between av. d'Ivry and rue Nationale, was closed years ago (staff taken away by police, handcuffed, as I heard). The second best pho place was a video rental store on rue Claude-Bernard, now disappeared. Right now I can recommend Pho Mui, Pho Bida Vietnam, Pho 14 (which is not my favorite but is basically all right), and the excellent Pho 67 on rue Galande.

                  Lao Thai is not expensive and the chilli level is quite satisfactory (though it was on the low side last time I was there, which was an off day), and you can even ask them to push it a little bit. Do not miss: the cuttlefish salad, the vermicelli salad, the nem lao (crispy rice salad), the quail fried in garlic and white pepper, the rice noodles in coconut broth with pork or fish, the laap neua, the beef salad, the Laotian lemongrass sausages...
                  Lao Viet in a more remote location (24 boulevard Massena) is equally good, maybe more consistent. Have the raw shrimp salad, or the crispy cuttlefish salad. Their Vietnamese dishes are also very well made.

                  Thanks for the Thattukada information, I'll keep my eyes and ears open. Any idea where it will be located?

                  Standout North African places: you absolutely should not miss Chez Hamadi. Tunisian "red" couscous as it is served in (the best) Tunisian homes: fluffy, a bit greasy, extremely tasty. They have a secret technique for the couscous grain that nobody has identified yet (and I know people who have tried). To order with grilled lamb chops, osbane (lamb chitterling sausage), delicious merguez, half a roasted lamb's head, etc.

                  Moroccan couscous is very good at L'Atlas, the grain is made from scratch every morning by hand. Very well steamed too. Classic, light and tasty Fassi cooking, highly recommended too.

                  For "dry" couscous with mechoui (roasted lamb), see Wally le Saharien (mentioned in another thread), in Northern Paris.

                  Which brings us closer to the suburbs. Usually I don't give that kind of recommendation, assuming that very few people would dare to venture into some supposedly seedy burbs, but Aubervilliers (like Asnières, Saint-Denis, Saint-Ouen, Le Pré-Saint-Gervais, etc.) is a gem for foodies, especially for food shopping, with Tunisian pastry shops, Wenzhou markets, Moroccan fruit vendors, African grocery stores, the usual kebab joints, etc. Take buses or métro and explore them. These are fascinating places.

                  You might want to try Taf et Maffé in Aubervilliers, a communal kitchen run by African ladies. Cheap, family-style West African stews (maffé, yassa, thieb, mboma, etc.) served with a stainless steel ladle - I wouldn't give you the tip if I didn't sense that you'd love that as much as I do. Open 11-18h, Monday to Saturday, 56 rue des Fillettes, Aubervilliers. Closest transportation would be RER La Plaine-Stade de France.

                  1. re: Ptipois

                    This is amazing. If I could find the exclamation point on this French keyboard I would have used it there. Thanks a lot.

                    BTW the banh mi place at 7 rue Volta was incredible. The amazing owner juggled Vietnamese, French, English, and Mandarin all while making some of the best banh mi I have ever had. She was out of pork so if I return for that she mat take my definitive top spot for banh mi in a Western city.

                    1. re: JFores

                      You must, must go back to Angéla for her barbecue pork !
                      Angéla is very conscientioius. She is actually allergic to the spices. But she's there every morning spitting and choking making the barbecue sauce from scratch in that tiny space. I'm in love with her.

                      1. re: Parigi

                        Does anyone have any idea if the banh mi place formerly at 7 rue Volta has reopened yet? According to Yelp she was moving to a new space.


                        1. re: shipshape

                          Seems to have successfully moved as per her Yelp activity now. You scared me there - I love that place.

                          1. re: shipshape

                            According to megtenni on this thread : , it is opened...

                            If you go, please come back and confirm this.

                        2. re: Ptipois

                          BTW my meals roundup from now till departure is looking like Lao Thai, Pho Bida Saigon, Chez Hamadi, Fifa, Le Mono, Wally le Saharien, and 1-2 French places. Fifa and Le Mono will probably be on the same day while Lao Thai and Pho Bida will be another. I am doing two Northern Paris oriented jaunts so I will give Pegalle and Monmartre a shot and then venture further up for first Wally and then Taf. I have 5 full days so I think that is pretty realistic.

                          1. re: JFores

                            Careful, Pho Bida Saigon is no more. That's where the staff was taken away handcuffed and once a knife fight started a few feet away from my table, fortunately aborted by thoughtful waiters - but oh boy what a pho they served. The one still standing is Pho Bida Vietnam, run by relatives of the former place. No recorded fighting so far.

                            Also: careful with Fifa, the place seems to be rather irregularly open. Better phone ahead: 01 42 51 09 01. Address is 16 rue Joseph-Dijon (near mairie du 18e).

                            1. re: Ptipois

                              I had some truly incredible couscous with a wide assortment of lamb at Chez Hamadi. Incredible couscous and great char on all of the grilled items. A tiny bit pricey due to the cost of drinks, but otherwise excellent. Thanks for the tip. Tomorrow looks like round one of the Monlartre Qfrican restaurants. Round two will be more of the same preceeded by an RER trip to Aubervillers for Taf et Maffe.

                              One question regarding Taf et Maffe. I Google street viewed it and I can`t find anything that looks like a restaurant or a canteen. Is it in the bottom of the small tower block?

                              I just did some more homework on Taf et Maffe and it does indeed seem to be in the little tower block. Cool stuff. 2.50 for a meal??? Winning.

                              1. re: JFores

                                Taf et Maffe.... It's in a "résidence sociale"/ community centre with a cooking collective for daily meals for the area's poor and for catering West African weddings, baptisms, etc.

                                Tip: Don't bring a knapsack. Use a plastic bag if you need to carry stuff. Street smarts required.

                                1. re: Parnassien

                                  re Tip: good points. This venue sounds most local and sensitive. Regardless of the best intent and lightest footsteps, morphing into different cultures is virtually impossible.

                                  1. re: mangeur

                                    Checking out cheap eats is one thing. I don't think it is right for visitors to avail themselves to facilities that are designed to feed the poor.

                                    1. re: Parigi

                                      Yeah I`ve been debating that with myself. The issue is that I know plenty about West African food, I am familiar with similar areas (my area in London is practically the same as Aubervilliers) and I have been to similar nearly underground restaurants, but my French is non-existent so it is going to be extremely difficult to get past the "why the f--- are you here?" speed bump of international relations in interesting neighborhoods.

                                      I`m trying to get a Parisian friend to tag along, but I otherwise might put it off until November when I may come back with a French speaker (plus I won`t have my mother with me.)

                                      Given the aim of the project from what I read online, it seems like it was put in place to give recently arrived West African women a route into work as much as it was meant to feed the local poor. Saying that, my visit and even a subsequent blog post won`t exactly get them more business so it might be pointless.

                                      Regqrding the tip, I brought my "I live in Zone 3 East London rudeboy disguise outfit'' to Paris for just such an occasion. The area is the least of my concerns as I basically planned for it. More the language barrier when I get there.

                                      Ptipois, how was your reception there? I have until Tuesday evening to make a decision on this for Wednesday morning.

                                      1. re: JFores

                                        “extremely difficult to get past the "why the f--- are you here?" speed bump of international relations in interesting areas.”

                                        My point is not at all about (the fear of) getting caught.

                                        1. re: Parigi

                                          This place appears to be more akin to a regionally specific community centre canteen than a soup kitchen for the homeless. Correct me if I`m wrong, but thats what I`ve gathered via bad French and the fact it was recommended to me on Chowhound by someone who has eaten there.

                                          Is this place more like a soup kitchen or is it pretty much a community centre based equivalent of a West African church or mosque providing meals after services?

                                          "Getting caught" is unavoidable. I`m Italian-American and while I do keep gettting asalaam aleikum`ed by shop keepers here, I can`t pass for West African. North, yes. West, not so much.

                                          1. re: JFores

                                            Simple solution. I`m having my friend call the director.

                                            1. re: JFores

                                              "Is this place more like a soup kitchen or is it pretty much a community centre based equivalent of a West African church or mosque providing meals after services?"
                                              I do not know. I have not been there. I trust the words of Parnassien who recommended it as a "cooking collective for daily meals for the area's poor".
                                              Actually nothing was said about the food quality. So its main character seems to be that it serves the poor.

                                              1. re: Parigi


                                                This is the description they give:

                                                Retrouvez les saveurs de l’Afrique de l’Ouest avec des plats et boissons aux recettes traditionnelles : maffé, tieb, loco, dégué, jus de bissap... Livraison possible. L’association dispose d’une cuisine professionnelle conforme à toutes les normes d’hygiène et d’une salle de restauration équipée.

                                                History wise they talk about the places roots as an underground restaurant in a previous estate which was relocated and made legal when the residents were moved to the current location.

                                                And this...

                                                Taf et Maffé - Une cuisine vraiment traditionnelle, comme au bled !

                                                L'association Taf et Maffé a été créée il y a environ 5 ans pour légaliser des activités cuisines dans des foyers africains.
                                                En échange, la Préfecture de Seine-Saint-Denis proposait de donner des papiers aux personnes y travaillant. Depuis l'association a grandi et est devenu une entreprise d'insertion embauchant des personnes en contrat aidé dans les métiers de la restauration. L'idée principale est de profiter des savoir-faire culinaires de femmes primo-arrivantes pour qu'elles les valorisent par une expérience professionnelle en cuisine.

                                                L'Association Taf et Maffé propose une cuisine traditionnelle, comme au bled, pour une somme modique : le plat est à 2€50!
                                                Pour cela, vous pouvez avoir un maffé, un poulet yassa, un couscous tradi...miam, miam !!!

                                                Résidence Bachir Souni,
                                                2 Place Jean Poulmarch
                                                93200 Saint-Denis
                                                C'est juste derrière la gare transilien de Saint-Denis !

                                                Though it isn`t exactly near Saint-Denis station. That would be an immense walk. It`s about 6 NYC blocks from Le Plaine - Stade de France.

                                                1. re: JFores

                                                  It does sound more like a general community service, and not a charity specifically for the poor.
                                                  Thank you for posting.
                                                  Happy expedition.
                                                  You can even make a donation for this worthwhile association.

                                                2. re: Parigi

                                                  It's my impression that it's a private/ public association to encourage job creation in deprived areas. Part of that mission is to create a place/"insérer" West African cuisine in the Ile de France food scene. The various municipalities (St Denis, Aubervilliers, etc) also seem to subsidize these cooking collectives to provide cheap meals in neighbourhoods where there are large concentrations of migrant workers and in this respect they do fulfill the function of soup kitchens. But they are also open to the public and the collectives do a thriving catering business on the side.

                                                  If I ate there, I would make sure to donate some money (i.e.50€) and not just pay the pittance for the meal.

                                                    1. re: JFores

                                                      And one more caution. I did years ago have a brief experience in a similar "foyer" in St Denis. 100% immigrant clientele which was interesting. And a cluster of obviously mentally ill... somewhat less enjoyable.

                                                      1. re: Parnassien

                                                        Eh, that's life. Better to see a city's dirty laundry and to take the positives from it than to live in ignorant bliss.

                                                          1. re: Parigi

                                                            Just checking back in with you guys to say that I hit up Fifa Restaurant in the northern bit of Monmartre and it was pretty good. I kind of stuck to what I know as I unfortunately can`t communicate much. We ended up having a whole smoked and then deep fried dorado with acheke.

                                                            The pros were definitely the fish, the peppa, and the tomato stew accompaniment. The fish was delicious and it was perfectly fried with a crispiness that managed to stick to the fish`s otherwise oily and slippy skin. Even if the meat slipped off the skin, the skin would still be so crisp that it would crunch when you bit into it. The tomato stew tqsted like an exceptionally well made marinara sauce with a thinner yet chunky consistency. Great peppa sauce; very spicy, but very flavorful. The only con was that the acheke was a bit to dry. I also would`ve liked the ubiquitous Maggi cube you get to crush into it, but even if it was provided it would have been too dry. I had to use the stew to get it a bit wetter.

                                                            Lovely people inside. A neighoburing table of Tanzanians got to chatting with us towards the end of the meal and that got the owner involed as well.

                                                            1. re: JFores

                                                              Glad you liked Fifa. Sorry that their attiéké was dry. Attiéké is an Ivory Coast/Mali thing anyway, the best I have had was made by a Malian lady. At Fifa they have excellent aloko and since Blaise (the owner) is Beninese, the thing to have there is the akassa (fermented cornmeal paste) and everything "braisé".

                                                              They do not do the Maggi cube thing in Benin. They use fermented fruit or nut pastes like sumbala or ogiri as natural taste enhancers, as well as smoked fish and dried shrimp, all added during cooking. The only condiment they add to their plates is finely chopped green chilli and shallots. They make great tomato sauces ("moyo") indeed.

                                                              1. re: Ptipois

                                                                Ok, I admit, even though I walk by it 3 days a week I've never even looked in FIFA. Indeed i always thot it was the football bunch that fixed the games. Paga and my place in the quarter was La Perroge (sp) for stews that I'm certain contained forbidden items, and yes I've eaten in strange places like Bien hoa, parts of Manila we cannot speak of and north Carolina.

                                                                1. re: Ptipois

                                                                  Fair enough. My point of comparison is a Guinean restaurant in the Bronx. The fish at Fifa was easily on par. You live, you learn and you come back to Paris in a few months. When I went in no one had food on their table so I couldn`t even pull an I`ll have what he`s having.

                                                                  The moyo was really delicious. Fish too. I don`t get exposed to enough of this stuff. In London it`s all Nigerian and though I`m from New York (and a good friend of mine is NYC Serious Eats`man in the Bronx) I only get home for a week or two each year (the last time of which I went on two Francophone African food crawls and fell in love.)

                                                                  Thanks for the confirmations regarding Taf et Maffe. I`ll be hitting it up on Wed. Tomorrow will be Pho BidaVietnam and Lao Thai or one or the other (I`m going broke and I will have to eat at Taf et Maffe for the rest of the trip at this rate.)

                                                    2. re: Parigi

                                                      Whoa. Do I look like someone who would send a Chowhounder to a soupe populaire?

                                                      Taf et Maffé is a restaurant.
                                                      Open to everyone.
                                                      Serving African specialties to all sorts of public.

                                                      A special kind of restaurant, not exactly in an easy-to-reach area, but since the OP was eager to explore the 'burbs *and* was curious about African cuisines, well, it made perfect sense to send him/her there.

                                                      This is not a place where you "steal from the poor" when you buy lunch, but an association that anyone is invited to help by buying from them. They wouldn't make anyone feel out of place. They need customers.

                                                      Taf et Maffé is also listed in one of the Guides des Pintades, devoted to food in Paris ("Les Pintades passent à la casserole", Calmann-Lévy, 2010). The restaurant is extensively described from page 206 to 209. Besides, on p. 210-212 are listed 9 "foyer" restaurants and Cafés associatifs, most of them in Paris, including Taf et Maffé at 56, rue des Fillettes, Aubervilliers, tel. 01 48 33 90 01. The other restaurants are: Foyer Bara in Montreuil - 18, rue Bara (African); Café associatif de la commune libre d'Aligre, 3, rue d'Aligre; La Rôtisserie, 4, rue Sainte-Marthe; and the inevitable couscous gratuits: La Chope du Château-Rouge on rue de Clignancourt; Les Trois Frères (rue Léon) on Thursday evenings; La Providence, avenue Parmentier (Friday and Saturday, 7:30), French K-Wa+, 6, rue Planchat, Wednesday evening; and Le Grenier, 152 rue Oberkampf, Friday and Saturday after 8 PM.

                                                      Edited to change the name of the publisher but I doubt anyone has rushed out to buy the book since I wrote the post.

                                                      1. re: Ptipois

                                               Rotissierie, it's been written up, with colour photos, by Eric Goldschien on the blog it's a co-op that helps support a number of different community organizations.

                                                    3. re: JFores

                                                      Let's make this place huge.

                                                      If you don't want people to show up, you don't put up a website. I find it very unlikely you'll experience any static at a place like this. Of course, I live in West Africa, so maybe my perspective is different....

                                                      1. re: Busk

                                                        Hello all,

                                                        Taf et Maffe has been put off till tomorrow as delays yesterday prevented us from getting the catacombs done.

                                                        Pho Bida Vietnam was excellent though. Far better pho than the best available in New York or London. It had a great deeply flavored broth which blew away all but one London competitor completely and the actual meat, tendon, meatballs, etc was of a far higher quality. Great recommendation and I`d like to explore the menu further; There were a lot of interesting things on other tables including Vietnamese salads which can be rare at restaurants in London.

                                                        One thing to note, however, is that I brought a Parisian friend who is part Cambodian and who lives about 5 minutes away. While she liked it a lot, she also thought that the pho was not out of this world amazing. When I asked for her best pick she told me about a Vietnamese foyer with a cultural center and a set menu for 8 euro (including nem, pho and a dessert.) Anyone been? I`ll get the name and address off her.

                                                        1. re: JFores

                                                          Could she be talking about the Foyer Vietnamien on rue Monge? This one has been closed for some time for renovation. Not sure when it will reopen. I leave nearby but I never was a fan of the place. Bo bun was somewhat sloppy, simmered dishes not outsdanding - never had pho, not feeling comfortable enough after having tried other stuff.

                                                          If she wasn't thinking of that place, I'd be very interested to get the address.

                                                          The only "out of this world amazing" phos in Paris were Pho Bida Saigon and the video store on rue Claude-Bernard. Now gone forever.

                                                          Failing that, Pho Bida Vietnam, Pho Mui, Pho 67 and Pho 14 are the best options. I like Pho 14 but it is overcrowded and the broth is sometimes stellar, sometimes not. Pho Mui has the advantage of being less crowded.
                                                          Pho 67 is not in the same neighborhood (it is one of the last remains of the old Vietnamese quarter, established around Maubert and East of Saint-Michel back in the 50s). It serves remarkable pho (with the bone soup and boiled meats in a separate, heated dish) and the other soups are excellent.

                                                          There is also a "dust restaurant" (i.e. a very simple canteen with tube chairs and large bay windows, which is a rather reliable sign of good pho) on the dalle des Olympiades, amidst the 70's skyscrapers, but i forgot the name and I haven't been there for some time. I could find it if I went there.

                                                          How long are you staying in Paris? I think you should give Nioumré a try, if only for the atmosphere.

                                                          1. re: Ptipois

                                                            I might be able to manage Nioumre for dinner tomorrow. I`m only here until Friday morning, but Paris has reammy won me over. I`m gonna start saving up for a return trip in November ASAP (I`m nearly broke right now. Tomorrow might just be another banh mi and my RER jaunt to Taf et Maffe.)

                                                            1. re: JFores

                                                              Really... French keyboards still haven`t won me over.

                                                              1. re: JFores

                                                                I am really happy. Firstly that you are enjoying your time in Paris and having great meals, secondly that you are confirming that the non-European dining scene in Paris is not so dire as some would like to make it appear.

                                                                It is very particular, but it does have its highlights. As in every other big city, some aspects of it are excellent and some not so good.

                                                                1. re: Ptipois

                                                                  I agree. For many reasons, it's more difficult to track down good "non-european" addresses in Paris than in other cities, but there are a bunch of them out there, and probably a bunch more waiting to be diescovered - at least by me.

                                                                  1. re: Ptipois

                                                                    Hello all,

                                                                    I finally made it to Taf et Maffe and it was incredible. They had a much larger selection of dishes than I expected and this definitely made it a bit more difficult to communicate (because I can`t) as I only recognized a couple of things. I first got a plate of exceptionally good thieb with roast chicken and stewed cabbage. Everything was great and the portion was enormous for 2.60. Note their prices have gone up 10 cents for eat in meals. I also got a takeaway maffe which I`ve now tried and a glass of deuge. The maffe is really really really good and a huge takeaway portion is 3.20. Overall, the quality of the food is shockingly good and I don`t just mean for the price. I`ve been to one Senegalese restaurant in the Bronx that comes close to this place`s maffe and even then I think the one I had today may have been better. To note, degue is an interesting drink that I had never seen. Apparently its primarily found in Mali and Burinafaso. It was a bit like bubble tea. Milk sweetened with honey before (literally) hundreds of chewy little sorghum pellets are added. Drinking a glass of it feels like a small meal.

                                                                    I showed up late in the day so I was worried that they might be low on food, but there was loads left. The kitchen is constantly buzzing and there was a decent number of customers in there at the time. I was a bit of a novelty at first, but they lost interest when they realized I couldn`t speak French. Overall friendly, but largely nonchalant. No one really cared about my being there or acknowledged my existence after I first ordered. The entire trip was extremely interesting and I would definitely go back there. I would definitely second earlier comments regarding street smarts reauired and so on. The immediate vicinity of La Plaine Stade de France is fine, but the stretch from Rue du Landy to Taf et Maffe looks exceptionally poor. Not dangerous or "ghetto" but really really really poor.

                                                                    1. re: JFores

                                                                      Like a great many streets around that neighborhood, but nevertheless hidden gems can be found there.

                                                                      Thank you so much for reporting. That looks awesome. A good thieb is hard to find, and mmm, good maffé... omigod.

                                                                      By any chance, did you notice any yassa? If the level of cooking is high, yassa must be really really good.

                                                                      1. re: Ptipois

                                                                        I`m not 100 percent sure as they had one or two other items, but virtually everyone was eating thieb with chicken or maffe so I went for that. It was a great experience. I`m very used to similar areas, but I usually expect a different sort of vibe. More "ghetto" with a lot of kids my age about rather than an older commnity that simply looks extremely poor.

                                                                        Also, posters around the building and the bits of conversation I could understand seem to point to a very large Malian clientelle. Some of the employees too.

                                                                        1. re: JFores

                                                                          Well, Aubervilliers is Mali town. And Malian ladies are terrific cooks.

                              2. I enjoyed eating at the creole place at Marché des Enfants Rouge in the 3rd. It is an open-air market with a collection of small restaurants sandwiched within the stalls. I was there in summer, and o don't know what it's like other times of the year. I also enjoyed the froamgerie right near the entrance to the market. I recommend the crab farci and crab beignets as dishes that would be hard to find in other cities. I do not know what the county the proprietors are from, but I suspect Haiti.

                                For southwest French, I recommend Domaine de Lintillac as a great value. Particularly the cassoulet, but also the confit de canard for cheap. In a nicer setting is is Ambassade d'Auvergne for cuisine from that region. Hearty and delicious. The warm lentil salad is outstanding.

                                1 Reply
                                1. re: Steve

                                  True, the creole stall at Enfants Rouges is really good. I had a few snacks there and they were yummy.

                                2. I just wanted to update this with a huge thank you to all of those who contributed. I'll probably restart this thread when I return to Paris in the future. Similarly, I'll keep all of you posted regarding a Paris branch of Thattukada.

                                  23 Replies
                                  1. re: JFores

                                    Interested to know if you ate any traditional French food in Paris and how it compared to the other food you ate?

                                    1. re: PhilD

                                      None whatsoever beyond two drunk crepes. I didn't have the budget for it. I had 200 euro for the whole time I was there and 1/3 of that disappeared on the first weekend out.

                                      Regardless of where I am, it's extremely rare that I eat Western food unless I'm cooking it myself (and then it's generally Italian. Though saying that, I cook more Sichuan food or South Asian food than I do Italian.) Just my diet at this point. I've lived in East London for too long.

                                      Ah, one exception. In Palermo I eat almost exclusively at Italian places, but the last time I was there I found a really good Wenzhou place as well as a nice Tamil snack shop.

                                      1. re: JFores

                                        "Good" and "Wenzhou" are kind of mutually exclusive...
                                        No offense, just half-joking. There can be good Wenzhou cooking (as a variety of the larger Zhejiang style, which can be stellar), but cases of the kind are rare.

                                        For traditional French food in Paris, I'd recommend getting away from Paris. Or seeking a few secret bistrots still serving old-fashioned food.

                                        You definitely have to come back to Paris. There are many other places to discover. But re-reading the thread I think you have done what we call a "sans-faute".

                                        1. re: JFores

                                          Each to his own, but you do miss out if you don't try to eat local especially in Paris.

                                          I also have this nagging doubt about the fundamental quality of much of the food especially the social canteen. Certainly it is novelty, and clearly satisfies an edgy spirit of adventure but is it intrinsically good? Food sold cheaply is going to be food prepared cheaply - especially if it is for charity. Good food needs good ingredients and food from different countries generally needs exotic specialist ingredients to be both good and true to its roots (let alone be authentic). So interesting food, different food, but is it really a good representation of the cuisine of those countries. Can anyone, who has eaten this food from where it originates vouch for its quality?

                                          Also picking up on Pti's earlier point, I am definitely in the camp of questioning the quality of " imported cuisines" in Paris. I respect that locals appreciate the variety as they do in many cities, but the comparator for many visitors isn't elsewhere in Paris but where else the food is outstanding. So Vietnamese food is better in Paris than London, but as Justin says in London Vietnamese restaurants feature few salads. To me that means the London bar is pretty low so not surprising Paris jumps it.

                                          In Paris, for the visitor, French food is outstanding and is justly renowned. But I find that Paris does few other cuisines well (apart from North African), and this itching impartially due to the French palette, and partially due to the lack of key ingredients (is the EU ban on fresh Kaffir limes and leaves still in force?).

                                          My advice to the food obsessed traveler is to sample the best of Paris i.e.French - and not assume because is the best for some foods it is the best for all foods. When lived in Paris I soon learned to save my Euros to eat Indian in the UK, Dim Sum in HK and Thai and Vietnamese in Sydney - I also prefer the more robust flavours of North African in it's country of origin but was happy with the better end of Paris North African.

                                          1. re: PhilD

                                            "I also have this nagging doubt about the fundamental quality of much of the food especially the social canteen. Certainly it is novelty, and clearly satisfies an edgy spirit of adventure"
                                            --> I am afraid you are not showing much consideration for the OP's tastes and culinary experience. Reading all his posts I had the exact opposite impression and thought, here's someone who knows what he's talking about.
                                            What can you base a "nagging doubt" on if you have never eaten there?

                                            "Good food needs good ingredients and food from different countries generally needs exotic specialist ingredients to be both good and true to its roots (let alone be authentic). So interesting food, different food, but is it really a good representation of the cuisine of those countries."
                                            --> You would be surprised, perhaps, but even in the case of that "charity cooking" you are showing so much contempt to, it might sometimes be prepared from better ingredients in Paris than in its country of origin. I heard that several times from a Malian friend (who, incidentally, is a terrific cook).

                                            As for the "specialist ingredients", there isnt much to reply except that a few strolls through "specialist" (i.e. catering to the various communities) markets in Paris and the suburbs amply answers the question. Including a visit to Château-Rouge sidewalks on Saturdays or the lower part of avenue d'Ivry at lychee season, for instance. Add to that, perhaps, entering a Wenzhou market in Aubervilliers for the extreme end of the experience.

                                            "Can anyone, who has eaten this food from where it originates vouch for its quality?"
                                            --> What have all been doing here on this board for all these years?

                                            1. re: PhilD

                                              I don't think you "get" African food well in this case. A great example is my experience with North African (albeit Tunisian) food in Paris compared to my experience with Morocco. While I was only there for two weeks, I did not eat well in Morocco. I was in Fez, a city renowned for its cooking, but some of the best things I ate consisted of manually assembled potato, halal spam and egg sandwiches. Similarly, a kofte place (which we can aptly call "the epicenter of all the flies in Africa or teoatfia for sort) was pretty much bang on with excellent (though excessively trod upon by certain insects) kofte with onions and eggs.

                                              Do you know why these things were the best stuff I had throughout most of the stay? One, I was on a ridiculous budget as usual. Two, the quality of ingredients was horrible in Fez. Even lamb! I was Couch Surfing for about half of this trip and our home cooked meals were not even very good; we were all decent cooks, but the meat was just not all that fresh. The eggs were brilliant and some vegetables were good, but fruit was terribly hit or miss. The tagines I had while I was there were consistently unremarkable and I was doing my usual food sleuthing online and with Moroccans I met. Admittedly, I was there immediately following Eid and 80% of my recommendations were shut.

                                              While I would be going to tremendous lengths to extrapolate such findings across an entire continent, I have to say that in my experience the ingredients you find in Africa are not great. I could only imagine that this gets worse in say Mali, Mauritania or any number of other countries which the staff of Taf et Maffe originate from.

                                              Regarding Taf et Maffe, I have eaten at probably 6 or 7 Senegalese restaurants in my life so that is my main reference point. In particular, a place near Yankee Stadium in the Bronx has been my pride and joy of African eats. This and another Guinean restaurant nearby were both found by my friend Chris Crowley of New York Serious Eats and he knows his West African food. He has eaten in Malian households in the Bronx, organised events, etc. We love both of these restaurants, but the maffe and thieb at Taf et Maffe was better. Their peppa was also the best I've ever had. All in all the food is really good. I had no problem with the quality of the chicken; it came as well roasted drum sticks. The emphasis was definitely on dark meat, but whole chickens, half chickens, etc could be purchased. If anything the lack of meat creates quite a traditional setting. More so than a restaurant (even the more "up-market" and when I say that I mean in a pretty rough part of the Bronx and containing one of the worst bathrooms I have ever seen in a Western country) which serves meat as a major centerpiece of each African dish that comes out.

                                              Another Chowhound poster who jumps between London, Perth and New York throughout the year (but who previously lived in Paris for a very long time) recommended the Vietnamese food scene highly. London is not really all that far behind for some aspects of quality. You can get pretty good pho, much better than what can be had in New York. Paris just blows London away for both the variety of dishes and the quality of those dishes. I can get good Vietnamese hot pot and a couple of salads at Le Gia or I can get pho that comes (broth wise) close to what I had at Pho Bida Vietnam via Chung Viet, but it's just not the same. Good Vietnamese meatballs? Properly done bun bo Hue? No. Just not possible yet in London.

                                              Finally, when we deal with the whole authenticity question I can easily return to South Asian cooking. I have eaten -a lot- of home cooked South Asian meals. Bangladeshi, Indian, Pakistani, and Sri Lankan. Keralan houses (I lived in one for 3 months this year), Gujarati houses, etc. A lot. The ingredients are available. Nowadays, the ingredients are GENERALLY available. You'll always have that annoying item or two, but a lot of the time separation from readily available ingredients creates quality. A shockingly large number of South Asian home cooks use store bought spice mixes for certain dishes. I've especially seen this with Sri Lankans. When you find yourself in the UK and only two stores in London have even the potential of carrying some specific niche Sinhalese spice mix then you finally say "to hell with it, I'm going to grind it myself."

                                              In the same vein, the excellent Wenzhou restaurant I referenced in Palermo was doing a shockingly large range of items themselves. I imagine its due to the lack of available products. They were drying their own fish and they were also processing their own bamboo shoots from scratch. This is unheard of even in New York where a wide range of Chinese products means no one would consider doing this. It was very interesting to see a restaurant adapting successfully to a difficult import situation. This is what really impressed me about the restaurant. The food was good, but Wenzhou cuisine isn't really my cup of tea. I just enjoyed the fact that they had good wok work, a wide range of dishes and they made any unavailable ingredient themselves.

                                              But yeah, give Taf et Maffe a shot. It's a cool little trip. The walk's fine until rues des Rillettes, but you arrive at your destination before you have a chance to get nervous. It is a restaurant where French considerations of spice, culinary perferences and so on are about as relevant as the Malian central government is in Timbuktu and Gao.

                                              I would have liked to have had more (any) French food during my trip, but my budget was tight. If you'd like to make a donation to the "Feed Justin French Food Foundation" for when I make another low-budget return in November then I'm game.

                                              1. re: JFores

                                                Thanks, you hit the nail on precisely what I was trying to tell about product quality here and there.
                                                (I loved the "rue des Rillettes"... Can't keep our mind off the food, right?)

                                                I never understood why some try to spread the reputation that Vietnamese food in the US is better than in France. All the Vietnamese food I've had in the US was rather disappointing in comparison to what we have in Paris.

                                                Among the various cooking styles found in Zhejiang, Wenzhou is probably the least interesting. But in the hands of able cooks it can be as good as that of the other parts of the province.

                                                Thai restaurants in Paris (outside of their Laotian/Isaan connection which is excellent) are rather poor in quality. That is a fact.
                                                However, with the current vitality of the Thai food export industry, to which one should add the current vitality of Chinese and even Vietnamese food exports, there is hardly one Thai/Asian ingredient that isn't available in Paris. And there is no excuse not to prepare a perfectly decent Central Thai dinner in your own kitchen from all that bounty.
                                                So the problem lies elsewhere.

                                                1. re: Ptipois

                                                  Haha! I just noticed that! Very true.

                                                  Ahem. rue des Fillettes...

                                                  Apparently LA is great for Vietnamese, but I get the feeling that the attention has a lot to do with the cult following that pho has in that city. Nonetheless, poster turned employee DaveMP has talked up the Vietnamese scene there and I trust him.

                                                  1. re: JFores

                                                    I must say I never tried Vietnamese food in LA. My experience is limited to the Bay Area and NYC.

                                                    1. re: Ptipois

                                                      This is getting off topic, but I'm a native NYer and I can say that the Vietnamese scene there is DIRE. Philadelphia is actually a major sleeper. One of the better Viet scenes in the US.

                                                      1. re: JFores

                                                        Folks, this is getting pretty far off topic, so we'll ask everyone to hold off on discussions of the chow scene outside of France on this board. Thanks.

                                                  2. re: Ptipois

                                                    Justin and Pti - good points. It is interesting to hear about Justin's comparative experience especially how a food can be better in its adopted country rather than it's home country. I totally agree ingredient quality is key and it isn't a simple binary issue. In a country like France base ingredients will be better, but conversely the more exotic ones can either be in short supply or less than perfect. In an ideal world it is good when both elements come together - maybe Paris is such a place.

                                                    Pti - I do wonder if the Thai and Indian challenge in Paris is the spicing and local tastes - although Isaan isn't a mild cuisine - so is Lao and Isaan food really punch in Paris.

                                                    Justin - if I was in Paris this autumn I would gladly sponsor a good French meal - I am certain we would have some wonderfully arguments.

                                                  3. re: JFores

                                                    I prefer "Feed Fores French Food Foundation".

                                                    Seriously, I have trouble mandating how one approaches dining in Paris or France or elsewhere. We each have visited a different "Paris". Even if we've walked down the street together holding hands, what we experience is personal and individual. To say that one misses the essence by not eating one thing or another is to deny that person his palate.,

                                                    I, personally, don't eat croissants. Or pastry. I loathe thick hot chocolate. Nor have I found most ice cream in Paris worth eating. Pre-desserts and desserts and mignardises I leave after a bite. I get bored on the fourth oyster and don't crave more foie gras. I don't have an urge to visit (more) three star rooms. I am increasingly leery of white tablecloths. I have bones to pick with many restaurants touted here and on blogs. And yet I visit France multiple times a year, mostly for the food. I LOVE the food in France.

                                                    I find nothing wrong with having a food plan that is narrow and deep. Fores' knowledge and experience are impressive and I don't doubt his observations. He is an example of a good traveler as opposed to a gold-star tourist who hits every room on the NYT must-do list.

                                                  4. re: PhilD

                                                    I am wary when people make generalizations about "good food needs good ingredients" or "French food is outstanding and justly renowned" or "Food sold cheaply is going to be food prepared cheaply."

                                                    You can't eat generalizations. Chowhound is here to provide specific, real-time pinpoint answers. In my case, your 'philosophy' would have stood in the way of a lot of spectacular eating I've done in my life.

                                                    So go ahead and tell us which places you like and don't like. Advise us on which menu items are 'da bomb' or simply bombed. That's info we can all use.

                                                    1. re: Steve

                                                      Steve - I don't generally make generalisations. My comment was French food in Paris, which is (if you follow the advice of the board) very very good. In the Paris context (a bloody expensive city) if food is cheap there is a reason; either lower ingredient quality or prepared cheaply. Justin makes a good point that it is still relative i.e. cheap lower quality Paris ingredients can be better than local North African ones.

                                                      And yes Chow-hound is great for pinpoint recommendations. But it is made great because we can debate these recommendations (unlike trip adviser). Pti, Justin an I have debated many points over the years which has led me to respect their knowledge, opinions and recommendations. We often disagree quite loudly with each other - but I am very confident we would enjoy wonderfully argumentative meals in each others company.

                                                      And finally I do feedback what I like and don't like. I am in Myanmar at the moment and am trying to write up the meals and experiences as I go - you will find them on the China board......onwards to another Tea Leaf Salad and Sour Squid Curry.

                                                      1. re: PhilD

                                                        I guess we differ on "lower ingredient quality" Or "prepared cheaply."

                                                        I am still not sure on which ingredient in thiebou djeun, for example, is supposed to be expensive. As far as the quality, if a place takes their time in preparation and puts a lot of care into it, that is mostly what is needed.

                                                        The problem here is that it is not really necessary to compare every meal to the ideal version. Having a 'Francophone' meals in a visit of several days to Paris can be a very special and rewarding experience.

                                                        1. re: Steve

                                                          There is no reason not to make outstanding non-French food from very decent, if not excellent, ingredients in Paris, especially considering the incredible abundance of "specialty" ingredients available. Add to that the good quality of medium-range products and you see the picture.

                                                          I have been working on the first drafts of a guidebook project about that, and believe me, the project has had to be put on the back burner because of its richness and complexity. Briefly, there is far too much stuff to list and the situation is changing constantly. If you go to Tang Frères or Paristore on a weekly or monthly basis, there will always be new stuff every time. Now it goes as far as medicinal herbs and plants, sometimes rather mysterious, and I've even seen fresh ginseng root at times. It is not different for other non-French cooking traditions, provided that they have a common colonial/immigration history with France. Wenzhou people are here because France used to have a trade concession in Wenzhou. A little-known fact. That's how it works, and that's how you get water bamboo directly from Zhejiang in the vegetable sections of Wenzhou markets in Paris. So, roughly, former Indochina, large parts of West Africa and North Africa, some islands in the Carribean and the Indian Ocean, and that's about it.

                                                          I'll take the example of attiéké (fermented manioc couscous) as it is made by my friend Mama, from Mali, who lives currently in Aubervilliers.
                                                          What do you need to make great attiéké?

                                                          Sea fish of a large size (grouper/thiof recommended)
                                                          African chillies (technically, habanero peppers)
                                                          Pink onions

                                                          Mama is from landlocked Mali so when she wants to make attiéké back home, she needs to buy frozen fish. Here she does find the very same frozen fish a short walk from her home but if she wants it fresh, she just goes to Château-Rouge market where large groupers are sold by the slice. That is not something she could have in Mali.

                                                          Attiéké she will also find at Château-Rouge or nearer, imported from the Ivory Coast.
                                                          Purple onions can be found anywhere but African stores in Paris do carry delicious pink onions from Africa (it is said that Malian onions are the best in the world).
                                                          Chillies will be from Martinique or Guadeloupe, they are practically the same ones that she has in Bamako.
                                                          Butter is not a problem.
                                                          None of these ingredients is expensive (okay, the fish, but that's no poulet de Bresse really).

                                                          But that is a simple dish. More mysterious ingredients like sumbala, pumpkin seed paste, kola nuts, several kinds of igname, various sweet potatoes, stockfish, smoked catfish, smoked capitaine, powdered shrimp, red palmnut oil (sometimes directly from Togo in mineral water bottles), etc. are quite easy to find here, and in great condition.

                                                          1. re: Ptipois

                                                            Clearly, it makes sense to try these foods in Paris. It's not the same as trying the odd Mexican in Greece or the Pizza in Prague. With the Francophone countries, it's part of the culture. I didn't know about the Wenzhou connection. Thanks for that.

                                                            Bravo, I hope to see the printed or electronic version of your project.

                                                            1. re: Steve

                                                              "Bravo, I hope to see the printed or electronic version of your project." That goes for many of us, I'm sure! (This has is a great thread.) -- Jake

                                                            2. re: Ptipois

                                                              Great post and I also hope to see all of this compiled (hopefully in English?) somewhere at some point.

                                                              I went to Tang Brothers when I was near Place D'Italie and I was really impressed with the selection. A single store carried virtually everything one could find in New York or London across collections of Vietnamese, Thai and Chinese supermarkets. Even South Asian items like banana flowers were readily available. I know about two places to get those in London (both Bangladeshi) and they are nearly impossible to find in New York. Really cool store overall. Highly recommended. Very weak on Korean products, but this isn't Bayside in Queens or New Malden in Southwest London.

                                                              1. re: Ptipois

                                                                I agree, But at the same time sometimes I think I could forgo some of the more "exotic" ingredients that I can procure here and which in today's globalised markest have become ubiquitous if, en contre partie, I could try some of the local produce that I've read about but that is impossible to procure, like Montreuil peaches.

                                                                1. re: vielleanglaise

                                                                  Totally agree about the Montreuil peaches.

                                                                  The Korean products are to be found along the rue Sainte-Anne, and boy are there some. Now they even carry quince jelly tea.

                                                                  1. re: Ptipois

                                                                    The Korean lemon-honey tea is excellent for winter nights.

                                                2. Hi all,

                                                  Just reviving this thread as it was fantastically useful. I`m back in Paris (complete with a job and money this time) and I will be ging to a few of these places again. I will make a thread where I can request some French places, but I would also love some additions to this list.

                                                  Many thanks,


                                                  1 Reply
                                                  1. re: JFores

                                                    "I would also love some additions to this list."
                                                    Not cheap by any means (107 E a couple), but genuine (at least based on my year in the 'Nam) is the relatively new Table de Vietnam in the 7th; just locating it there rather than in the 13th or Belleville tells you something. I ate there with a lady who knows more about French and other cuisines than anyone i know and I think I can safely say she loved it. (It's taken some dings on other sites which I think are meanspirited). You judge. (I did not rate it on the usual 0-10/10 BotScale because I'm too far removed from eating such food daily).
                                                    More at