Korean in Paris
So my family and I have relocated as Tokyo chow hounds, to being Paris chow hounds since February.
We have ventured enough in Paris so far ( with a 3 year old in tow). To start writing in the forum.
So recently we have been craving Korean. Especially korean BBQ
Last week we really wanted to go to Bong over in the 15eme Have read and heard many great things about it. We drove there and found parking in a lot about 10 minutes away and when we got there, the owner said to me in Korean French that they were full. End of conversation, didn't really even offer for us to wait or discuss any other alternatives. We looked in and it looked legit. Grills on every table. I can't wait to eventually get in this place.
So we found a nearby korean called Dami on rue dupleix. No grills here but they had some bbq and traditional dishes. Ordered a seafood paejan, soondooboo chigae, dolsol bibimbab, and bulgogi. Everything was solid. Panchan was limited compared to the US and Korea. Although I wouldnt order the bulgogi again. We would definitely go back.
So the following week(last night) we craved BBQ again and tried to call Bong and make a Reservation. Once again they are full. I think we are going to call a week ahead next time. So I scour the Internet and naively listen to tripadvisor and its commentators. We head to Korean BBQ on rue ponthieu off of Champs Ely. Wow what a mistake. They say korean BBQ, but of course it has Japanese food also. Japanese in Tokyo is a whole other topic. (Wife and mother in law are Japanese, and we just moved here from Tokyo, so I think we have the credentials to judge Japanese cuisine). No panchan, no lettuce with BBQ, just meat. Comes with generic soup, a bowl of rice with some pickled veggies on it. And we just ordered our daughter a California roll. Meat was frozen and kinda just whatever's. we ate quickly and just got the heck out of there as tourists and French customers were starting to come in. Definitely will not be back there.
So until our next venture, and hopefully I will be able to write about Bong soon.
Well since we live here now, we get a M-F daily dose of French or western food. I'm Chinese so I usually cook Chinese at home and mother in law is Japanese so we get that as well. We also crave Thai, Viet, and Korean, but that's usually eating out.
You don't understand us Asians. We gotta have our rice man!
You may also try Hang-a-li rue de Louvois, Samo rue Duvivier, Wabosso rue des Ciseaux, Manna rue de Lourmel, Woury rue Humblot (near Métro Dupleix).
Woury has changed name recently so it seems, but I peeked in and it is still as full as ever. Hang-a-li and Woury have best yuk hwe ever and this is the dish I primarily look for when I go to a Korean restaurant.
There are more to discover, there is no shortage of Korean restaurants in Paris.
In the realm of minor restaurants, I've got a trio of very nice ones in my neighborhood, with funny names as often happens with Korean restaurants in Paris: Oh! Chapeau! rue du Petit-Moine, Olive rue Daubenton, and one I forgot the name of, rue Pascal (right near the bridge with boulevard de Port-Royal running over it).
Chikoja on rue Sainte-Anne looks like a Chinese-Japanese-whatever place but it in fack Korean and serves very, very good freshly made noodles.
Places to avoid:
Any "historic" place named "Korean barbecue" or bearing the words anywhere on the facade. These were the earliest restaurants of the type in Paris (late 1970s) and they are invariably terrible. The one on rue de Ponthieu is one of them (too bad it caught you), there is also another one rue Delambre in the 14th, run away from that one too.
Opera Guibine on rue Sainte-Anne seems to do things right but actually uses massive doses of MSG and you can feel it at the first bite. Not nice.
Bibimbap on boulevard de l'Hôpital got a bit of a buzz since François Simon reviewed it (of all places), but the food is globally tasteless except for one very nice fried chicken appetizer.
One final word of advice: if ever you want to cook Korean at home, you'll find all the necessary stuff at three well-stocked Korean supermarkets:
- K-Mart on rue Sainte-Anne,
- Ace-Mart further up on rue Sainte-Anne (near rue Saint-Augustin), older and a bit messier.
Thanks for the heads up. Yeah we go to either Chinatown for our Asian supplies or the disgustingly expensive Kioko Japanese market in Opera. We walked by a Korean market in that area but haven't had a chance to go in yet. Is that one of the ones that you mentioned?
We live in the upper 16th with a 3 year old and 78 year old mother in law in tow. So we often sacrifice convenience and proximity over quality. Miss the old days of just venturing and end up wherever my wife and I would end up.
As a matter of fact many of the restaurants I mentioned are in the 15eme. That is indeed where most Korean restaurants are, probably because much of the Korean community in Paris lives in the Front de Seine area.
Wabosso is in the 6eme and yes, my hood is the lower part of the 5eme.
Chikoja and Hang-a-li are in the Opéra-Sainte-Anne goldmine section.
It must be summer because we finally got a reservation at Bong's tonight. The wife called at 4pm for a 7 o'clock, just for the hell of it and believe it or not we got in. So needless to say, not disappointed at all. I would not put it up against the Korean in Korea, New York, tokyo! or Cali, but it is great for France. We started with the seafood paejeon. It was ok. Then came the kalbi, and tongue. The kalbi was kind of tough. I seriously have marinated softer beef here in Paris. A friend of ours from Tokyo brought over this fermented rice stuff that you marinate with anything. We did it with steaks and made the most tender steaks. Ok, but I digress. So the tongue was really good. All the fixings are really good for Paris standards. They gave you more of any side dishes that you requested. Then came the soondooboo chigae. It was very very good and comforting. We ordered our daughter the kalbi tang and she loved it. Very flavorful. By the time we were leaving the house was packed and smoky. We were all throughly satisfied. And the service was great. The two older guys (maybe the owners) really liked my daughter and was very nice to us. Guess it didn't hurt to throw in the few korean words that we knew from our friends.
It's the best so far in Paris and we will gladly go back again and again if we can land another reservation anytime soon. If not I guess there's always next summer.
It's pricey but this is the restaurant the Korean Embassy folks frequent and it's close to you: Woo Jung, 8, boulevard Delessert, 16th. It's fancy and formal and full of Koreans. When I get a craving for Korean food I usually go to Odori, 18 Rue Letellier, 15th, casual and moderately priced. They have an inexpensive lunch menu and are kid friendly as the chef and his wife have a young child themselves. I think the chef there used to work at Woo Jung.
I recently tried the Shin Jung on rue Mademoiselle for lunch. Food was OK, but pretty average Parisian standard as far as I could tell from one visit by two people.
I can recommend Shingané right off place Gambetta (not exactly where you'd expect to come across a Korean place). "Atmospheric" dining room and really friendly staff. Everything I've tried there has been excellent. I haven't had their barbecue yet.