This week we, as in V and I, will be in London for a bit of a break and lots of Chinese food. For visitors coming over to Paris, here is some updates on some new and not-so-new discoveries. It is a little lopsided because the first part focuses on pastries which I don't mention often, and the second part is mostly recommendations of ethnic places.
Part I. R ue Dominique on the stretch nearest rue Cler is bakery central, every second shop sells baked goods. Boulangerie Julien at no 85 has very good bread, one Saturday I saw a chapata-this huge flat loaf studded with caramelized onions and could not resist buying a corner chunk. It was marvelous, with a dense but well-aerated texture for pleasurable chew and a top crust loaded with shallots sweet and just a little crunchy beneath the surface but deliciously caramelised on the flat plane .
Patisserie Lemoine across the road is where I usually go for congolais or coconut macaroons. The bébé version is cute and tiny, a sweet treat that doesn't make one feel guilty. Their canéles seem popular too but I find them a little too boring, I like mine dangerously burnt and chewy on the outside and very resilient inside while Parisians seem to prefer a golden brown version with almost custardy interior.
Veering left after exiting Lemoine is rue Jean Nicot, where Secco/Poujaran has two shops side by side always busy with streams of customers. I love their apple juice sold in glass bottles and these recent weeks with apples in season I have also been quite addicted to their tartes aux pommes which have irresistably flaky yet short crust and beautifully caramelised apples begging to be eaten with a dollop of crème fraiche. Their gougeres or little cheesy choux puffs are amazing too, much better than the ones at Le Moulin de la Vierge (62, rue St Dominique) but Moulin wins for their super crispy-sticky bittersweet palmieres.
Incidentally Figaroscope was rating pain aux chocolate in one of their editions. Secco was second, Sui Mai who was in town tried theirs and was not bowled over. I only noticed much later that Julien was rated no 1, sorry my friend!
We don't do many French restaurants, I just haven't found many places that I like to go more than once or twice with the exception of a tiny handful like Josephine chez Dumonet because I am so in love with their foie de veau, incidentally their souffle and millefeuille are not anywhere as good as their less showy but no less delicious tarte fine aux pommes.
What we have been doing a lot of is ethnic places. Indian food is not difficult to find but the food at so many of these places are dreadful, even along rue Cail where the best we can hope for is leaden thosais with cement fritters. For a long time we only liked Aarchana at 19 rue Telegraph which is in the 20th arr, too far for us. One day we decided to try New Jawad at 12 ave Rapp in the 7th, two bus stops away from our apartment. We were pleasantly surprised. The mango pickle is not as good as Aarchana's but they have banana chutney which V loves.
Their tandoori dishes are above average, and their pakoras and bhajis not bad but what I love is their butter chicken which is a dish that has been murdered many times over in so many other places (worst culprit: high-end Ratn). At New Jawad it is mild and creamy with coconut milk and almonds, hardly authentically Indian but very good for what it is, a subtly spiced comfort dish. New Jawad is one of three restaurants named after the owner's sons, their other restaurants are Old Jawad at 1, rue Monsigny in the 2nd arr and New Balal at 25 rue Taitbout in the 9th arr.
Paris is awash with Vietnamese eateries but we have never really warmed up to its Vietnamese food. Not until we were in the Marais one afternoon in June with my mother and aunt and we came across Minh Chau on 10 rue de la Verrerie. It is a tiny place with little tables and a never-ending stream of customers who dine in or order food to go. The nems are delicious, the summer rolls also good, and among the hot dishes I like their roast pork, caramelised pork ribs and lemongrass chicken while husband always orders their pepper beef. The food tastes home-cooked and a meal there is cheap and satisfying. The motherly owner is friendly and her four children help her run the business which has been in the neighbourhood for about 20 years!
In July they opened H3C at nearby 9 rue du Renard to serve pho. It is a more ample space with a menu limited to pho and some grilled meat with rice dishes as well as simple appetisers like a delicately piquant dish of cold tofu marinated in ginger sauce. The pho is very good too but not scalding hot as I prefer, the soup has a pleasingly beefy yet clean flavour with fresh meat and rather likeable beef balls.
Korean is our favourite cuisine at the moment and top in our Korean list is Seoul at 165 rue de Javel in the south part of the 15th arr. Husband loves their pork with kimchi but I dream about their bo-ssam, the cold almost gelatinous belly pork complementing nicely with oyster kimchi with and an occasional respite of cold tofu to calm the palate. Another specialty is their braised oxtail, sweet and garlicky with lots of plump gingko nuts. I always overorder when I eat here so we can enjoy the leftovers the following days.
The only Chinese restaurant we go to is Les Jardins de Mandchourie. Everything is good and fresh, they even have red bean soup which they augment with roasted peanuts. This is another overorder-and-takeaway place.
Among Japanese places, we are still going often to Inaniwa Umami-an for simple izakaya dishes. Isami for sushi. Nodaiwa for eel dishes. A new favourite is Zenzan at 4 rue Brey in the 17th arr. Typical multitasker izakaya place that serves very good standard dishes like tonkatsu, sukiyaki, tempura etc but we must leave room for their home made dorayaki.
Finally, I want to mention Chez Chung (49 Blvd Gouvion Saint Cyr). It is the only place in town that one can get remotely Singaporean food. Singapore Airlines crew staying at the nearby Meridien Porte Maillot has for years been treating this place as a canteen of sorts, along the way they've taught the eatery how to adapt some dishes to suit Singaporeans. Here is where we get our fix of meepok, fried kangkong and prawn paste chicken. No pepper crabs unfortunately but they do make an enjoyable version of salt and pepper prawns.