The 5 best things I ate in Paris: January

In this series, I round up the five best things I ate in a particular city or country. Each month on the 15th, I feature a destination from my past travels; on the last day I recap the best of the month in Paris. 

Let’s play a game called, Guess which ethnic cuisine Edna was leaning towards this month?

Before the haters start commenting — “But you live in Paris, why don’t you eat French food?” — I actually do visit an equal number of French and Asian restaurants here in Paris. But, nothing on the French side stood out this month — whereas on the Asian side, I found a number of places that were so authentic they made me feel like I was back in Asia. So this month, they win. But hey, there’s still at least one French place on here….

1. Frenchie Bar à Vins

I’ll be upfront: the Frenchie wine bar is not a place to go on a budget. However, it is quality for your money; you basically get Frenchie without having to pay Frenchie prices (or struggling to get a reservation at the restaurant, which is located directly across the street from the wine bar). And if those delectable dishes — which are best shared — aren’t enough to convince you, there’s an open kitchen-style window where you can watch the chefs work their magic.

For more on the wine bar (all three below have claimed Frenchie as the best meal they’ve had in Paris):
Diane, A Broad
Will She Love Paris?
RBJello

2. Deux Fois Plus de Piment

Authentic Sichuan food in Paris — I never would have believed it possible if I hadn’t checked it out for myself and set most of my tongue on fire eating a bowl of mapo dofu. This is the real deal, folks: the spice, the rice, and especially the numbing Sichuan peppercorns. If anyone ex-China expats are missing some quality 麻辣, get yourself to DFPDP immediately. No, really, like right now. I’ll join you.

3. Sapporo

Japanese curry, believe it or not, is actually one of my comfort foods. When I moved to Dalian, a city in northern China full of Japanese and Korean expats, I was introduced to staples like kimchi, barley tea, and Japanese curry (served by an adorable old Chinese lady in a hole-in-the-wall she named Cafe Trattoria, which was frequented by Russians. I had no idea which country I was in when I ate there).

The first time I tasted the curry at Sapporo, I literally felt like I’d been transported — in that moment, I could have sworn I was 18 again and sitting in that tiny cafe in northern China. It was magical. And while I can’t promise you any magical moments, I can promise you the curry is worth trying…and coming back for on a weekly basis.

4. Dawa

My love of Korean food also stems from the same story above. I especially love bibimbap, which is rice, vegetables, an egg (and often meat) served in an extremely hot stone pot. The bowl is brought out sizzling, and you mix everything up while it’s still hot. Tip: I personally like my rice a bit burnt, so I mix the veg and meat on top first and let the rice sit at the bottom of the bowl for a while until it’s a nice crispy brown.

By the way, just as a testament to Dawa’s authenticity: the first time I came here, the table next to me was a large party of middle-aged Korean women. Surely they know what’s what.

5. La Chine Massena

This photo should tell you all you need to know about La Chine Massena. It is proper dim sum. (For those not familiar, dim sum is meant to be served on carts; you order baskets as they’re wheeled past your table.) Everything we tried was as good as you could expect for dim sum in Paris, with a couple notable exceptions: the xiaolongbao are a pass, but the steamed pork buns are pretty solid.

(More on La Chine Massena here.)

When I started this series exactly a year ago, I was only meant to stay in Paris until the end of 2012. I’m ecstatic that I’ve extended my contract here and am able to continue exploring, eating, and sharing for a few months more!

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Comments

  1. Aryn says:

    That’s the great thing about large cities- the ethnic diversity ensures that the food is never boring! That’s why I loved visiting my friends in New York. Moroccan food one day, Korean the next!

  2. tippy says:

    the photos make me so hungry! Really enjoy your blog though!

    xx

  3. erica says:

    I’m not going to lie, it kind of kills my soul that Japanese curry has random red spices and kimchee on it, BUT we’ll just call it fusion and I’d totally try it. The pickle that usually goes with curry in Japan is called fukujinzuke and I usually have the same amount of that as rice. Gross, I know, but SO GOOD.

    OMG THE PEPPERCORNS. So numbing, but SO GOOD. WHYYYYY

    • edna says:

      I mean, I ordered the kimchi curry specifically because I wanted both curry and kimchi. They do offer just a pork version. Thanks for teaching me what that pickled stuff is called! It IS so good. It’s alll so good.

  4. I totally agree that the only way to do dim sum is with carts! None of this ordering off of menus nonsense… And I’m not just saying this because as a non-Chinese speaker, the pointing method of ordering is so much more effective than randomly picking from a list of meaningless characters.

    (OK, I might be saying it for that reason… ;) )

  5. I feel that the only budget food in Paris is kebab or falafel:) The rest is a choise between quality for high price or non quality for high price:) So wine bar will do once in a while.

  6. ooooooooh I miss Dim Sum! Will go to La Chine Messena as soon as I can. xx

  7. Amanda says:

    Hi!! Just wanted to take a minute to tell you that I just discovered your blog and I LOVE it!! I can’t wait to go back and read through the archives! :)

  8. Alexa Hart says:

    Two word: FOOD PORN
    Awesome to see Korean food making the list. I love burnt rice in bibimbap!

  9. Mmmm – what a delicious roundup! I need to try the new larger Frenchie Bar à Vins this coming summer (I loved its smaller version!) and maybe even get in to the regular restaurant! Also, La Chine Massena has been on my list for years. Must. Go. Soon! As in, July!

    • edna says:

      My friend is currently dating the sous at Frenchie so we’ve been going there a LOT, and I’m still not sick of it! And oh please let me know when you’re back in July so we can meet up for dim sum!

  10. Usha says:

    Hi Edna
    I came through via Carin and Milsters and you can now count me as a new follower/reader!

    I loved Frenchie when I visited last September – I stood at the bar and ordered this amazing foie gras app. I was glad I was dining solo because upon my first bite there was no way I was going to share!

    (ps looking forward to combing through your archives this weekend)

    • edna says:

      Thanks Usha, glad you enjoy the blog and thanks for letting me know — comments like that make my day! And I know exactly what foie gras you’re talking about — incredible, isn’t it?!

  11. Yum. ALl the food looks delicious. And who says you have to always eat French food just because you’re in France!

  12. Glad to know that there are several Asian restaurants in Paris that can be compared to the real thing. Sometimes you can just grow tired of eating pastries and meat marinated in a red-wine sauce.

  13. Lavinia says:

    OMG! This post has changed my life. Moved to Paris in January and have been craving all foods Asian for a while – especially the goodies you’ve featured. Thank you for the insider tips – will definitely be trying some out this week!

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