Paris Chinatown district should rather be nicknamed Asiatown, as it is strongly influenced by the South East Asian cultures from Vietnam, Cambodia and Thailand ( many members still being from the Chinese diaspora of those countries) . It is quite different from London’s Chinatown who is mainly under Hong Kong cultural influence.
Walk around Avenue de Choisy and d’Ivry and you’ll be surprised by the number of shops and restaurants serving Vietnamese and Thai food.
A few addresses I am happy to share with you, in case you are tired of European cuisine and want to have a change. Hong Kong, Vietnam, China, every cuisine at reasonable rates.
There are surely plenty of good addresses of Vietnamese restaurants in Paris. Browse the Internet and you will find plenty of forums tipping you on this or that Pho restaurant ( Pho 95, Pho13, Pho94, etc). Pho is the traditional Vietnamese soup with beef and veggies. People say it is a mix of thr French pot au feu and the Chinese noodle soup.
Further to the Vietnam War, thousands of Vietnamese families escaped the Vietcong regime and found refuge in France in the 70ies. Many settled in Chinatown. Later on, the Cambodian refugees arrived as well, escaping the Khmers Rouges insane dictature.
On French speaking websites, you will see all kinds of reviews, some from French people whose palates are actually not much educated to Asian real gastronomy .
Others are rebuked by the manners of Asian restaurants, where the bill will be brought to you as soon as you are done. Others have travelled a lot in Asia but review the cooking as per their own Western standards which are not a guarantee of quality.
Thanks to my Far Eastern origins, I am a bit more able to distinguish if the food is up to standard or not ( from an Asian gastronomy standards point of view). One thing I dread is the restaurant using MSG to hide poor culinary skills. I also try to avoid the places where they serve the usual quick stuff for French office lunchers.
One good restaurant I have just tested with family and friends today is Comme au Vietnam, the restaurant is located near the Place d’Italie metro station. It is modern and clean but serves excellent traditional Vietnamese cuisine, 100% homemade by a Vietnamese family. They are renowned for their pho made of natural ingredients, no shortcuts with powder. You can feel the taste of the beef marrowbone.
The Pho soup is slowly stewed for 10 hours before being served to customers with fresh ingredients. The desserts are either homemade or purchased from a local pastry chef who prepares durion bavarois cakes or green tea, mango-passion fruit or sesame parisian macaroons ( the Laduree style of macarons).
The good bargain is the tea or coffee with a big macarron at 5.80 euros. In French, this combo is called thé gourmand or café gourmand.
They also serve an excellent Vietnamese crepe very crispy and rich. It is like a calzone pizza for the shape but inside you’ll find shrimps. Some specialties are spicy, others are not. We tested the satay pho , the classic pho , the shrimp crab soup and the crepes ( Banh Xieo).
The crepes are only served on evenings and weekends.
I tested the thé gourmand ( means tea + big size macaron) and the coconut plantain bananas. The bananas dessert was refined in taste, not the usual sugary dessert with stuffy bananas slices. The plantain bananas bring the tangy flavour necessary to balance back the coconut milk.
Everyone was satisfied by the meal and premises design. The interior design is convenient and clean, not kitsch like most Chinese restaurants around. Perfect to invite friends. You can talk in a calm yet friendly atmosphere. If you like the street style atmosphere with little chairs on the sidewalk, you will find plenty of places like that next door.
I actually discovered this restaurant through a radio programme hosted by a popular French cuisine reporter called Laurent Mariotte.
The owners are a family arrived in France in 1985. The father , Mr Truong, is the chef.
195, avenue de Choisy
My father’s best friend, a Cantonese old gentleman, often has lunch in Chinatown. He’s a connoisseur of the good restaurants in Chinatown. He recommended to me this buffet called Jardin d’Asie. It is 13.50 euros only and you have a nice choice of Chinese, Cambodian and Vietnamese food.
I entered the place to grab a namecard and got a good greeting from the boss.
It is funny to see the bad reviews on their FB page come from non Asian people, whereas the good reviews come from Asians…
You can see a video here made by some blogger.
Jardin d’Asie- 78 Rue Baudricourt , 75013 Paris
Another place who wins full approval by Asians and non Asians is Imperial Choisy.
It is a Cantonese restaurant run by a Cantonese family. You can see all of them working together to serve an excellent choice of traditional Cantonese roasted meats ( roasted duck, crispy roasted pork, char siu, etc). I think they are Hong Kong people actually.
These dishes are easy to enjoy and accessible to most international palates. Hence their unanimous positive reviews.
My father and my uncles can make excellent traditional 100% natural char siu roasted pork , so I can confirm this restaurant complies with the tradition and meet the standards. In Hong Kong or London, you ‘ll be able to find even better in some places, but this one is really good for Paris. You dont see those roasts made with raspberry red powder…you know when the rice becomes red.
I tested their duck last New Year’s Eve. They sell take away a duck for 21 euros, a bargain. You can ask them to cut the duck and they will nicely squeeze the morsels in two nice boxes with sauce.
The premises are modern , not some cheesy plastic deco with some sticky floor tiles. I dont mind the old fashioned premises if the food is good, but 21st century premises won’t hurt either.
32 Avenue de Choisy – Paris 13ème
Métro : Porte de Choisy
Tél. : 01 45 86 42 40
Previously on this blog- Les Jardins de Mandchourie.