Haute couture & latest fashions. Beautiful, romantic architecture under atmospheric skies. These might visually capture one’s imagination of Paris by delighting the eye. But what of the other senses? How, for example, does contemporary Paris taste? Gourmet, exquisite, rewarded by mystic Michelin stars, drawing upon the fresh seasonal produce of local farmer’s markets—long before it was hip, we might add—and copied all over the world? Oui, bien sûr. But the gastronomic Paris we want to share is not because it offers the best cuisine in the world but rather because it also offers the best cuisine of the world.
In tourist districts one might still hear: “Tell me where you can eat snails ?” Or “Does your menu have frog legs?” Perhaps not surprisingly, Parisians have long left snails and frogs to the mercy of tourists, and they prefer a more diverse and less patterned cuisine. After all, the food should not only saturate, but also surprise, intrigue, and even inspire. Therefore, if you have already tried an infinite number of cheeses, crispy baguettes and foie gras then maybe it is time to discover new facets of Parisian gastronomy. We have tried many restaurants personally and are now pleased to share with you a few of our favorite ones exemplifying the best of international cuisine:
Behind the window of a small two-floor restaurant and under the attentive look of visitors are created masterpieces of real Japanese cuisine: okonomiyaki. Basically, people come by trusted word-of-mouth recommendation and they are ready to wait. We stood in line for at least 20 minutes…but it was worth it. On the ground floor there is a very small kitchen and a tiny passage with stairs leading to the upper floor. The hall is quite small—all in red—and the flavors are wonderful.
Okoknomiyaki is a Japanese savory pancake containing a variety of ingredients: the batter is made of flour, grated nagaimo (a type of yam), water or dashi, eggs and shredded cabbage, and usually contains other ingredients – meat or seafood, topped with katsuobushi flakes (dried and smoked tuna). All of this is served under a thick sweet-and-sour sauce that units all the ingredients and serves as the final brush stroke in this small masterpiece. We rated it 10 out of 10! For dessert, we recommend “Green tea” ice cream as it is made on the basis of Japanese matcha (or “matte”), which is used for classic tea ceremonies.
The restaurant is located in the heart of the Japanese Quarter, just around the corner from Garnier opera house, on Saint Anna Street. In the evening multi-colored neon signs will make you believe that you have stepped into Asia. And in numerous specialized stores you can buy all the necessary ingredients for a Japanese dinner at home.
« Happa Tei »
Adress: 64 Rue Sainte Anne 75002 PARIS
Open: Mon – Sat 12-2pm / 7pm-10pm, Sun closed
Tel: +33 1 42 96 60 40
Well, have you ever tried Ethiopian cuisine? 🙂 If yes, then you are lucky. For us it was our the first time and quite exciting experience. Unlike the previous restaurant, Menelik is located far from all tourist districts and busy neighborhoods. Behind an unremarkable window opens up a small world of great Ethiopia. Full eclecticism in the decor: hats, paintings with Ethiopian women in bright outfits, amulets, musical instruments and photographs of people unknown to us, but precisely known to those who hung them.
The owners probably foresaw that among their customers there will be many “newcomers” and created a special introduction dish (découverte)—a mix of different traditional dishes on one large plate. Do not wait for the cutlery here—the Ethiopians eat with their hands, or rather with their right hand, using injera (a large sourdough flatbread) to “grab” the garnishes with sauces spread on it. We all remember from childhood that it is so much tastier? 🙂 In this place, the proverb about “licking your fingers” can be perceived literally.
« Menelik »
Adress: 4 Rue Sauffroy, 75017 Paris
Open: Mon – Sun 12 noon-4pm / 7pm-12 midnight
Tel: +33 1 46 27 00 82
We continue our journey through the African continent and move to the north. A French wife and a Moroccan husband created this family-owned restaurant with a cosy atmosphere and elaborate decor. They meet guests every evening and provide the service themselves; from time to time they have a chat with regular customers. The menu features two main dishes in different variations: couscous and tajine. We especially liked the tajine with lamb (which simply melted in the mouth!), prunes and almonds!
This Mecca of Moroccan cuisine is not in the city center of Paris, but it is easy to reach by Metro—yes, we specially searched for you the rare pearls 🙂 Quite often all tables are occupied, so it is better to book in advance. Lifehack: on some days you can book a table on the lafourchette website and receive a a 30% discount. Link and details – at the end of the article.
« Le Riad »
Address: 2 Rue Gervex, 75017 Paris
Open: Mon – Sat 12 noon-3pm / 7pm-11pm
Tel: +33 1 43 80 53 63
To book a table with a discount follow the link: http://www.lafourchette.com/restaurant/le-riad/33147
Near the northern railway station in Paris (Gare du Nord) there is a large Indian district. Smells of oriental spices are everywhere and multicolor saris enliven shop windows. In a riot of colors and spices, we found Saravanaa Bhavan—one of the establishments of a chain of Indian vegetarian food restaurants, which are scattered all over the world. 33 are in India itself, and another 68 (!) In 18 other cities and countries, including Paris and London. When you arrive inside, you realize that for the owners, content is more important than form. A huge hall with very simple tables is like a station diner. But what surprises us at once is that we are the only Europeans in the huge hall. And as you know, the main indicator of quality food is the local audience. In this case, the Indians know best what’s what. We sit down, and people of all assortments arrive: in pairs, in large families, with children, and it is clear from all that they feel at home. And ourselves also; like in real India.
Indian cuisine has as many facets as the country itself with its 23 official languages—and even more dialects—as well as religious and cultural diversity. We decided to discover southern and northern India, ordering dishes of the same name “découverte” South and North of India. A large plate with bread in the center and pialos with different fillings in a circle. We played the game “Guess the ingredient”, but we succeeded in only half of them. We almost did not find any familiar tastes, so let’s name this dinner as discovery. Those who do not like hot spices, make sure you inform the waiter. They will still bring you spiced meal, but at least you will not feel like a fire-breathing dragon. Our favorite drinks – masala tea (on milk, with cane sugar or honey and incredibly aromatic spices). And if you prefer a real Indian cuisine with all the spices, then order lassi – traditional yougurt-based drink (the only cure to put out the fire, water will not help). And if you are open for experiments then order everything you see on the neighboring tables of Indians and enjoy the new sensations:) On the way home you can go to one of the many shops and buy masala tea, the same as you find at roadside cafes on the way from New Delhi to the Taj Mahal.
« Saravanaa Bhavan »
Adress: 170 Rue du Faubourg Saint-Denis, 75010 Paris
Open: Lun – Dim 10h30-23h00
Tel : +33 1 40 05 01 01
Imagine after three hours in the modern art Pompidou museum you go out into the street, pass a couple of meters and freeze in front of the display window of a Chinese eatery. The man behind the window waving a few meters of dough, which in his clever hands turns into thin Chinese noodles which then immediately go to soups with meat, fish or vegetables (many choices on the menu).
The restaurant is crowded but we find a table at the end of the hall. Almost all visitors are Asians. Soups here cost from 6.90 euros and they are delicious. So, for an original and affordable lunch in the center of Paris this is an ideal place.
« Happy Nouilles »
Address: 95 Rue Beaubourg, 75003 Paris
Open: Mon – Sun 11.30am-10.30pm / !! Tue closed
Tel : +33 1 44 59 31 22
In fact, in Paris of the 21st century there are many unusual cafes and restaurants, where each new dish will be a small discovery. Or maybe you have already been in such? If yes then please share with us—we will taste with pleasure!
PS : A huge thank you to Brian Buchalski for his great stylistic input and proofreading!
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