Before we left for Paris, my wife indicated that she was interested in going to a non-French restaurant during our vacation in France. For me, this immediately removes Mexican from consideration as we are spoiled with good Mexican food in LA.
Eating Italian food wouldn’t be something to talk about when we got home. Thinking about the French influence on Vietnamese food, I figured that would be a good bet. However, a restaurant that only focuses on pho and banh mi would be removed from consideration.
When I suggest Vietnamese food to many of my friends, a surprising number of them would rather not try it. Fortunately, my cousins have been to Vietnamese restaurants and enjoy the cuisine.
I quickly narrowed my search to a restaurant named Luc Hong in the 16th arrondissement. With a name that does not include “Saigon” or “Pho”, I figured the restaurant would have to stand on its own merits. From its reviews, the pho, however, was outstanding. To me, an outstanding pho broth does not demonstrate the talent of a chef.
They opened shortly after 7:00 p.m. and we were one of two groups that were waiting for the restaurant to open. The inside was furnished with a lot of Asian black lacquered furniture and cushions decorated with flowers. It also had a stocked aquarium and some interesting Asian dolls on display.
The menus were in French and we could barely make out some of the dishes. Fortunately, the owner, Co Tuyet, had a good command of English and assisted us with our order. From my research, I knew that people enjoyed their bánh xèo and so we ordered that.
After she described the lobster papaya salad and the mixed barbecue we decided on both. Throughout our vacation, I kept looking for a German riesling and kept striking out. We ended up with a French chablis as our beverage.
The bánh xèo (Vietnamese pancake) had an omelette like appearance and cut into four triangular shaped slices. It was filled with bean sprouts and large pieces of shrimp. The combination of spices, green onions, turmeric and coconut cream made this a delicious dish. It was served with a side of nuoc nam dipping sauce.
We loved the presentation of the Lobster papaya salad. What appeared to be whole lobster, was the main parts of the lobster shell with the meat extracted. It was mixed with slivers of pineapple, papaya and some Asian herbs. The fish sauce dressing significantly enhanced the taste the salad.
Tuyet asked if I like hot sauce. She added that she makes her own. Not wanting to miss out on the opportunity, I agreed. I took about a teaspoon and mixed it with the papaya salad. I could immediately my sweat glands kicking into gear and became our table’s source for comedy.
She doubled the mixed barbecue plate for us and it arrived on a huge platter. BBQ pork, shrimp, grouper, green leaf lettuce, grilled onions and Asian herbs were on top of a bed of rice noodles. We wrapped these items with a piece of lettuce and dipped it in the nuoc nam sauce – wonderful!
Unlike in Little Saigon (Orange County), Parisians are willing to pay for good food. The average price per dish is significantly higher than the same type of dish made in the OC. The locals understand and appreciate quality ingredients and food prepared to traditional methods.
This place was a significant find for us and if you enjoy Vietnamese food, you should make this a stop while you are in Paris.
This post is the last in a series for our trip to France. I hope you enjoyed reading it. If you have any questions, feel free to contact me.