Thursday, August 30, 2012

Pho Banh Cuon 14 - (Paris)

  I love my pho and banh cuon but ever since I came back to Hong Kong I hardly eat these anymore,  the whole diet literally changed over night.  I know some people don’t buy the fact that I actually give out ratings on my blog at the end of the meals,  but I did try as much as I possibly could to be a responsible food blogger and this Paris Vietnamese restaurant illustrates why this is necessary.    I have to say realistically that  Paris has some pretty darn good Vietnamese food.   Compared to Pho Song Houng (Paris) directly next door, one of their fiercest competitors,  Pho Banh Cuon 14 is slightly weaker in terms of the broth but it more than makes up for it in terms of accuracy in ingredients and herbs.



The presence of both Culantro (ngo gai) and Thai Basil (Hung Que) -
Is convincing already.   Northern and Southern Vietnamese phos differ slightly in terms of the depth of broth or the default herbs given.   But how many shops in Hong Kong or Australia even provide this full package?  I have to buy my own usually.  Rice Paddy Herbs (Ngo Om) aren’t as common but are sometimes given out as well.



Lemon instead of Lime -
Vietnamese food always reminds me of Mexican Food.   The denominator is often Lime.
Lemon and Lime are used inter-exchangedly.  But personally, green lime is the way to go.  The Hoi Sin sauce is probably more of a Southern accent.


Bahn Cuon -
The rice paper roll is made thinly well, filled with minced pork meat and wood ear mushrooms.  Sided by a already cooked Goi Lua Vietnamese Mortadella like ham.  I still remember back in the days,  a lot of Bahn Cuons were served with slices of semi-raw fermented pork Nem Chua.  Do you remember those days when food was more adventurous?    ~  8/10


Pho Dac Biet – Noodles with the Lot  €7,90
I am impressed.  This came with all the right stuff,  including rare sliced beef,  beef brisket,  beef balls, beef tripes, but no tendons from memory. And right herbs.   Broth wise it might not be as good as next door, review: Pho Song Houng (Paris) in terms of beefiness depth,  but here it is more balanced in every aspect.   Addictive stuff and you can’t find this quality in Hong Kong or even Australia easily.  It needs to be just right  ~  9/10

There is usually a fairly large queue -
Upon 2 separate visits I have to say I am totally hooked with here,  but it is becoming more touristy than the Belleville side of town.    Don’t forget  the French used to rule Vietnam so there is definitely some linkage in there somehow.   Here, at least they did give out the right herbs and beef tripes.  It’s not something you can take for granted!   Some places just don’t seem to care anymore!    



Price:   Euro $10 ~ 15
Ease of Access:   4/5  (Close to Tolbiac Station)
Food:   ♕♕♕♕♕ 1/2

Opening Hours:
Every Day -  9:00am to 11:00pm

Address: 129 Avenue de Choisy, Paris  75013
Ph: 01 45 83 61 15

Sunday, August 26, 2012

La Pâtisserie des Rêves - (Paris)

   Philippe Conticini is the main perpetrator behind this relatively new patisserie shop arrival into Paris and Japan.   It’s hard to decide exactly where to begin,  but he has led the French National pastry team to have won the International Coupe du Monde de la Pâtisserie en 2003 award.  Philippe also worked in many a Michelin 1-3 Stars restaurants and pastry shops and on top of his impressive CV,  some of his pastry inspirations are known to be derived from Japanese influence,  in particularly his version of the circularly piped modern Paris Brest.   His other signature includes an improvised St Honore cake.     I am going to tell you however, I deliberately didn’t order these 2 items.   1st of all I have already had some utterly amazing mille-feuilles and eclairs from both Jacques Genin and Sadaharu Aoki alone,  from which I wanted to compare the alternatives in terms of executions.


This is the New Outlet -
In the 16e,  along Rue de Longchamp.
It is said to be more spacious and where quality can be ensured. 
(But Shop outlets do vary,  so I will need to try others to know better..!)

The Glass Domes -
It looks pretty enough,
But about the final products quality… ??  Yet to find out.

Arrrghh…  I can’t breathe.  Let me out !!
Just saying.  These are just displays after all.   The final ordered products come from somewhere below the shop,  behind the scene.   It’s all a bit hidden and secretive.


They didn’t look as pretty or neat as I’d thought -
After all,  this is meant to be one of the hottest pastry shops in Paris right now..

Some Marshmallows and Turkish Delights -
It is not only about French pastries here either,  with other European inputs.


The Reve’s Signatures -  Japanese inspired Paris Brest,  & St Honore
Although I didn’t ordered these due to explained reasons above,  I still think pâte feuilletée and choux pastries are already presented below somewhat,  just minus the toffeed coating on the St Honore.  


A Terrace, for enjoying the Afternoon in the open -


Aqua Chiara,  is not a brand of Mineral or Rain water -
It is a purification technology process,  which converts local tap water into something drinkable and to reduce carbon footprint and hydro-carbons.   A similar water can be found at Michelin 3 Starred The Fat Duck (Bray, UK) and other restaurants have begun adopting this gradually.


Viennoiserie items also on offer -
The brioche feuilletee au sucre is in fact another silent signature here,  you can see it displayed in prominent places inside the shop.   I even have the photos.   Wanted to eat it but it was too much of the same.  Next time !



Fresh Mille Feuille -
I actually only ordered this because when I walked in,  the staff were freshly slicing a big slab of this on the preparation table...  My initial choice otherwise would have been the St Honore version which had the same base beneath.   The most ironic thing?   This was freshly prepared and looked good enough,  but the end result was kind of ‘wet’.   The layers were there,  but it didn’t cut or bite through cleanly and appeared almost stale.  The crème patisserie was also a little weak in taste.  It is unfair to say this because this particular type of pastry doesn’t last long at prime condition,  but somehow I have had better at other places.   ~  6.5/10


Chocolate Éclair -
Choux Pastry base.  I guess this is still relatable to their more famous Paris Brests and St Honore?   This looked the deal with a malleable chocolate sheet bended around the choux pastry.   May be I was unlucky a second time,  but the choux was again limpy and caved in to fork pressure at will.  The taste was good overall mind you,  but with so many customers walking through the door already today and ensuring a good turnover rate,  I was starting to become skeptical…   ~  6.5/10




Price:   €20
Ease of Access:  2/5  (More on the Western side of Paris.  Near Arc de Triumph enough,  within 15 min walk.)
Food:  ♕♕♕ 1/2 – ♕♕♕♕

Opening Hours -
Tues-Sat 10:00am - 20:30pm
Sun 08:30am - 14:00pm

Address: France,  Pierre Hermé 72 rue Bonaparte 6e. 

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Pierre Herme ( II ) - (Paris)

  The rue Bonaparte shop of Pierre Herme has been on my must return to-do-list consecutively for the last two visits to this well known Parisian Chocolatier and Patisserie shop.    Café de la Mairie as explained during the previous review,   is where I normally take my pastries to chow down on asap, as they have an agreement somewhat with each another.   Please read that review to see how the fees can be waived.    If I can’t finish them on spot I will take them back to the hotel.  There are a few other Pierre Herme outlets in town but numerous sources have told me to visit here only.   A previous review of this same shop can be found at Pierre Herme (I), when I ate slightly different items to this time around.  

The Pierre Herme Rue Bonaparte Shop -
I was once told,   carried the most complete selection. 
I have seen some other Pierre Herme outlets, 
and to me the stuff here definitely looked the freshest.

Many Neat Looking and Pretty pastries here -
Where to begin,  ummmm?  Want to eat them all all over again!


Looking Great -
In fact,  I think these taste less sweeter than years ago for some reason.
Seems to be more lighter somewhat,  though not as light as the Japan pastry version.

Orangettes –
Candied orange coated in Chocolate.
This is for tasting,  and different from the Mendiant chocolate last time.



Macaron Flavours -
Including seasonal ones.

Rose & Jasmine -
Eden – Peach, Apricot & Saffron
Wanted to eat these as soon as possible,  since the last visit had these go super soft by night time.   Although the flavours were generally great,  the Rose & Jasmine flavoured one definitely had a soggy 1 side,  and the overall textures of these didn’t give enough resistance to a bite!    Fillings wise,  Hugo & Victor ones are similar in taste.  Gerald Mulot on the other hand had exciting fillings within the gerbet.   ~  7/10

Ispahan Croissant -
On top of the normal Ispahan macaron cake,  they have a few Ispahan creations.  This croissant was simply sublime to bite into,  it broke apart in your mouth like a millions shards of glass,  with a crystalline noise.   Not only that but it had alternating layers of raspberry,  lychee and rose petals.  ~  12/10

Pierre Herme Cannele/Canele -
This is the most perfect canale I have eaten in memory,  It had a perfect balance between a crispy outside shell with burnt-caramelised aroma,  inside a right mix of rum, milk and vanilla,  it even looked just right in the cross section.   The Laduree version was also quite nice but this was at another unattainable level.    Nothing I have tried elsewhere comes even close,  this was that good!   ~   15/10



Citron Tart -
Haha..  Theoretically,  anyone can do a great canele or a citrus tart.  But they usually don’t,  or at best is missing bits here and there.   But the one at Pierre Herme was utterly perfect.   The  pate sucre base did not fall apart,  but it crumbled easily under pressure.  This was of the best level I have ever tried.  The lemon curd was tart (pun intended!),  but balanced with lime and sugar and no sharp drop offs,  it was simply astonishing in taste.   ~  10/10




Price:   €20
Ease of Access:  3/5  (Just around St Sulpice
Food:  ♕♕♕♕♕ - ♕♕♕♕♕♕

Opening Hours -

Tue-Fri, Sun:  10am-7pm
Sat:   10am-7.30pm

Address: Pierre Hermé 72 rue Bonaparte 6e
Ph: 001 435 447 77

Saturday, August 18, 2012

Cafe de la Mairie - (Paris)

 This is a Blog entry that I have always wanted to type up for a special reason but it is not so much about the food.   In one of my lunch dishes here, yes I did upgraded my bread to the locally famous Poilane loaf to become part of my open faced Tartine sandwich,  perhaps an attraction in itself already,  but what is more attractive about this café is that they have a silent agreement with Pierre Herme’s rue Bonaparte shop!   Pastries and Macarons bought as take-away 1 street away at Pierre Herme (I)  can be eaten here without any extra charges.   It is actually a locals’ secret and I personally do want to eat my pastries ASAP from the shop especially knowing how quickly the PH Macarons can become all wet and deflated in no time.  This shop really comes in handy for fussy eaters like myself.   Customers on courtesy,  will need to order a drink or a beer to waive this fee.  I know businesses also need turnover to survive and I really appreciate this gesture,  so I do try to order food as well.  This is a culmination of 2 visits so don’t be surprised at how many drinks I did order below.  It spanned over 2 recent years.


The Bar -
I thought it was more Italian than French in layout,
but that just means they are cool !!

Café au Lait -
Made with local French roasted coffee.
I hardly order coffee in France by default,  I order tea only.  It is usually quite roasty and bitter.
The Café au Lait modern style version is made with espresso and milk directly.  This is more of a Caffe Latte than original Café au Lait version traditionally made with diluted black coffee base .  You could fault it on technicality too,  but taste matters more and this was more upfront bitter than average Italian cups.  If you like Starbucks style,  you will find your groove instantly here.  Not dissing it but they do have their own audience and if you add sugar. Personally this is not to my palate so it’s hard to explain.  But not bad from an objective level. ~  7/10

Kronenbourg 1664 -
Draught French beer,  within France.  The HK version is pretty loyal to this actually.
It really depends on where they are made these days.   This was as expected!  Not bad.


Night Time -
Came at night during 1 occasion too.

White Sauvignon House White -
Just wanted something refreshing.  Served chilled and quite citrusy. 
Not a good wine but ok enough as a quaffer.   I can cope yawn.



Out came a bottle of Salad Dressing -
More liquid than envisaged but quite cheesy.

Poilane Loaf with Gruyere cheese and Jambon Ham -
I don’t normally waste my quota on these.  I can buy Poilane bread in Hong Kong albeit stale,  and I can find better cheeses and ham to fill in the gaps.  But eating this tartine in Paris is a bit more fresher.   I didn’t think this was awesome but it did hold it’s appeal due to freshness alone.  I have had better sandwiches or open toasts but comparatively this was ok.  ~  7.5/10


Many people like to relax here, and it is Quite Crowded -
I have not seen another person to carry in their Pierre Herme desserts to dine here though.  But trust me the staff instantly knew on both of my visits and they remained really friendly and accommodative,  after all I was referred to here by the Pierre Herme staff to dine in.   I don’t normally think Paris service is that friendly unless you happen to be Japanese, or they assume you to be one.  During both occasions here however I can really feel they didn’t really care as long as you bring along some business to their cafe.    I do appreciate how friendly they treated me without forcing me to order expensive foods on both of my visits and when bringing in food from the nearby pastry shop. Real Thumbs up!  But as a courtesy do please order some wines, coffees or food to be fair  Smile

Price:   €3 to €15
Ease of Access:  3/5  (Hard to describe actually.  I always just find here with ease but it is not exactly near anything.  It is next to Saint Sulpice if you walk along St Germain somehow.  Somewhat Hidden.  But the nearby Pierre Herme shop is the one carrying the whole range of goodies.)
Food:  ♕♕♕♕

Opening Hours -
Mon - Sun:  11:30am - 14:30pm,   19:00pm - 23:00pm.

Address: 8 Place Saint-Sulpice, Paris, France

Ph: 01 43 26 67 82

Thursday, August 16, 2012

La Creperie de Josselin – (Paris)

  Uncertain as to whether all Paris visitors know of the famous Crepe street on Rue du Montparnasse, as there weren’t that many Asian faces that I had come to anticipate compared to the likes of Laduree or Angelina.    As someone who has a crepe fetish,  I have imprinted this street into my mind as the 1st place to visit if I long for crepes in Paris although I have always suspected  it to be also touristy,  hence sometimes I did try creperies in other areas.   This street is closer to the Edgar Quinet Metro station than the similarly named Montparnasse Bienvenue.    A train ride to Brittany or Normandy for good creperies meanwhile might only be a few hours away,  but it is always exciting to see so many Creperies all occupying the same street!   Paris locals might know of better Creperies in the more suburban areas, and if you do please do leave me a comment so I can work out where to visit next time around!    In the mean time,  this was another visit to Creperie de Josselin after skipping it the last time just like I deliberately skipped La Maison Angelina before a 2nd revisit.   After all quota is limited.   This time I was back with a mission and in fact Josselin was the first creperie I have ever visited in Paris years ago.  Upon this revisit I really want to compare the best creperies I have eaten so far in Hong Kong, France and Australia or elsewhere and settle it once and for all!



Rue du Montparnasse -
Aka the Paris Creperie Street.
Breizh Café is found on the other side of the river. 
Each have their own selling points..

With Dozens of Creperies on this same Street and with some nearby American Food Joints -
Strangely this remains the only Creperie I have visited on this street,  since it is steeped in history.  It’s possible there are equal or better creperies undiscovered here.  Until next time..


Old School -
I love the graphics on the menu here. 

Part of the Menu  -
Feel free to click to enlarge and see if it interests you.
It is kind of old school,  but it is good enough.  Just don’t expect any Aumonieres in there.


I have a thing for Cozy Spaces -
While I don’t mind ultra modern style either.  So what matters the most ends up to be the taste.

Cidre Brut,  Pichet 50CL -  €5,10
There are better Artisanal Cidres on offer here,  but I just so happen to like their Pitcher offering and at such an affordable price.  Let’s test it out.   The more refreshing type ~  8/10



Couple Andouille de Guemene - €9,40
2 separate Layers of buckwheat pancakes are wrapped around this amazing pig tripes sausage!  2 Layered crepes are popular here but so far I have never seen it outside France.  The galette de sarrasin base texture was really great with bites of Buckwheat and aroma, was edge crispy but not tough.  Can’t foresee this getting any better.  Absolutely to die for level.  Amazing.   ~  12/10

Maraichere -  with Spinach, Fried Egg, Lard Bacon, Fromage Cheese, Crème - €9,30
One of the signatures at Josselin.  This was simply sublime once again.  I can’t rave enough about it.  The presentation of the food is not that attractive here,  not exactly neat but this is just so Creperie de Josselin style.   To me,  the taste is more important and the galette crepes here I ate on that night were just simply unbeatable.   Personally I would rate here over >  La Creperie (Hong Kong) >  Breizh Café (Paris).   The latter was the most promising,  but that visit didn’t deliver in taste.  Whereas La Creperie HK is inconsistent but as good as Paris creperies if not better.  Josselin meanwhile looked the most normal and sterile but tasted easily the best!  ~  10/10


Price:   €23.80 All Inclusive
Ease of Access:  5/5  (right outside Edgar Quinet Metro
Food:  ♕♕♕♕♕ 1/2

Opening Hours -
Tues to Sat:  Lunch to Dinner around 11pm
Mon and Sun:  Closed

Address: 67 Rue du Montparnasse  75014 Paris
Ph: 01 43 20 93 50


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