I am over my head in food photos and blog posts! there are about thirty coming up (and I’m still eating, obviously, and so I’m starting to despair of when I will lament a lack of things to post) so I hope you’re still reading and enjoying them. the photos in this one were taken under dismal lighting, I apologize.
pretty decent vietnamese food near the tolbiac metro station in paris. we’ve been coming to this vietnamese restaurant on every trip in paris, just as we go to leon du bruxelles, ever since my father got a heads-up on this tiny place serving steaming bowls of beef pho in the 13th arrondissement.
this was five or six years ago, when pho 14 still felt like a secret shared only by the locals – it felt family run and though you queued up a while to get a table in this tiny establishment, it was quaint and a respite from the never-ending crowds in paris. it’s a completely different story now – this secret has now leaked out (probably through the proliferation of blogs such as my own), the place is packed to the rafters with the queues extending on the pavement past the next-door restaurant, and service is a little more harried (though very efficient).
we were pretty lucky and only had to wait about ten minutes to get a table – though we saw the queue grow quickly after we were seated. we got three laminated and now rather tatty menus with photos and english descriptions – and quickly ordered.
the steaming bowls of pho, which come in regular or large sizes, were really good on a surprisingly cold parisian night – you have a choice of rare or well-done beef, as well as an assortment with bouncy beef balls and types of tripe. I recommend getting the rare beef, which cook pink in the hot broth, as well as the meatballs which are bouncy and very good. I don’t much appreciate tripe, but my parents were happy with the mixed bowl.
beyond these, we got a couple of starters to share: essentially plates of steamed rice rolls with different toppings such as ham and a fried patty of doughy battered prawn, as well as fried spring rolls. the rolls were good and crisp and went down very quickly; the rice rolls were chewy and sticky and very asian – I mean this in the best possible way but if you’re not familiar with the cuisine, you ought to start with a plate to share because this isn’t a texture found in western dining. the garnishes and accompanying sweet chili dipping sauce were good, and if you haven’t had vietnamese food before, know that ham refers more to a sliced meat product with the texture of luncheon meat, rather than the sort that you get in the UK.
it was still a very good meal, despite the fact that the atmosphere is completely different now. they are much faster at clearing your plates – and making you feel like you ought to leave – and the restaurant appears to operate under organised chaos, but that doesn’t detract from the fact that this place serves really decent food and deserves its long queues.