Friday, May 10, 2013

France - Japan Town in Paris

While in Paris, I met my online friend who was travelling there for a few days. Thanks to that, I discovered the "Japan Town" of Paris. I don't know if this area is officially a Japan Town, but the streets around this area are filled with Japanese restaurants, shops, hair dressers and even a convenience store. There is also a supermarket that sells mostly Japanese and Korean foods.

Take the Metro on Line number 14 and stop at the station called Pyramides. Take the left staircase of exit number 1, and once you're up, turn back. You'll see a Japanese shop that sells clothes for puppies (if I'm not wrong it's called Wan Wan). Walk straight until you see a diagonal sharp turn to the left called Rue St Anne. The street is a bit small, but you will not be disappointed.

As I walked through Rue St Anne, I saw several ramen shops, and one of them is called Sapporo Ramen 2 (サッポロ ラーメン2)as you see in the picture. A while ago I tried to look up for restaurant recommendations in a Japanese website called OvniNavi. The Japanese are normally very passionate about foods, so I trust their reviews. And they probably have more similar taste buds as mine. 

First, I tried the miso ramen at Sapporo 2. 

Since I was alone, I sat at the bar just in front of where they prepare the noodles. I had expected the restaurant workers to be Japanese, but I think all of them were Chinese. They were speaking Mandarin and another Chinese dialect I was not sure which one it was. I was a little disappointed because I was eager to practice speaking Japanese again. But again, I came here for food.

The ramen looked delicious, although its toppings are a little bit simple: chashu (pork belly slices), bamboo shoots and beansprouts. I wanted some ajitsuke tamago (soft boiled egg braised in soy sauce) but none of the menu offers those eggs. The portion was a little big, but it is the typical portion size for ramen.

And actually... 

I had a very huge appetite on that day. I ordered a lunch set, which I believe was around 14 euros. I get one bowl of miso ramen with chashu, and a mini katsudon

The katsudon (deep fried breaded chicken) was not very appetizing, and it was a little bit too salty for me. I couldn't finish the rice. Well, part of it was because I was on the verge of food coma after a big bowl of chashu ramen.

After a huge meal, I decided to walk further along Rue St Anne and found a convenience store called Juji-Ya (十時や).

Here, the workers speak Japanese ^_^

You can buy bento boxes, onigiri (a little too expensive: 2.30 euros each!) and Japanese food products. This shop is not the most complete shop you can find, but they sell interesting ingredients that are not commonly found in Asian shops in China Town. By the way, China Town in Paris is located in Porte de Choisy. I normally take the tram from Cite Universitaire metro station towards the direction of Porte de Vincennes, and it's only about 15 minutes by tram.

You can find other restaurants along the Rue St Anne including sushi, okonomiyaki and even takoyaki. By the way, when I say sushi, it doesn't mean only raw salmon and raw tuna. Sushi shops are everywhere, but most of them don't have other nice fish cuts like toro, tai and hamachi. I don't blame them because we're in Europe and from my understanding, my non-Asian friends refer to sushi as anything with raw salmon or raw tuna. No other options. Not even ikura or unagi. It's probably the same for me: there are many types of sausages, but sausages are just... sausages.

After walking through Rue St Anne from one end to another, I decided to make little detours. If you take left or right turns along Rue St Anne, you will still find plenty of Japanese shops and restaurants. What's crazy was that I found BOOK-OFF, a second-hand book store that is famous in Japan.

There are two BOOK-OFF shops there. One is dedicated for Western books (mainly French; I hardly saw any books in English), and the other one is dedicated for Japanese books and products like CDs, DVDs, and game consoles.

What's cool about BOOK-OFF is that the price for second hand books are cheap. Here, they sell them for 2 euros, which is DIRT CHEAP, taking into account that things in Paris are generally pretty expensive.

For those who are excited about manga, there are plenty of those translated in French.

If I were to stay in France for more than a year, I will definitely learn French from reading manga :P

Oh, and (not too) surprisingly, Rose of Versailles (VerBara) series is famous in France.

Oh, and I tried looking for a book to practice Japanese. I found them. Quite pricey (>20 euros)...

But the main problem is that the explanations are in French. Which makes them pretty much useless to me. Even on this book, I can understand all things written in Japanese but absolutely nothing in French.

Aside fromt the second hand books, BOOK-OFF also sells up-to-date books and DVDs.

My exploration around Japan Town ended by drinking a glass of bubble green tea latte at Zen Zoo.

I'm almost 100% sure that the owners are Taiwanese who can speak Japanese. I would say this place has the best bubble tea in Europe that I tried so far: perfect chewiness and sweetness of the tapioca pearl, good tea and reasonable price.


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