When we talk about the 13th, we are using the shorthand for the Chinatown of Paris (which itself is a bit of a misnomer because almost every Asian ethnicity is represented here).  Specifically, we are referring to the abundance of food choices in this arrondissement, most of which could be had for a real bargain when compared with the prices in the central part of town.  More than just cost, however, one can find here the authenticity that is often lacking elsewhere.  While some people may not think of eating anything but “French” food when they visit, by doing so, they would be mistaken and selling themselves short of the multicultural experience that is this modern-day capital.

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Four Baguettes
143-145, rue Léon Maurice Nordman
M° Glacière

Euro - 9 to 16
It started with the same old question asked aloud, “What do you want to eat tonight?”  Who said it this time?  It could have been either one of us.  Tonight, whoever answered decided to say something offbeat, something out of left field.  “Ethiopian?”  A few strokes on the keyboard and voilà, Google said that there was in fact such a thing in Paris.  We grabbed our coats and headed for the door.

We took line 4 to Montparnasse, then line 6 to Glacière.  In our little minds, we didn’t know this part of Paris existed.  In our unworldliness, we were surprised that it was in the 13th arrondissement.  (Look at the introductory paragraph way up top to see what the 13th stands for in our worldview of Paris.)  On the way out of the station, we passed by an on-the-spot ticket check and was reminded that such a thing happened though never in Saint-Germain-des-Près (though plenty of turnstile jumpers performed their feat there or exit through there).  Turning off a large boulevard onto two consecutive smaller residential streets, we would have thought we were lost had we not taken the rare precaution of writing down the address.
  A bread and an eating utensil:  Neat rolls of injera – a spongy, sour flatbread – that we used to soak up all the delicious food.

The restaurant itself had the feel of a downtown place serving lunch to the masses of office workers in the States; from both the outside and inside, it bore no signs of being in Paris.  The sole waitress approached us tentatively as we entered and asked whether we had a reservation.  We said no and looked around to count just two occupied tables out of a dozen.  The extensive menu spelled out the dishes in Ethiopian, which we did not understand, and French, which we understood just a bit more.  All the same because the sense of so many unknowns was in fact tantalizing.

Riot wanted to order the keutfo (15€), some sort of ground meat with spices that was served “crue.”  We had seen this term enough time at sushi restaurants before to know its meaning.  But the waitress was hesitant.  She asked if this was our first time with Ethiopian cuisine (we said yes here in Paris but we had had it before elsewhere; she just heard, “yes”) and she suggested that Riot get something else instead.  Thwarted by her altruism, Riot selected the bere teubs (15€), minced beef sauté with spices.  The waitress was pleased with that “safe” choice.  She moved onto Nez:  beyayenetou “Entoto” (16€), a house specialty, judging by the inclusion of the restaurant’s name in the title.
  All that we ordered:  The bere teubs (15€) on a skillet and the rest of the beyayenetou “Entoto” (16€) sampler plate.

When it came to how to eat, she gave us a brief explanation and we listened politely though we couldn’t wait to get our hands dirty.  Setting aside the provided silverware (this being a country where hamburgers are sometimes eaten with forks and knives after all), we worked the various meats and vegetables into small strips of injera flatbread.  Riot’s sautéed beef dish nicely retained its desired moisture and was rich in flavor.  Nez’s platter comprised of one spicy and one non-spicy minced beef ragout along with five samplings of vegetables we could not tell and the menu did not identify (just les cinq légumes).  However, we believe they included split peas, lentils, and potatoes.  Perhaps sensing that we were not entirely novices, the kind waitress returned moments later with a small, complimentary plate of the keutfo for us to try.  The rare beef dish tasted good, like the Horn of Africa cousin of the French’s steak tartare but with more added flavors.

All in all, our trek here was a nice change from everything that we had been eating, again and again, in our time here.  This competent take on Ethiopian cuisine is surely worth a trip out to this part of town for the adventurous and restless souls.  We took the scenic route home, passing by a pitch-black Jardin du Luxembourg.
  The server was not sure we could handle this:  After discouraging us from ordering it, she brought us a sample of the keutfo (15€), which is a cousin of the French steak tartare.
  And of course, dessert:  The sorbets exotiques (5.30€) and special Ethiopian coffee.
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