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
   
Pho 14
129, avenue de Choisy
01.45.83.61.15
M° Tolbiac

 
Euro - 8 or less
At some point early on in his obsession with Paris, somebody told Riot that good pho could be found at this restaurant in the 13th.  So, knowing what little he knew then, he set out to check on the tip, taking the métro to the usual stop, Porte de Choisy, and walking about 1 km to Pho 14.  There is a vague memory of the pho being OK but there is a much stronger one of how inaccessible it was.  It took Riot’s dad to show him one day, on a subsequent trip, that Pho 14 was actually only 200 m from the Tolbiac station – 3 stops before Porte de Choisy.  Riot had been going to almost the very end of the line and then retracing his steps back here.  Perhaps that unfairly affected his opinion of the food.

Fast forward to several trips later and Riot found himself back here again, this time accompanied by Nez.  It was a cold evening so all of the outside tables sat empty; the heated interior, however, was packed to the brim.  It was dinnertime and we considered ourselves fortunate to score a table in the back.  The no-frill service was super efficient and no sooner had our waiter taken our orders than two bowl of steamy pho arrived tableside.  Nez got her usual bare-bone pho tai (6.30€, small) while the bigger-appetite Riot went with the spéciale version (7€, large).  Similar to Pho Mui, the serving of herbal accoutrements here was very generous.  We gleefully tore off the basil leaves from the stems, broke the culantro (no, not misspelled, see here) into bite-size chunks, and scooped huge globs of vinegared onion slices to our bowl.  They proved to be a winning combination with the incredibly fresh broth.  We could taste all of the ingredients in the soup as we hungrily gobbled everything up.
 
 
 
 
 
  The grandaddy of them all:  The spéciale (7€) is all you need to get your pho fix in Paris.
 
 

 
 
 
We balanced out the yin of the pho with the yang of the che, a version of the classic Vietnamese dessert, suong sa hat luu, that is called trois couleurs (3.50€) here.  Che is so versatile that it is just about the only kind of dessert that could be had before, during, and after any course.  We like getting ours at the beginning; Nez eats her along the way while Riot lets it sit until the very end.

With Pho 14, we think we’ve found our new favorite place (sorry, Pho Mui) to get these incomparable bowls, especially while it is freezing out.  Riot is sorry he ever thought otherwise.
 
 
 
 
 
  Absolute essentials:  You ought to cram as much of these items as you can in your pho but save some hoisin sauce for dipping your slices of beef and beef balls.
 
 

 
 
 
 
 
 
  Perhaps we should stick with the soup:  An OK starter in the form of banh tom (5.50€), or fried shrimp patties.
 
 
 
 
 
  You’ve got to indulge the sweet tooth:  The dessert aux trois couleurs (3.50€) is an essential accompaniment throughout the meal.
 
 
 
 
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