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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Three Baguettes
   
Pho Mui
97, avenue d’Ivry
01.45.83.70.68
M° Tolbiac

 
Euro - 8 or less
For a long time, Pho Mui was our go-to place whenever the desire for a delicious bowl of pho arose.  It also figures in many fond memories of prior visits to this wonderful city.  The first time Riot’s dad came to visit, father and son met up for lunch here, over 5,500 miles away from where both were living at the time.  The first time Nez came to Paris, Riot took her here for a lunch away from all of that steak frites.  When our friend Bob was here last October, Riot took him here and ran into Riot’s dad who picked up the bill for both tables.  It is believed that Nez’s mom might have had her first bowl of pho, ever, here as well.  Once, Riot was even drafted into interpreting for an English-speaking patron who, understandably, could not tell the difference between all the different bowls of pho on the Vietnamese/French menu.
 
 
 
 
 
  A pho treat and feast:  The Pho Mui dac biet (8€) packs a punch that is sure to make you full.
 
 

 
 
 
We had even gotten accustomed to the setting; the glassed-in pho station out in the dining room where our bowls of pho were assembled felt like our apartment’s very own kitchen.  (And, they are both equally tiny.)  Our usual routine:  banh cuon nhan thit (6.50€) to start, a pho tai “lon” (8€) for Riot and a pho tai “nho” (7.50€) for Nez, and a glass of suong sa hat luu (3.50€) for each.  While the difference in prices between the two bowl sizes of pho was a mere 50 centimes, Nez liked not having to stare at a large bowl and feeling like she had to finish it.  The silky soft rice sheets of our favorite appetizer gently engulfed a smattering of ground meat and mushroom and became complete when consumed with the accompanying slices of gio (variously referred to as Vietnamese ham or sausage) and fish sauce.  (Most of the time, Riot found himself eating most of the plate and he did not mind.)  We think they serve the best version of this here.  The pho was similarly solid with a rich, tasty broth.
 
 
 
 
 
  But if you still think you’re hungry:  The banh cuon nhan thit (6.50€) is one of the best starter in the 13th.
 
 

 
 
 
With that kind of intimate association, it was hard to turn our backs when we subsequently discovered Le Bambou and (re)discovered Pho 14, both located close by and both serving – to be completely fair – better bowls of pho.  We have not been back but we take comfort in knowing that taste can be very subjective when it comes to something seemingly so simple and yet complex like pho.  For one, Riot and his parents have not been able to agree on the “best” pho ever since he left for college, and between his parents and their siblings in Southern California, there has not been any agreement on exactly the same subject in decades.
 
 
 
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