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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15, avenue de Choisy
M° Porte de Choisy

Euro - 8 or less
Even on his first trip to Paris, shortly after 1998 rolled around, Riot was in search of Vietnamese food.  Good Vietnamese was, of course, always preferable but after the experience of a terrible bowl of pho in London’s Chinatown the week before, any Vietnamese was desirable at that point.  While purchasing some Chanel eau de parfum for his mom and sister at a now-closed boutique off rue de Rivoli near the Louvre, Riot noticed that the salesperson had a Vietnamese name.  He seized upon that sole fact and begged her for directions to a place for pho.  She wrote down the métro stop:  Porte de Choisy.

Even on that first venture into the Chinatown of Paris, the neon lights of Tricotin (both Nos. 1 and 2, which are inexplicably situated right next to one another) shone as bright as they do today, like sirens drawing in the lost and hungry tourists.  Riot happily obliged and was treated to the first good Asian food on this side of the Atlantic.
  Gotta have something deep-fried along with artery-clogging mayo-based sauce:  Stuffed with shrimp paste, the raviolis de crevettes frits à la mayonnaise delights the guilty conscience.

Fast-forward a decade and Riot once more found himself at Tricotin, this time with Nez and in search of a dim sum counterpart to our reliable source in Belleville.  We were happy we decided to branch out.  In this rediscovery, we found a place that offers an extensive array of good food at a surprisingly good price.  From the menu we ticked off the following for the impatient waiter:  raviolis aux crevettes “ha-kao” (3.80€), bouchées aux crevettes “siu-mai” (3.80€), raviolis de crevettes frits à la mayonnaise (4.50€), and crêpe de riz au boeuf à la sauce de soja (3.70€).  The first two types of dumplings were text-booked and fresh off the steamer.  The crunchy, deep-fried wanton engulfed a soft interior of moist shrimp paste, both of which tasted mightily good with a healthy dab of the guilt-ridden mayonnaise dipping sauce.  Finally, the soft, steamy rice rolls seemed to melt when squeezed between one’s tongue and upper palate.  Riot could not help but pigged out some more with an extra order from the soup section:  soupe de nouilles “Phnom Penh” (5€).  The broth was very tasty.
  A different texture, something soft and alluring:  The crêpe de riz au boeuf à la sauce de soja where the slightly sweet sauce brings out the subtlety of the dish.
  Dim sum 101, part une:  Officially called raviolis aux crevettes in the menu, it is known the world over as simply “ha-kao.”
We wrapped the affair up with desserts, a type of chè that is called ruommit (3.20€) here.  This variation came with green jelly, jack fruit, and tapioca-covered pomegranate seeds, all bound together in a delicious coconut milk concoction.  As we reached the bottom of our glasses, Nez commented:  “We could really save money by eating this kind of Asian food everyday.”  Riot nodded in agreement.  She continued:  “Of course, I’ll say no when you propose it but I’ll end up liking it.”  Riot smiled agreeingly.  We did not end up eating Asian everyday but we do come back here now and again just to have the waiter rush us to get our order, to sometimes experience bad service, but always to have good, solid Asian food.
  Dim sum 101, part deux:  “Siu-mai” sounds so much better than a dollop of shrimp, or in French, bouchées aux crevettes.
  Did not make the personal head shots are:  (From left to right) raviolis de civette aux crevettes (chive & shrimp) (3.60€); brioches au porc laqué (BBQ pork buns) (3.60€); and riz gluant farci au porc dans une feuille de lotus (sticky rice with pork) (4.50€).
  A meal, even a Chinese one, would not be a meal without the obligatory dessert:  Sometimes the waiter brings our roummit right away, sometimes he refuses to bring it until the end of the meal.
  When the eyes are still hungry:  The soupe de nouilles “Phnom Penh” (5€) to go with all that dim sum.
  Something entirely un-dim summy:  The nouilles frites sautées au boeuf et aux légumes (6.80€) with a bit too much vegetable for Riot.
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