vendredi 26 novembre 2010

First Snowflakes of the Season in Paris...Cambodian Food at the Japanese Quartier of Paris



While the Americans were celebrating Thanksgiving Day, an important holiday for them, there was nothing in Paris to remind one that such an important holiday of eating and celebrating and family union and shopping was happening across the pond. Then again, most americans won't be even remotely interested or aware of Bastille Day and one such day I happened to be at South Beach and there were no tricolor flying about or champagne corks popping!
Today it was very cold, 0 C and the snow flakes were coming down gently. I was walking along the Quartier Opera, the imposing building of the opera looking down on the avenue and off the avenue near the Metro station Les Quatres Temps is avenue St anne, where one is transported into a street in Japan. Almost all the establishments are Japanese of wannabee Japanese (usually new immigrant chinese or Koreans). All over the world there has been a cry about the mushrooming of Sushi places which disguise themselves as Japanese Restaurants. The ones on this street reminded me of the many small restos i have eaten in Toyama or Takaoka or even remoter villages in Honshu or Hokkaido.
I enjoyed the ambience, went into the marche which was set up as a 7-11 in Japan and the clienele and staff were japanese.
But my destination today was nothing to do with Japan, I was heading to a Cambodian Restaurant in the very same street. When I arrived at 2 30, there were just a few people in the restaurant finishing up their lunch. There were two people and I am sure one of them is the owner, i didnt see a cook unless the two women acted as cooks in between taking orders and mainting order. They had lunch set menus or various dishes one can order up. By looking at the menu one can easily mistake it for a Vietnamese restaurant, I can see why, any restaurant even if it is in Paris, if it just offers Cambodian food, may not survive for too long, so the Lao or Cambodian restaurants offer plenty of Vietnamese cuisine. Today was the first time I saw Pho Phnom Penh, made with Shrimp or Fish and there were some genuine cambodian dishes like the fish soup, amok etc.
I liked the atmosphere, no sales pressure but everything was flowing smoothly along. The older woman, who looked chinese and the other women also looked more chinese than Khmer, were busy attending to the coterie of clients now finishing their lunch. I wanted to eat Amok Fish in Coconut Sauce and in banana leaves with rice. No pressure to buy high priced carbonated water or green tea but they are available. I ate slowly, I saw the workers/owners also eating, a Pho each, or fish soup I couldnt tell. When I was paying the bill, I asked in French, are you Cambodian. Yes and where are you from? Australia, said I. she lights up, many many cambodians go there, she said in her broken english. she was from Kip on the south coast and didnt want to ask questions to bring up bad memories. Last year I went back and the roads and everything is coming back to normal she said.
I thought about my friends in Siem Reap and Phnom Penh... and secretly wished I could return to my brother, Ko Maung Maung's hotel and restaurant, The Mandalay Inn in Siem Reap... When I said good bye to him in October 2008, I told him to guard a bottle of Dom Perignon Champagne that Qantas had given me for something or other on my flight over from USA to Australia before traveling on to Malaysia and Cambodia..
The Dom Perignon is still unclaimed....ah well..