Clarence in Paris: Rouammit and Huong Lan
So, I’ll admit, being contacted by luckygal90 with a cease-and-desist of sorts was a minor thrill. I’d liken it to the first time that I prank called someone and they *69ed me. I doubt that this will actually turn into anything, as I’m sure she has long since forgotten about my six readers and me. She’s probably way too amped about the fact that her video has indeed gone viral, garnering some thirty thousand hits since I originally wrote about it yesterday. I’m pretty jealous. What are you saying internets? That my posts about falafel, John Mayer, and my sex dreams about dead modernists aren’t worth 32,000 hits? Interestingly enough, yesterday was a record-topping day for me in terms of web traffic. Unfortunately, most of those hits came from people googling “luckygal90,” which is kinda like the universe punching me in the teeth for being too smug.
Anyway, now that I’ve dipped one toe in the sludgebucket that is political blogging I’m going to quickly remove it and begin writing about food again. I started out trying to express my genuine optimism that we will pull through this partisan nightmare and ended up bullying a 13-year-old girl. I don’t have the stomach for it. While I’ll hang on to a conflict like a dog worrying a dead animal, I’m not really one for actual confrontation. I’m much more into complacently talking about people behind their backs.
Also, there’s this:
That’s right people. It’s spring in Paris. While other cities may indeed try to make a case for their singular awesomeness during other seasons (I remember New York in the fall to be quite lovely, and Denver winters are dreamy bar none), Paris in the springtime is pretty unfuckwithable. I hear people have even written songs about it. Suddenly everyone in this city is beautiful and smiling and sitting in a sunny park. Lovers are canoodling by the Seine, children are playing, women are wearing beautiful beige trenchcoats and flowery scarves, and there are tulips and green plums in the market. I’m not going to keep antagonizing a child living somewhere in rural America because, well, there’s such nicer things to do right now. Shoulda come at me in January, kiddo.
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Rouammit and Huong Lan
103 avenue d’Ivry, 75013 Paris
So I’ve been meaning to write about this for a while:
Yes, that’s duck. Perfect, tender, lacquered duck in a spicy broth with braised bok choy, red chiles, and crispy deep-fried mint leaves. I’ve been fantasizing about it since I didn’t order it two weeks ago when the genetically over-endowed S & H introduced us to Rouammit and Huong Lan—a yummy pair of Laotian restaurants in the 13th. My buddy from California, BC (sorry, dude, B is taken), was staying with me for a few days and we puzzled over the idea of Laotian food for quite a while. After a Wikipedia search, we settled on the idea that it was probably like Thai. And it is, if you associate Thai with flavors like chile, peanuts, lemongrass, fish sauce, coconut milk, and green garlic. But where many of the Thai restaurants in Paris tend to be kinda swish, the Laotian food here is hearty, cheap, and unfussy. Rouammit and Huong Lan are just that perfect combination.
On my first visit, I ordered the first thing on the menu – Khao Pun Nam Pa, a soup of rice noodles in a fish and coconut milk broth. It’s served with a plate of vegetables that you dunk in the spicy, salty, creamy soup, and their crunchiness nicely offsets the tender succulent fish chunks. It’s really good, and would be amazing if you were sick. But unfortunately I was sitting across from S, the veteran who wisely ordered the Pet Yang Lad Prik (pictured above). I spent most of the meal being overcome with envy. I hate it when I don’t order the best thing. You see, if I was forced to list the top ten things that I love about France, this country’s rabid consumption of duck and rabbit might find its way to the top of the list. Duck, which you rarely see outside of lousy Chinese restaurants and high-end menus in the United States, is ubiquitous here, and usually much better. The duck at Rouammit and Huong Lan is exceptionally delicious and works perfectly in tandem with their spicy sauces. BC sampled their duck with coconut red curry, called Kheng Phed Pet and it was really lovely. But it was S’s lacquered duck with bok choy that I really burned for.
[Autobiographical aside: I was once told by an ex-boyfriend (after much introspection) that the animal I most resembled in character was a duck. I was totally crushed, as I was hoping for a bit more glamorous spirit animal. In retrospect, this game was pretty skewed towards his own egotistical gratification. When I asked what his spirit animal was, he responded that he was “a wolf or maybe a shark.” The “lone wolf” reference certainly wasn’t lost on me, but I wasn’t sure about how the shark might fit in to the veiled conversation we were obviously having about his fear of commitment. Then I remembered that if sharks if stop swimming for even an instant, they die. Man, can I pick ‘em or what? Anyway, apparently I’m fond of eating my spirit animal. I don’t really remember that part of Totem and Taboo.]
So last night, under the auspices of “blog research,” I drug poor M back to Rouammit and Huong Lan. I pretended to let her look at the menu, but she never had a chance. I was bound and determined to have that duck and to also sample the rave-worthy Phad Thai. I think she knew that she was merely a cog in the vast machine of my scheme. She’s an excellent sport (and perhaps this blog’s biggest fan), so she let me have what I wanted. It was delicious. Perhaps best of all, the bill was yet again incredibly reasonable. Virtually none of the plates are more than 10 euro, making some experimentation practically a necessity. I saw a heavenly-looking salad pass our table, which I think suspect is the Lap Neua, a spicy concoction of cold veggies, tripe, and beef. I also lusted after passing plates of Khao Nom Kroc, artfully arranged shrimp dumplings, and chili-oil spiked mango slices (didn’t write down the name of those). Let’s just say I’ll be going back.
Details: It’s cheap, delicious, and the staff is unflaggingly friendly. It’s also crazy-popular. Get there any later than 7 p.m. for dinner and expect a serious wait time in the street. Probably not best for bigger parties, though we managed to get a table for six by arriving early. Open 12-3 p.m. for lunch and 7-11 p.m. for dinner Tuesday through Friday, 12-4 p.m. on Saturday and Sunday. Closed Mondays.