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Eating in Paris – Taishoken ramen (+ bonus: a ramen glossary)

I recently spent a few days in Paris, under the pretext of going to a rock concert with my brother who lives in the Ville Lumiere and refreshing my fleeting French knowledge.  Reality is, I ate my weight in food, went to more food markets and boulangeries than I can remember and generally pigged out. It really is true that “food is the new music“. As Paris is such a cliche tourist destination, I thought I’d rather write about places which are off the “best of” foodie lists, place you’d probably not end up to on a foodie itinerary through Paris. I think they are interesting and noteworthy anyway so here we are. 

Fun fact: I went to Paris, the capital of world gastronomy and…ate (amongst other things) the biggest London food trends this year – burgers and ramen! Please don’t judge me. It is a shameful addiction, really.

taishoken best ramen in paris

After some Internet research and a little chat with my personal food guru Jason of Feasttotheworld, I decided to taste for myself the ramen trend on the other side of the Channel. Apparently, the ramen craze had its peak in Paris well before London, some three years ago. The three most rated ramen places are called Higuma, Sapporo and Naritake but we ended up at a different one called Taishoken- which we picked quite randomly because of its convenience, at the end of a long sightseeing and exploring day on foot.

Taishoken is near the better known Naritake just in the middle of the very touristy but unavoidable areas of L’Opera and the Hotel de Ville. Rue des Petits Champs is a quiet back street where a cluster of Japanese restaurants (mostly serving yakitori and sushi) caters for a mixed crowd of Japanese expats in London, Asian tourists and the occasional visitor- like us. Since it was a holiday, and I am not in Paris everyday, and I had the good company of my brother which I see rarely, I made an exception of my #1 food rule : NO QUEUING. I generally agree with my Grandad who says “queues for food are for wars”.

taishoken rue petits champs paris

At Taishoken, the queue was actually just a couple large groups in front of us, and the turnover seemed quite fast. Also, it was very clear at a glance that this is no trendy haunt – forget lingering on your bowl by sipping cocktails and seat-dancing to music, it’s a Spartan looking ramen bar with a very fast service. Also, maybe because the ramen trend in Paris is old or maybe because the Parisian have more sense than us foolish London bloggers, they seemed quite amused at my camera. So much so, that all my shots are blurry because I was trying to escape the funny looks of the chefs- not bothered, just slightly pitying.

taishoken paris 2The Taishoken staff is friendly and efficient and one chef in particular is so smiley and  upbeat when saying “Arigato!” to customers that you can’t help smile back even after hard day of eating madeleines and baguettes cultural sightseeing. A huge cauldron of the “secret broth” simmers next to the window –as much as you can see most of the ingredients seasoning it, it is actually quite mysterious to me what lies beneath the spring onions, nori, miso and copious amounts of apple and shitake mushrooms. The whole operation runs like clockwork, the menu is fairly small with 5 or six types of ramen to choose from, soya or miso, plus toppings.

Our order ranges from a very delicate seafood ramen to a more substantial pork belly one- ending in my bowl of fiery kimchi noodles in tonkotsu broth. As other Japanese places in the neighbourhood, Taishoken offers  a bargain €12 menu with a side order of gyoza, and as the dumplings look rich and crispy and are made in front of us, we go for it.

The bowls are big, piping hot and filled with just the right broth/noodles ratio (although apparently you can ask for more broth or water to dilute the soup if you deem it too salty). Toppings are plentiful;  we all go for the extra nitamago egg, which is nothing special, but the cha siu pork slices and the kimchi are excellent. Also, there is no trace of those pesky beansprouts which often ruin my ramen bowls in London.

taishoken best ramen paris

What can I say? In case you still had doubts, I LOVE ramen. I heart it so much I think right now is my favourite food in the world. Is what I would have on my deathbed, except that I don’t like eating in bed so that would be complicated. Well, you get the gist. And Taishoken makes very good ramen. Thoroughly different from its London version, this ramen is a lot less “in your face”, not over the top, tasty in a quiet way but still very filling and excellent value for money (even more so in expensive Paris!). The space is spartan, efficient, touch and go- it has no ambition to be a night out, so it’s a wholly different proposition from the buzzing, trendy ramen joints in London.

Overall, I recommend Taishoken on your next visit to Paris if you need a break from butter and baguettes and don’t want to queue at the famous places for  your fix of pork broth and chilli, like me.

In the next post, we’re measuring up Paris vs London on another big  food trend- burgers…

 

Want to read more about ramen?

On my quest for the best ramen in London I have visited again and again the pillars of the London ramen renaissance (Shoryu Ramen, Bone Daddies and Tonkotsu) as well as lesser known places like Cocoro and Nagomi, and went so far as to try the Yo!Sushi ramen – did it so you don’t have to. Whilst I still don’t have a final verdict, I am much looking forward to the opening of Nanban London from chef Tim Anderson which is apparently going to feature ramen as well.

BONUS:  from what little I know having never been to Japan myself, but having eaten A LOT of ramen recently, ramen is to Japanese cuisine what pasta is to Italian. Not a dish, but a staple that has as many variations as there are towns, families and restaurants.  By the way, you are a ramen-addict like me, you will find this ramen glossary quite fascinating.

 

Summary
Reviewer
Serena Mariani
Review Date
Reviewed Item
Taishoken Restaurant Paris
Author Rating
4
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2 Comments

  1. mmmmm…. I will HAVE to try that the next time I get to Paris. Looks delicious!!! :) Last time I was in Paris, I had really good pho!

    • Yes, I definitely recommend it- very different from the “London ramen”. I am intrigued now, do you remember where you had your pho in Paris?

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