Around Paris: 13th: Le Bambou

17 08 2010

Since moving to France, Nick and I have been having lots of fun with language.  We blatantly use and abuse franglais, translating and mistranslating with abandon.  One such misuse, which gets more play than one might expect, is bambooing.  (You see, because the French word for shampoo is shampooing, any word that ends in -oo now gets an -ooing.  It’s fun!  Ok, we’re huge dorks.  I don’t even know why I’m explaining this.  Now I’ve gone and started off with a huge digression.  It’s probably only going downhill from here.)

Le Bambou(ing) at night

So we headed down to the 13th for some Asian grub last weekend.  We really wanted to try Sukhothai, but alas, it was closed for congé annuel.  Fortunately, I had a backup, which I had telephoned in advance: Le Bambou.  Or as it immediately became known to Nick and me, Le Bambooing.  It’s a well-known and well-reviewed spot for casual Vietnamese cuisine.  When we arrived (following a rain-soaked Vélib’ ride from the Place d’Italie), there appeared to be a line out the door, but poking my head in the door and inquiring whether they had room for two proved to be beneficial – we were seated right away.

Of course, moments later we were unceremoniously asked to move, in order to make room for a four-top.  The French woman seated next to me asked if it was our first time there.  When I replied in the affirmative, she told me with a smile, “On vient pour ça, aussi.” (You come here for that, too.)  Which is to say, at Le Bambou, you are treated like family, in the most casual sense.  They don’t hesitate to make you switch seats or hustle you off your table to make room for more customers.  Elegant and refined it is not.  What it is, though, is speedy and tasty.

Plateau frit at Le Bambou

We started off with the fried assortment: four nems, four fried shrimp, and four wonton-like objects.  It was probably too much for two, but we were hungry, and it seemed like a good idea at the time.  My favorite were the fried shrimp, which will come as no surprise to my parents, who eventually had to stop ordering them when we went for Chinese food when I was a kid so I would eat something else.  Nick thought the nems were something special, and I agree that they were quite good, though I’m not sure they’re any better than those at Dong Huong, over in our neck of the woods.

Bo Bun at Le Bambou

Despite the rainy, pho-appropriate weather, I had to try the bo bun.  The classic Vietnamese dish of saucy beef with crunchy peanuts and vegetables over thin rice noodles has become one of my favorite foods.  And Le Bambou’s version was excellent.  The beef was bite-sized and tender, the noodles were abundant, and the vinegary sauce brought it all together beautifully.  Nearly every bite had a different taste sensation, depending on which elements made it into my chopsticks.  It was so flavorful that I wished I hadn’t made such a pig of myself on the appetizers, because in the end I couldn’t finish it.  (Luckily, the quick service has no qualms about taking food away.)

Beef and brisket pho at Le Bambou

Nick chose a bowl of pho with well-done beef and brisket (it was the brisket that got him) from the long list of soup options.  The broth was delicious, but the meat left something to be desired.  The pieces of beef and brisket were indistinguishable from each other (if , in fact, there were even two different cuts), and many had large, unappetizing hunks of fat attached.  Some people dig that, but I’m not one of them.

We had some trouble with the wine, as well.  We ordered a bottle of rosé along with our meal, but when our appetizer plate was half-eaten and we still hadn’t received it, we got worried.  We managed to flag down a waiter and reminded him about the wine.  Still nothing.  Thirsty, and concerned that we would be forced to chug the last of our wine if we finished eating before the bottle was done, we were trying to cancel it and ask for some water when yet another waiter insisted he would bring it.  They did apologize for the confusion, which frankly, surprised me a little.  But the good news was that the restaurant seemed to be clearing out, the door no longer filled with hungry potential diners eyeing tables.  So we got to linger over the last of our wine.

While I definitely enjoyed my meal at Le Bambou (Bambooing! Bambooing!), I am unconvinced that it was worth traveling all the way across town.  If you’re on the Left Bank and looking for Vietnamese, by all means go there, but if you’re closer to Belleville, don’t fret.  The Vietnamese up there is just as good.

 On this day in 2009: Tea for Two Tarts, the Second (one of the more stunning desserts I’ve made at home)

Originally published on Croque-Camille.




12 responses

17 08 2010

Haha, after reading the 1st two sentences, I also thought of “shampooing” when I saw the work “bambooing.” I was pleased when I read the next sentence and saw that you made the same connection.

17 08 2010

Might not be worth traveling across Paris for but the plates of food certainly would bring me in if I lived in the area. We face the dilemma about how to deal with guests who stay at their table the entire evening at our little bistro when we have guests with reservations standing at the door waiting to be seated. Unfortunately, I have never been able to muster up the ability to ask guests to leave.

17 08 2010

I love Bambou — the food and the prices are both great. I like to go for lunch and then shop afterwards at Tang Freres. Now that’s a two-fer.

17 08 2010
hungry dog

Sounds like a fun dinner. And I can relate to dorking out with your husband with inside jokes…isn’t that the point of marriage?

As always with your blog, reading the post, I think, “Too bad we don’t live in the same city–we would be fast friends.”

18 08 2010

You do make that bo bun sound good… I might have to pass up my own pho love next time I head to a vietnamese restaurant! But really, anything with nuoc cham tastes awesome… (How’s about you make nuoc cham ice cream? DO IT.)

18 08 2010

Alexander – It’s like we’re brother and sister or something. 😉

Michel – I’m sure that can be tough. I guess that’s where a no reservation policy comes in handy…

Anne – I can’t believe I’ve still never been to the Tang Freres down there. It was just so easy with Paris Store a couple blocks away. 🙂

hungry dog – I’m pretty sure it is. And maybe one day we will be in the same city. I like to think I have friends waiting for me wherever I might go next.

Hannah – I’ll make it if you’ll eat it.

19 08 2010

You know I would 😀 I trust you, totally.

19 08 2010
Janet Skeslien Charles

I learned about your website from Heather Stimmler-Hall and absolutely love it! I’m taking my husband to Le Bambou. Many thanks for the suggestion.

20 08 2010
Tammy McLeod

Funny about the wordplay with shampoo and bamboo and … Living here in the Southwest, we tend to do similar things with our Spanglish. Glad the restaurant was ok too.

20 08 2010

Hannah – I must admit, the temptation to abuse that trust is mighty… 😉

Janet – You’re very welcome!

Tammy – Spanglish, Franglais, it’s all fun!

22 08 2010

I’m a HUGE Dong Huong fan, but I now live at the other end of the city (Porte de Versailles), so I might be making the trip to the 13th to check it out…

23 08 2010

emiglia – Do, it’s definitely on par with Dong Huong.

%d bloggers like this: