Culinary experiences are high on my list when I travel. The only eateries I disdain are chains. Unusual foods, new restaurants, out-of-the-way places that only locals go, famous places that I’ve read about- and salivated over – for years, tiny little spots that offer perfect renditions of traditional ethnic dishes – bring ‘em all on!
So many taste experiences, so little time…
So when I get a recommendation from someone on my internal Trusted Buds List (buds as in ’taste buds’ as well as the traditional sense of ‘buddy’, a person who would never steer you wrong), I try hard to make it happen.
That’s how I had the delightful experience of dining at tiny and wonderful Comptoir Vietnam in Paris last month. A Glover Gardens blog friend who has traveled the world a time or two (or three) recommended it on one of my previous Paris posts, just as I was heading out to a workshop there with several colleagues. He had found Comptoir Vietnam by accident years earlier while taking a walk in the City of Lights. He loved it. He went back. He took loved ones there on later trips. Most importantly (to me), he paid it forward by telling me about it. And now I’m telling you.
You need to know about Comptoir Vietnam. It’s that good.
My colleagues are game for anything, and on the night before our return to Houston, they accompanied me on the very crowded, fairly hot, hour-long Metro ride during rush hour to get to this stellar little place. We weren’t sorry! It was everything we expected, and more.
I’ll set the stage for you. It was overcast and rainy, as Paris often is. (How is it that overcast and rainy in Paris doesn’t ruin the mood, it adds to it??) The Metro experience was a little different than usual as we got close to our stop, with elevated, above-ground tracks that provided a great view of sudden and unexpected street art, a number of huge and intricate murals on the buildings.
We alighted from the Metro and found ourselves in the 13th arrondissement, an area of Paris that was previously unknown to me. A couple of turns down wet, gray streets that were mostly residential but dotted with neighborhood businesses and restaurants (primarily Asian) took us to the humble front door of Comptoir Vietnam.
The interior was very small, with only six or eight tables. The menu was delightfully not in English. This ain’t no tourist trap!
Noticing that we weren’t French or Asian, one of the patrons struck up a conversation with us immediately. She wanted to know how we found the place, because “usually only locals come here”. She helped us interpret the menu and decide what to order, and reinforced what we already suspected: this was going to be a great meal.
Oh my goodness!
We had dumplings that took a little while to arrive, because they were steamed to perfection after we ordered them – three different kinds (shrimp, pork and beef). There were piquant dipping sauces that someone back in the kitchen probably made that day.
Two of us chose Bo Bun Nem, a dish I had never heard of. It was a big bowl of beef and incredibly rich broth and vermicelli or rice noodles and fresh things like cilantro and cucumber and chile peppers and cucumbers and bean sprouts and whole pieces of some kind of crispy spring roll and a deep, oniony sauce – oh my! “This is North Vietnamese food,” my friend had said. “Nothing like we usually eat in the US.” Umm-hmm. And in addition to being super-delicious, it was cheap!
We didn’t talk much at Comptoir Vietnam after the meal arrived, except to revel in our good fortune. So I’m sharing it with you in case you get to the 13th arrondissement of Paris one day. You should.
As for me, I’ll be back in Paris this week, and I really want to go back to Comptoir Vietnam. And if I can’t make it on this trip, then I will on the next one. It’s that good. And there are soooooo many other dishes to try!
Thanks for the recommendation, my friend!
© 2018 Glover Gardens
16 thoughts on “Comptoir Vietnam: A Tiny Treasure in the 13th Arrondissement of Paris”
Aw shucks. 😜
Shucks, indeed! this was a true discovery, and i hope to return tomorrow night to check out the rest go the 13th arrondissement.
I used to wander around a lot. I don’t so much anymore. We’ll be in Germany tomorrow. Nimes on the 20th… and so on.
Life in the fast lane! I keep missing y’all…but not forever.
Nah. Fast lane implies fun. This is just work. Even the musicians see it as their jobs. Besides how many times have you gone to Europe in the past months…. life in the fast lane. 🙂
Yeah, I’d like to slow it down a little bit and actually stay in one place long enough to enjoy it when I travel. Maybe next time.
It doesn’t work. It’s not cost effective for your company. It’s not cost effective for us. You and we would have to pay for extended travel out of our pockets.
And it has vegetarian dishes too! Looks delicious.
I would be so honored if you went there when you were next in Paris and let me know how you found it.
I have saved the post! No current plans for Paris, but you never know when …
Hi Kim! It sounds like you’ve been taken to a great place. And you’re right, the dishes are so cheap for Paris! This is a gem, the BoBun Nem you had looks fantastic! Thanks for sharing your experience 🙂
It sounds amazing. I hope you will make it back there, Kim. Happy travels. Say hi to Paris for me!
Thank you for loving the food in my country 🙂 I also have a new blog on food and travel, please check it out if you like 🙂 https://avietnameseinlondon.com/
I visited your blog – I like it! I’d love to get your recommendations for Vietnamese food in London and will be following you now.