There's only so much foie gras and duck confit and red wine that I can take, he said, not believing that he said it.
Really, though, after a few days of eating the largely rich flavors and round textures of food in France, our palate begged for a kick in the teeth. Something with edge. With bite.
While we did have a very good Chinese meal a few days prior to this lunch (at Impérial Choisy), we were hoping for some of the assertive flavors of Sichuan cooking. En route on foot to Chinatown (in the 13th), a quick on-the-fly google for "Sichuan in Paris" led me to the very helpful blog by David Lebovitz (I relied on this blog quite a bit, partly because its Google ranking is very high and thus it's always in the search results, and more importantly because it's an enjoyable and informational blog). Deux Fois Plus de Piment is not in Chinatown, so an about face was in order. I could barely contain my excitement at the prospect of something spicy.
This is a tiny, bare-bones restaurant that seats maybe 26 people, elbow to elbow (as Parisian restaurants tend to). There was a single server on duty, who we thought might even be cooking the food behind the little door (he wasn't...at least I don't think he was). And there's no Sancerre on the menu. Just beer.
It wasn't much of a challenge to navigate the menu, especially with assistance from the Google Translate app (how did we travel before smart phones? I think we had to learn some words and buy maps and stuff).
Up first was a cucumber dish. I assumed it would be a cold cucumber dish, maybe with a bit of spicy oil, but this dish turned out to be much more complex, and outstanding. Spicy oil, cilantro, peanuts, flavors I couldn't put my finger on. This was an indication that we were in for some treats.
The missus is a sucker for Sichuan pork dumplings, so they were up next. The sauce is spicy and sweet and these were indeed a fine version of Sichuan dumplings.
We spied tofu on the menu (Tofu avec porc hache pimente), and assumed it must be a version of Ma Po Tofu, what with words that look like "tofu pork spice". After ordering it, and getting the sense that the server knew a bit of English, I asked and he confirmed this suspicion.
POW!!!! Out of the park. What can I say about this dish. What do you want me to say?
The final dish was pork (belly in this case) with leeks/green onions (Porc au poireau). You'd think this could be a dish of just a few notes, but in the hands of a Sichuan restaurant, and this kitchen, it was without a doubt one of the top dishes I had during this trip to France. Certainly in the top 10 of dishes I've had this year.
Not only did it have the luscious pork belly, but if I am correct, it had a bit of more crunchy pork sprinkled throughout. The scallions were plentiful. The sesame flavors, the textures, my goodness. If I find myself in Paris again, I will go back to this restaurant, to have this dish. Of this you are assured.
While my New Jersey-centric blog rarely veers from its stated focus, I will sometimes write about restaurants I experience when traveling. A recent trip to France, and the great eating and drinking that occurred, will no doubt fuel a few more posts, unless I get lazy, which I tend to.
The fact that the first restaurant I posted about from this trip is a Sichuan restaurant should tell you that, yeah, this place is still on my mind, and goooooood.
Deux Fois Plus de Piment : 33, rue Saint-Sebastien (11th) : 01 58 30 99 35