Chinese

Phnom Penh (Nice, France)

THE STORY

Buffet style Asian food has never appealed to me. The first time I experienced an Asian buffet was in the early 2000s in Sacramento, California, and there were french fries and soft serve. I was mortified to realize that this was some people's idea of Chinese/Asian food.

Fast forward almost two decades to Nice, France, where Chop Suzy is quite intrigued by the food in the displays at Phnom Penh. It's not a buffet-style restaurant - more like take-out. But the dumplings and noodles in the windows were just too tempting. I was willing to take the risk, and I'm so glad I did.

I do, however, regret to inform you that I never took pictures of the food. It was before I decided to start this blog, so it never occurred to me that documenting this life-altering experience would be important.

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THE REVIEW

The Ramen Marauder and I ordered egg rolls, veggie stir fry, hargaos ("hakkao"), and siu mai.  My initial reaction is to say "All things considered..." or "Considering the fact that..." But when it comes right down to it, I genuinely enjoyed all of it.

The dim sum experience of ordering steamers full of odds and ends and the Chinese restaurant version of noodles stir-fried to order both have their place. And sometimes you just want to stuff your face with dumplings in peace. Phnom Penh is the perfect fit for dumpling destroying.

Phnom Penh, 2 Rue de la Préfecture, 06300 Nice, France, +33 4 93 85 20 85

Fufu Ramen (Bordeaux, France)

THE STORY

Bordeaux may have had the most Asian restaurants we've seen during a long weekend. I knew beforehand that the city is home to a plethora of beloved food institutions, but just the number of casual Asian dining spots was surprising. When all is said and done, I believe we ate more Asian food than any other cuisine while we were in Bordeaux.

We also happened to visit during the Lunar New Year, which is always supposed to be a delicious time. In the past, I've cooked dumplings and pork belly lo mein and salt and pepper shrimp, and I've also gone out for incredibly lavish meals with family and friends. This year felt tame, and to some extent, sad.

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But lo and behold, we came across a parade, complete with a dragon and a lion! We followed it to a small square where a short performance of the dragon chasing the sun took place (the lion called it quits as soon as we reached the square).

While the celebration we witnessed was small, it sparked my interest yet again in the Asian diaspora in Europe. What do people choose to hold on to as immigrants? What do people choose to celebrate as the generations go on? How do these immigrant traditions contrast with resident culture? Do the two cultures feel partitioned or combined within an identity?

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With those thoughts in mind, we attempted to have lunch at Fufu Ramen, but it was packed. I tried to step inside to put our name on a list, but I couldn’t even fit through the door because it was so packed. We decided to go back for dinner right when it opened. We were successful.

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THE REVIEW

If you’re looking for ramen in Bordeaux, this is the spot.  I ordered the chachuramen, and the Ramen Maurader had the tantanramen. The chachuramen was a clean flavor - not too salty or oily. The pork was also perfectly cooked. I’d say, however, that the tantanramen was better. It was a tahini/miso mix that was also kind of garlicky. It was so delicious (if you’re preference is tonkotsu style).

As I mentioned, the wait on a Friday for lunch was insane, and we went for dinner when it opened. I recommend adding it to your list of places to eat, but be ready to wait (probably).

 

Fufu Ramen, 37 Rue Saint-Rémi, 33000 Bordeaux, France, +33 5 56 52 10 29

Yaki (Brussels, Belgium)

THE STORY

At the beginning of our time in Europe, we were not actively searching out Asian food. Though in our exploration of Brussels, we passed a large window with what appeared to be bowls upon bowls of noodles and rice. I was in awe of just the artistry of it, let alone the fact we had found a noodle spot in Brussels. (It turns out that fake food art is a thing.)

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I was so excited about the decorative noodle bowls that I forgot to write down the name of the restaurant! I hadn't been as mindful of such things at the beginning of our journeys. A few days later though we finally stumbled upon it again for dinner - it was meant to be.

The restaurant is described on the internet as "Thai," though I would consider the dish I had to be Chinese, and there were definitely Vietnamese dishes on the menu, too. Such is the nature of Asian restaurants in Europe.

The restaurant itself is small, but luckily it was a warm summer evening and there was a table available for us outside. I was enamored with how the kitchen was set up: it was just a few ranges on one side and ingredients lining the other. The operation was admirable - one that I'd want in my restaurant if I ever opened one.

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THE REVIEW

I ordered a noodle soup with char siu pork, and the Ramen Marauder ordered...some other tasty soup. Much like Nam Kee in Amsterdam, this char siu noodle soup tickled my soul. I feel like the BBQ pork is a flavor that appeals to many, but I don't see it as often. The flavors were clean, simple, and distinct. It was the perfect amount of food on a beautiful Belgian evening.

There were so many delicious-looking noodle soups that I wish we could've gone back again! I highly recommend visiting Yaki for your noodle soup fix.


There are two Yaki locations, but we only went to the Grand Palace location: Rue du Midi 52, 1000 Bruxelles, Belgique, +32 2 503 34 09