While Asian food is seldom on my visitors’ initial food list, the request for it invariably pops up after 2 or 3 pastry filled and lard laden days in Paris. The state of Chinese restaurants in the city is somewhat lacking, so I generally steer people towards Vietnamese food that is hard to find in Singapore and generally very authentic here. Le Bambou is my standby in the 13eme, but if you’re one who abhors choice, Song Heng, whose sparse menu lists only 2 items, is where you should go.
Here, in a sterile looking hole in the wall amidst other unassuming Asian joints around the Arts et Metiers metro station, one is served a steaming bowl of pho, welcome on a drearily grey day such as last Saturday. The broth is excellent, very light and clear, and the meat and meatballs are very fresh and clean tasting. Song Heng is perhaps the only pho shop I’ve been to that advertises the provenance of its meat (French of course).
Not in the mood for pho? Then you only have one choice. Thankfully menu item number 2 is equally good, if not even tastier than the pho. The nem is probably the weakest link, anemic in size and stuffing. But the well grilled beef is extremely flavorful, and I adore the freshly roasted peanuts that lends an added dimension of aroma and crunch to this vermicelli salad. Mix it well before tucking in, as the shopkeeper authoritatively ordered us to, so as to allow the salty and tangy sauce, as well as the meat juices to be fully absorbed into the noodles. Bliss.
Song Heng is unsurprisingly, highly popular and only keep day hours, starting from 10am to 4 pm, or when they run out of ingredients for the day. We were seated immediately when we arrived at 11am, but by 11.30, the line was already forming, so plan to arrive early to avoid an unnecessary angst.
3 Rue Volta, 75003, Paris