France’s links with southeast Asia date back to the invasion of southern Vietnam in 1862, which then led to the founding in 1864 of its Indochine colony, today Laos, Cambodia and Vietnam. Despite an almost century-long French presence and a substantial Asian population in the capital, however, Paris has long been something of an also-ran when it comes to Asian cooking when compared with other major cities such as London and Los Angeles.
To be sure, there are some excellent Vietnamese, Laotian and Cambodian restaurants in the capital, but after being founded by people who moved to France in the 1970s, many of them seem to have aged into a mellow mediocrity born of catering to French tastes rather than producing the vivid flavours found in authentic versions of these three cuisines.
Now, though, this looks to be changing as a young generation of Paris chefs has become besotted by Asian cooking, foods and flavours.
One of the most intriguing new Asian addresses in Paris is Brigade du Tigre, which is run by the exceptionally talented Adrien Ferrand and Galien Emery, Ferrand’s best friend and former sous-chef at the outstanding Eels, which opened in 2017 and is consistently one of the best modern bistros in the capital. Emery lived in Malaysia for five years, and the two friends spent three months traveling through Thailand, Sri Lanka, Singapore and China before returning to Paris with the idea of opening a restaurant that would serve their own Asian-inspired cooking.
Brigade du Tigre opened last October and has quickly become one of the most successful debuts of a decidedly difficult year for the Paris restaurant scene. Emery heads the kitchen and sends out a superb array of impeccably conceived and executed dishes, including steamed wild-mushroom ravioli in Tom Kha bouillon, tempura cauliflower with a sauce XO, five-spice bao rolls (coiled buns made with rice flour and steamed), ceviche and a stunningly succulent lacquered pork belly confit with pak choi and pumpkin on a bed of steamed rice.
The matcha, white chocolate and cranberry cake is a perfect conclusion to a meal here and sums up the sexy West-meets-East identity of this excellent restaurant perfectly.
Brigade du Tigre, 38 Rue du Faubourg Poissonnière, Paris, 10th Arrondissement
Tel. (33) 01-45-81-51-56.
Average à la carte €40.
From France Today magazine