Foyer Vietnam

Restaurants , Vietnamese 5th arrondissement
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© John Brunton

The best Asian cuisine in Paris today is either in Belleville or the sprawling Chinatown that covers most of the 13th arrondissement. But the earliest oriental restaurants were actually opened up by the Vietnamese in the then-Bohemian Left Bank, and in 2013 a new address popped up on the chic Rue Monge, just by the Sorbonne. There is no sign outside that gives any idea this might be a restaurant, but open the door and you walk right into a bustling, colourful diner that the voluntary staff who run it like to call ‘a small corner of Vietnam in the heart of Paris’. Although there is definitely some link with official organisations of the Vietnamese government – and pride of place goes to a classic portrait of Ho Chi Minh, himself once a student at the Sorbonne – the main aim of the Foyer is to help Vietnamese students studying in the French capital and provide a relaxed meeting place for them to study; any profits go to financing cultural and humantarian projects. This may all sound stuffy, but the Foyer is anything but, newly decorated in bright funky colours, art exhibitions hanging on the walls, and friendly students rushing between tables to serve customers while the kitchen is manned by a brigade of unpaid chefs. Though the style of the Foyer may be chic canteen, the exquisite cuisine merits the description gastronomic, though the prices could not be more affordable – classics like Pho Tai Chin, a giant beef soup, or Bo Bun with prawns and nems spring rolls under €8, and a €9 gourmet dish of the day such as Ga Nu’ong Sa, lemongrass roasted chicken. Be sure to save space for desserts like Che chuoi, tapioca pearls with banana and coconut milk, or tangy homemade ginger ice cream.

Venue name: Foyer Vietnam
Address: 80 Rue Monge, 5th

Opening hours: Mon-Sat 12noon-2pm, 7pm-10pm
Transport: Metro: Monge
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