Friday, August 18, 2006

Le Petit Paris

A few of my Level 1 students and I hit a resto called Le Petit Paris this evening. It wasn't bad. The place is located on a side street close to Yonsei University; it's a small restaurant with only six long tables (or twelve four-tops, to use the proper terminology).

My students wanted to see how good my French was, but I didn't have much of a chance to speak with the cooks, who are ethnically Korean but French nationals. The cooks spent most of their time in their extremely cramped kitchen; I managed to snag one and ask him in French how long he'd been in Korea, and he said he'd been here a long time. I didn't have a chance to ask how long "a long time" was; he had to get right back to work.

The resto has lunch hours, then closes from about 2pm to 6pm. It was a good thing my students made reservations, otherwise we wouldn't have had a table: after 6:30, the place started to fill up.

The food itself was good but not great. I'd recommend Le Petit Paris primarily for its atmosphere, which strongly reminded me of a relaxed French restaurant in Old Town Alexandria called Le Gaulois. Prices at Le Petit Paris are fairly reasonable, but as with most French restaurants, you shouldn't expect a large amount of food.

My students-- skinny girls, all-- elected to order only three main dishes and two salads. We also ordered three desserts (a chocolate moelleux, which was nicely done but tiny). Everything was shared. The salads were quite good; among the meat dishes, the poulet farci was nicely done (I had exactly one bite of it, alas). The potatoes that accompanied the main dishes were nothing to write home about, but not bad.

French cuisine carries a certain reputation with it-- one that needs to be deflated, in my opinion. True haute cuisine is deserving of the name, but most French food should, in my opinion, cost about half to a third as much as it does. Le Petit Paris is fairly cheap for the quality of the food on offer: our group of five paid W74,000 (with yours truly fronting W40,000 of that). We didn't have any wine; my long-time readers know I don't drink, and the students were probably too cash-strapped to order wine themselves.

In all, I'd say Le Petit Paris is not a bad place to sample some decent French food, and the relaxed ambience makes up for whatever might be lacking in the food itself. A special salute to the French cooks for their fortitude: I'd go nuts trying to cook anything in that nook of a kitchen.


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