March 28, 2007

Spring Break in Paris: Day 5

You know that Lenny Kravitz-approved falafelrie in the Marais that seems to get all the ladeez attention even though a superior falafelrie sits right across the street? WHAT IS UP WITH THAT? Falafel lovers, explain yo-selves.

Mi-Va-Mi
Mi-Va-Mi

L'as du Fallafel's contender is Mi-Va-Mi, whose bright fluorescent signs scream at you to GOUTEZ et COMPAREZ and FALAFEL COMPLET 4€, among other relevatory prose. As soon as she knew I was going to Paris, Meg, who ate many falafels at Mi-Va-Mi (the exact number is unknown), insisted that I TASTE and COMPARE to further question how Lenny Kravitz's taste buds became the gold standard in the world of Parisian falafels.

sammiches and stuff
sammiches and stuff

Last-last Wednesday, Diana and I ordered the same falafel pita sandwiches and glasses of lemonade to wash down the fried chickpea matter for our lunch. We unanimously decided that, mmm, this is some very good falafel.

Innards
innards

Feeling the light crunch of my fork poking through the falafel's shell into its creamy innards already told me that the falafel was awesome without having to actually eat it. The crunch-factor is important, folks. First off, there should be crunchiness, otherwise the whole process of deep frying is pretty useless. The thing crust should quickly give way to moist innards, although I'm not sure I've ever seen them quite as creamy as Mi-Va-Mi's. Much better rich and creamy instead of brittle and dry, a combination I've tasted in falafel before and shall never be repeated again, except in hell.

The non-falafel ingredients in the pita also possessed high levels of awesome. In particular, chunks of grilled eggplant had magical butter-like qualities and an entire head of crunchy red cabbaged in chopped form seemed to be stuffed into the fluffy, chewy pita that was soft enough to be an angel's bed. Maybe the falafels were angel babies. And I ate the babies. And I damn well enjoyed eating the babies. I would have rather Mi-Va-Mi put in more eggplant and less cabbage, but it was still soooo goooood.

Interior
roomy!

Besides the food, the restaurant feels less cramped than L'as du Fallafel. ...Perhaps because it doesn't have as many customers. But it should! And then some.

I highly recommend Mi-Va-Mi next time you're in the Marais (not during Sabbath, or else you'll be met with a depressingly unwelcoming and dark storefront) and crave falafel. And you know, should always be in the Marais and you should always be craving falafel. In a perfect world.

What do you do after you fill your belly with a falafel pita sandwich? You get dessert! And how convenient it is of Paris to put dessert destinations every couple of feet for us sugar addicts.

Boulangerie Malineau
Boulangerie Malineau

In addition to Mi-Va-Mi, Meg also recommended Boulangerie Malineau to me for good pain au chocolat. But something squishy and colorful in the window caught my eye first.

GUIMAUVES!
guimauves!

Oh dear god, it's a pile of marshmallow logs! What the hell? Where have these babies been all my life? Marshmallows are obviously better as a long rod of uncut-ness than chopped into individual pieces. It makes pinching off chunks of your desired length much more satisfying. The dusting of sugar on your fingertips after the violent de-congealing, the sticky, wrinkly stub left behind as you savor the airy combination of gelatin and egg white that makes you wonder why the hell anyone ever thought to mix the two ingredients in the first place and actually ingest the gooey mass. Oh, these are some of the greatest memories one can have. Really.

We lucked out by picking coconut for our first Parisian marshmallow experience. Other flavors included lemon, coffee, something fruity and something plain, none of which tasted as good or balanced as the coconut.

pain au chocolat innards
pain au chocolat

We also shared a pain au chocolat, which probably would've been shazamilicious (I think that means "very delicious", as for some reason just saying "very delicious" didn't seem appropriate) if it had been fresher or contained a stick of butter. But it was still very good and I liked its "double barrels of chocolate" configuration that made it easier to rip in two for sharing purposes.

hello kitty
HELLO KITTY!

We browsed around the nearby BHV to kill some time and possibly find a gift for Diana's baby brother in the toy section where I found one of the most awesome things in Paris for 1 euro (aside from a baguette, pain au chocolat, and other assorted baked goods): "HELLO KITTY WRAPPED IN FOOD"-DANGLY! God, I really should've kept dumping my 1€ coins into the machine until I amassed the whole collection of inexplicably food-wrapped giant-headed Hello Kitties (I wanted the gelato or macaron), but I restrained myself and stopped after two; one for me and one for Alex who had previously expressed desire for a cell phone dangly, except to his horror and mine later found out that his cell phone had no place for dangly implementation. Stupid French phone refusing to be accessorized with useless Japanese tchotchkes....[shakes first]

Mariage Freres
Mariage Frères

After leaving BHV with my 200% more Hello Kitty-fied bag, Diana and I met up with Alex and his friends Charlie and Sophie at Mariage Frères, the famed house of tea. Across the street from the cafe/tea shop is an extension of their tea shop for MAXIMUM TEA. You cannot escape it. And if you're with Charlie you will be constantly reminded that MF is the birthplace of tea jelly that tastes like babies. Delicious babies. Baabbbiiiesss.

"Ohhh, tea jelly, tastes like babiiiesss., delicious baaabiiiiies!" [insert growling "Jabba the Hutt"-like moan of pleasure, or something, as Charlie's eyes roll back into his head.]

I didn't try this tea jelly, but Charlie constantly reminded us of its nearly immeasurably tastiness, only comparable to the sweet, virgin flesh of newborn humans. Damn. That must be some good jelly.

with armor without armor

Between the five of us, we shared three pots of tea. Regular tea come in these armored bowling ball-shaped pots to best keep in the warmth, or prevent the teapots from being damaged in a dog attack. Or a little bit of both.

crazy white tea
crazy white tea

The star of the table was the crazy expensive white tea that came in its own magical glass pot accompanied by a magical strainer and a magical cup in a magical tray. These are the perks of being MAGICAL TEA. And my "magic" I mean "tastes like forest." And I don't mean a magical forest, I mean like a down-to-earth dirt-filled forest. With plants. And chlorophyll. This tea tasted like plant. Maybe that's your thing, I don't know.

Oh, I should tell you that I don't really like tea because it tends to remind me of dirty water. But I'll try it if it's good, you know? Even if it's wasted on me. My four neighboring tea drinkers were all quite into their fragrant liquids...

suugaar...
sugar

...While I was into marring the liquid with dainty silver paddle-fulls of nerds-sized sugar chunks. I probably would've been happy just eating the sugar. Yup, I'm that pathetic.

sandwiiich...
sammich!

Charlie ordered some non-tea in the form of this beautiful open face sandwich platter made with matcha bread topped with crazy stuff like foie gras and less things of sea-origins. Foie gras trumps all else, you know.

After our afternoon tea, we look a gander at Colette, the intense gallery-esque design conscious store with a scary flash-based website featuring faceless robotic chipmunk voiced...god knows. So. The store is pretty cool. They were selling a cashmere sweater with a winged hamburger design, but it unfortunately cost something like a bagillion euros. Probably would've cost that much even if it weren't made of cashmere. Doh.

Inaniwa Umami-An Japanese business men
Inaniwa Umami-An

After going back to our apartment and probably killing time on the Internet, Diana and I went out again to meet up with Umami, Jessie and Adelyn for dinner at Inaniwa Umami-An near the Champs Elysees. I wanted to eat there after reading Umami's review of the non-sushi-centric restaurant and seeing that they had okonomiyaki, one of my favorite dishes that I almost never get to eat because few places make it. Everything was as good as Umami said it would be.

yummy beef stuff veg!
small bowls of stuff!

We started off with side dishes of nikujaga (pork and potatoes, like the best parts of beef stew) and a shredded vegetable...salad...thing. With carrots. And sesame. And I obviously did not take any notes.

little shredded veggie dish of some sort that I liked
shredded radish

We also all received complimentary bowls of shredded radish in some magical Japanese sauce that tasted awesome. Maybe it included sesame oil. God, I love sesame oil.

OOH BEEFY
beeef!

My favorite dish of the night was the lightly charred, rare-cooked steak, bursting with the juiciness and tenderness of pink cow flesh. If all steak tasted this good, I would freakin' eat more of it. Even the side vegetables tasted unfathomably good, maybe because they got some tasty mojo from the steak.

pork okonomiyaki
okonomiyaki

The pork okonomiyaki didn't disappoint either. It's a hearty savory cabbage-based pancake, crisp out the outside, soft on the inside, covered in okonomiyaki sauce (which apparently tastes a little like Worcestershire sauce, not that that tells me much since I don't know what Worcestershire sauce tastes like) and bonito flakes that creepily dance in the steam's heat waves.

udon
udon!

I've never had the thin style of Japanese udon before. Noods can do no wrong when they're all soft and slightly chewy and luxuriously swimming in some savory broth made of I don't know what. I CAN'T DESCRIBE FOOD, okay? They're noodles! They're delicious! If you don't like them, you nutso!

full spread
full spread

We tried a great array of foodstuffs thanks to Umami's orderings skills. By the end of the night our bellies were satisfied without being too stuffed. Which means there was room for dessert.

green tea ice cream black sesame creme brulee innards of black sesame creme brulee
sweets

Diana and Adelyn ordered green tea ice cream, but as I have a slight aversion to tea and a slight obsession with black sesame, I went with the black sesame crème brûlée. Although I think I prefer regular vanilla-laden crème brûlée to the black sesame version, it was delicious when I just looked at it as deluxe black sesame pudding topped with a sugary crust. It was a smidge heavier than I would've preferred, but burst with 250% toasted black sesame flavor. That's a lot. Good stuff, yes yes. Many thanks to Umami for filling our bellies with happiness (because great Japanese food equates to happiness, of course).

We took some group photos outside the restaurant with the help of Umami's husband who swung by the restaurant to say hello. One photo caught a passer-by to the right of us making a blurry wave to the camera. Ohhh, Frenchies, you are funny.

addresses

Mi-Va-Mi
27 rue des Ecouffes, 4th
Metro: St. Paul (1)

Boulangerie Malineau
18 rue Vieille du Temple, 4th
Metro: Hotel de Ville (1, 11), St Paul (1)

BHV
14 Rue du Temple, 4th
Metro: Hotel de Ville (1, 11)

Mariage Frères
30 rue du Bourg-Tibourg, 4th
Metro: Hotel de Ville (1, 11)

Inaniwa Umami-An
27 rue du Colisee, 8th
Metro: Franklin D Roosevelt (1, 9)

Posted by roboppy at 1:12 PM

Tags: Adelyn, Alex, BHV, Charlie, Diana, falafel, Inaniwa Umami-An, Japanese, Jessie, Mariage Freres, Mi-Va-Mi, okonomiyaki, Paris, Sophie, steak, tea, Umami

Comments

you know what? I think NYU should have given you a stipend to spend the rest of the semester to in paris and report back on food, it would better allocation of their money than whatever they're doing with it now, hehe! :) I love okonomiyaki! my roomate is from tokyo and she makes it in our dorm every once in a while - it fails to amaze me with its deliciousness, how can CABBGAGE PANACAKES taste so good?!
...less than 6 weeks till college is alllllllll done! and then! and then we are FREE :)

Posted by: Kathy at March 28, 2007 1:38 PM [#]

first comment?! maybe!

That sandwich on the matcha bread is the most beautiful sandiwch I've ever seen. I wish there was somewhere nearby where I could get matcha bread, it sounds interesting, we have a shortage of things made with green tea in the US.

Tea is like dirty water, though it's been growing on me lately.

God I want falafel.

Posted by: susannah at March 28, 2007 1:42 PM [#]

Robyn,

I've never heard of okonomiyaki before, but it definitely looks good in your post. Umami-An is definitely on my list of places to check out when I am in Paris later this year.

Posted by: Marvin at March 28, 2007 3:44 PM [#]

MARSHMALLOW LOGS GAAAAAAAAAAH.

Can you imagine wielding those things? Like, if some guy tries to rob you and you pull out one of those babies and yelled MARSHMALLOW LOG POWER!!!!!!?!!?!

I think the robber would have a heart attack from the awesomeness. Then you can eat the marshmallow log in front of his still-warm corpse just to screw with his afterlife.

Posted by: Adalmin at March 28, 2007 7:50 PM [#]

OMG! I soo want that falafel sandwich! I also want the entire plate o' steak. Come to think of it, it's a more balanced meal than I had this week. You got the veggies (beans from the falafel) and the meats/proteins (steak). Hmm...you're on to something, Robyn.

Posted by: Tina at March 28, 2007 10:29 PM [#]

Kathy: NYU give me money? Wuuh? Naah, they need to spend that money on... ...other useless stuff.

I don't know any Japanese people with magical Japanese food-making skills! :(

FREEDOOOM! I can't wait to get out of here and then do I DUNNO WHAT!

Susannah: Second! You were close!

Maybe you can try to make matcha bread? Shove a lot of ...matcha...into some bread. BOOYA! I mean, dough. Then bake it. Yeah.

I had falafel today. :)

Marvin: I hope you check out all my favorite bakeries in Paris while you're at it. AND POZZETTO!!!

Adalmin: I want a t-shirt that says MARSHMALLOW LOG POWER! It would confuse everyone! Yay!

[strokes chin thoughfully]

Actually, it should be GUIMAUVE LOG POWER.

...Okay, I just stuck that into a translator and got "puissance de notation de guimauve", which sounds a little too weird.

Tina: I had more falafel today. Too much falafel, oh god. It feels as heavy as steak...or heavier sometimes.

Posted by: roboppy at March 28, 2007 10:49 PM [#]

Hey, this is the first time I've posted anything...anywhere. Just wanted to tell you that I really like your blog. Slowly becoming obsessed, really. Soon enough I'll have like a shrine dedicated to you with shrunken heads and mushrooms, to which I'll bow down and pray to every hour of every day. Eh, I'm lazy. Nevermind.

Anyway, back to the food. I remember the first time I had tea. I was like "This tastes like water...but worse. What the hell?" I dumped like ten spoonfuls of sugar into my tiny cup and my friend was like "What are you doing? You won't be able to taste the tea." "That's what I'm hoping," I replied. So, yes. That was my story. As you can tell, I am an awesome storyteller. I'll try to bestow you with more amazing stories in the future.

Until then, happy eating.

Posted by: Gloria at March 29, 2007 12:51 AM [#]

the toy-dispensing machines are pure evil. i once spent the equivalent of US$15 in 5 minutes trying to get the entire set of some toys. and of course, i didn't get the entire set.

so which hello kittys did you get?

Posted by: shukumei at March 29, 2007 5:54 AM [#]

ARGH! You're making me so jealous...*sigh* As a consolation, I'm going to treat myself to a trip to London in the fall. I really wanted to be there in the springtime, but couldn't get the time off. :(

Posted by: Reid at March 29, 2007 5:58 AM [#]

Ooh, I'm jealous
my life's goal is to go to Marriage Frères (and possibly to live there), and I love, love, love falafel

I think I need to make a trip to Paris, stat

Posted by: alexa at March 29, 2007 8:15 AM [#]

Oh wow! Matcha bread? I'm crazy about green tea and have been trying out recipes for matcha cake. How did that matcha bread taste?

Black sesame brulee?!?!?!?! I'M SO JEALOUS!!!

Posted by: maria~ at March 29, 2007 9:53 AM [#]

Gloria: YAY I GOT YOU OBSESSED! ...Damn. I mean. Cool! I hope this obsession isn't too detrimental to your life or anything.

So glad we're on the same page about tea. I use shizzloads of sugar for every dainty cuppa. Cos I suck! And that's my awesome story. But it's not a story.

shukumei: I ended up with a cream puff and the tiramisu, I think? Cream puff is rather cute. Imagine your head hugged by...choux pastry...uh huh.

Reid: I hope you swing by Paris also! London is cool, but ye know...Paris! Baguettes! Macarons! OVERBEARING PRETTINESS!!

Alexa: You should live in the Marais. Lots of tea and falafel!

Maria: I actually didn't try the bread, but Charlie said it was awesome. So! Must've been really good.

Posted by: roboppy at March 29, 2007 11:04 AM [#]

Another wonderful post, and all the more tantalizing because I too will be in Paris, next week! I will doubtless be consulting your blog on a daily basis, seeking inspiration and observing your sage advice. By the way, I was surprised that you had somehow never tasted Worcester sauce; it's a staple at my house, usually used as an ingredient rather than directly on food as a sauce. Also, I am assuming that by "Worcester" sauce you are meaning Worcestershire sauce (as in Lea & Perrins), which, to further complicate matters, is, my Brit friends tell me, pronounced "Wooster." It is good. A little goes a long way. Give it a chance some time.

Posted by: Marsha at March 29, 2007 12:02 PM [#]

Long Marshmallows? Only In Pareee? Non! Blue Apron Foods. Union St. Park Slope. R Train Accesible.

Posted by: Cassandra Tan at March 29, 2007 1:02 PM [#]

My word. That whole post is beautiful (matcha bread? I've got to try some!) But I could shed a tear at the searing beauty of your close-up photograph of that falafel innard. Holy fava bean, batman!

Posted by: bazu at March 29, 2007 7:59 PM [#]

hi robyn,
i love your photography! your flickr show of le comptoir is making me miss paris even more. what delicious in the cutest place. your trip to paris was so much more gastronomically productive than mine. i will have to follow in your footsteps next time!

Posted by: susan at March 30, 2007 12:02 AM [#]

my goodness, that is the first good looking steak i've ever seen in paris. for some reason steak there tastes chewy or gristly or wrong somehow to me. don't get me started on okonomiyaki!!! that is the japanese food i miss the most since i lived in japan when my dad was in the military. it's so good. i live in san francisco now where there are a lot of japanese but i still haven't found a good okonomiyai there yet. guess i'll try out your place on my next trip to paris. totally awesome, girl. thank you for the post. you've got me salivating big time (but not drooly--i'm keeping my mouth closed!).

Posted by: chris at March 30, 2007 12:38 AM [#]

Hi, i somehow found your blog somewhere and i love reading it!

Maybe because i've always dreamed to going to Paris. And and then eating Paris. Yes, i meant eating the city. I really really need to go to Mariage Frères now, i'm a huge tea lover.

Posted by: yannie at March 30, 2007 10:30 AM [#]

Marsha: OMG PARIS NEXT WEEK! I will be with you in spirit!

I've never consciously tasted Worcestershiredadooda sauce, but I suppose it's been in something I've eaten. Didn't leave much of an impression on me!

Cassandra: Does the store make em? Or is there some GIANT MARSHMALLOW supplier? :D

Bazu: Once I had to peel a gazillion soaked fava beans for my cooking class and that was so not fun. They smelled like...feeet. Thankfully they tasted good after being food processed and fried. Hooray for frying!

Susan: Dude, next time I go back I have to eat more too! :D Glad you enjoyed the photos!

Chris: So some of the best steak in Paris may be found at...a Japanese restaurant? :)

We need to start an okonomiyaki craze.

Yannie: Live the dream! Go get some tea! In Paris, I mean.

Posted by: roboppy at March 30, 2007 2:38 PM [#]

Hey Robyn,
This was a GREAT post. Your blog is always fun to read, but this post was particularly funny and well laid-out. Whatever you are doing, keep doin' it!

Would you believe that I have made marshmallows from scratch? My recipe did not have any egg whites and most packaged marshmallows don't have any egg whites either. Don't know about whether they use it in sweet shops in Paris, though.

Posted by: Shawn at March 30, 2007 11:47 PM [#]

I really, really love okonomiyaki. In Japan, I learned when I was in Japan in January, okonomiyaki falls under the general umbrella of teppan-yaki: food cooked on a huge griddle, or teppan. Yakisoba is another.

I also learned that there are two main styles of okonomiyaki: the Kansai style, where everything is mixed together in the batter then grilled, and the Hiroshima style where the thing is cooked in layers-first the pancake and bonito, then cabbage, then egg, then noodles...oh man. I tried the Hiroshima style for the first time, and it was really good. Even better since it was cooked right in front of me.

One of my host families also cooked me Tokyo's answer to okonomiyaki: monjyayaki. It's a weird cheesy soupy thing, and it's an experience if you ever get the chance to eat it. Especially because you eat it right off the griddle with little metal spatulas.

...Wow, weird comment. Seeing a picture of okonomiyaki just got me a little excited.

Posted by: Ezra at March 31, 2007 12:32 PM [#]

I think there are little elves that make them. Or perhaps it's the leprechauns.
-Cat

Posted by: Cassandra Tan at March 31, 2007 7:47 PM [#]

Shawn: Keep doing whatever I'm doing...you mean eating? OKAY!!!

Actually my mum wants me to cut down on the food. I dunno how to do it. Unngg. She's right though, I really have to eat less.

Oo, you've made marshmallows? Awesome! I dunno what the Parisian marshmallows were made of, so maybe there wasn't any egg white.

Posted by: roboppy at April 1, 2007 9:26 PM [#]

Mi Va Mi is owned by a good friend of ours, Norbert. When we were in Paris, we ate there.

Posted by: Chaya at July 11, 2008 10:47 AM [#]

that must have been realy bad white tea! cause we got some from Sri Lanka in march and it tastes like HEAVEN, smooth, aloof and with a subtle flowey fragrance. and if you visit Collette, there is a small cafe either opposite or somewhere next to it called 512 or something with numbers anyways, try their banana bread. SEN-fricking-SATIONAL!!

Posted by: miss ghesquiere at August 2, 2008 12:32 PM [#]

Hello! I am writing a segment for the Times of Israel news site and am including information about Mi-Vami. I would love to use one of the photographs of falafel that you took. Could you please email me with proper accreditation for the photo? This would be a huge help!

Thank you! Your blog is lovely and very informative!

Posted by: Lauren Winer at July 30, 2012 3:09 AM [#]

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