Les Pâtes Vivantes
46, rue du Faubourg-Montmartre, in the 9th Arrondissement.
01 45 23 10 21.
22, blvd St.-Germain, in the 5th.
01 40 46 84 33. Lunch and dinner, Mon–Sat.
“You saved our lives,” said a friend in New York, just back from a trip to Paris. “We got sick,” she continued, “and that noodle place was exactly what we needed.”
The noodle place in question? The 9th Arrondissement’s Les Pâtes Vivantes.
I had given her some addresses—she and her boyfriend work in restaurants—where I knew they could eat well, but when they got to Paris they found themselves severely under the weather. In case you didn’t know this, a bowl of brothy noodles cures everything.
I first read about Les Pâtes Vivantes on David Lebovitz’s blog (I imagine many people did!) and was excited at the thought of a new noodle joint to replace the less-than-stellar place I frequented on rue Ste. Anne in the 2nd.
Most of the restaurants on that street are, of course, Japanese. Over in the 9th, Les Pâtes Vivantes—though far from the established Chinatowns in the 13th and Belleville—is Chinese, and their specialty is hand-pulled noodles. It’s worth a visit just to watch the noodle cook toss, roll and stretch a piece of dough, transforming it from a shapeless ball into yards of thick cream-colored string.
The noodles (9–12 euros) are served sautéed or in soups, with vegetables, shrimp, chicken or pork. My favorite is the spicy Szechuan beef, with thin pieces of meat floating among the slippery noodles in a slightly piquant broth, garnished with fresh cilantro and scallions. I say “slightly” because this is Paris, after all, and the Parisian palate is not so tolerant of heat. I also like the nouilles à la sauce chajiang—tender pork, bean paste and soybeans in a barbecue-like brown sauce, garnished with celery leaves, carrot and more cilantro.