Paris has been stepping up its game when it comes to burgers, tacos and cocktails. A girl can feel like she’s back in Brooklyn when she’s actually in SoPi. But Korean food? Despite there being 50+ Korean restaurants scattered across the city, it’s not easy to find one that doesn’t cater to the delicate, garlic-and-chili-averse French palate. (Are they vampires? Pale, moody, addicted to red wine… WTF?! Paris, why have I never made this connection before?)
Korean food is supposed to kick your ass a little! And it seems like France has finally gotten the memo that Korean [food, music, art, beauty] is a huge trend. After eight years here, I’m just happy I’ve found a handful of restaurants where I can almost pretend I’m in K-Town.
Image via Mokbar
A calm restaurant with a slightly more refined spin to its dishes. The gujeolpan shouldn’t be missed. (They may be the only game in Paris when it comes to this elegant platter of nine different meats and vegetables.)
33, Rue des Petits Champs, 75001
Great stews and an atmosphere that feels very lively and K-Townish—bright, noisy, efficient, inexpensive. The spiciest soondubu chigae (tofu stew) I’ve had in Paris. Still not spicy enough! There’s almost always a line out the door for lunch and dinner.
6, rue Thérèse, 75001
Image via Ecole Coréenne 76
Double-fried Korean chicken has arrived in Paris, courtesy of Quixotic Projects (Candelaria, Le Mary Celeste, Glass). The space is gorgeous and, apart from the chicken and bespoke cocktails, you’ll want to gobble down some pork bun sliders while checking out the French and expat hipster scene. Here’s their kale kimchi recipe.
289, rue Saint-Denis, 75002
The Korean-French chef and Top Chef finalist doesn’t do traditional dishes but brings a light Korean touch to innovative French plates at his two eponymous establishments (just 30 meters apart from each other). Pierre himself is affable—and easy on the eyes.
55, rue Oberkampf, 75011
6, rue Gambey, 75011
A full-on fusion spot, mixing the steamed bun, or bao, with Korean fillings. Chef-owner Yoonsun Kim also does fried gimbap (Korean-style maki) and her version of bo ssam (the pork-wrapped-in-lettuce dish that David Chang made legendary at Momofuku Ssam Bar in NYC). The €12 lunch menu is a bargain.
59 bis, rue de Lancry, 75010
Image via Hero
The classic Korean dish of mixed vegetables, meat and rice (bibimbap literally means “mixed rice”) is apparently so loved by the French that there are three restaurants that specialize in it.
Jules et Shim
Four different kinds of bibimbap come in beautiful containers that resemble an origami flower, perfect for takeout or delivery. A few small tables for eating in.
22, rue des Vinaigriers, 75010
The restaurant is called Bibimbap and they offer six versions, including vegan and octopus.
32, Boulevard de l’Hôpital, 75005
Yoonsun Kim’s first restaurant (before SAam) specializes in fresh interpretations of the dish with different varieties of meats, vegetables and sauces. Open only for lunch and very popular.
85, rue d’Hauteville, 75010
Image via Curious Nut
A serene restaurant with only twelve seats at the oak bar. Chef Kim Kwang-Loc serves mandoo (dumplings) and Korean-style tartare (beef or tuna) with a meticulous and delicate hand. He is passionate about introducing the French to his native cuisine with a soft touch, i.e. no kimchi.
7, rue d’Edimbourg, 75008
A new favorite for everything from the gorgeous decor to the beautifully prepared and presented dishes. They’ve also got galbi tang (short rib soup) and naengmyun (buckwheat noodles), rare finds for Paris.
78, rue des Tournelles, 75003
Image via l’Express