MOSHI MOSHI NIPPON’s editorial department set out on a mission to investigate the fun at the overseas Japanese culture festival Japan Expo which was held in France from 5th 〜 13th July 2016. Results of this investigation have come through; this year was just as hot with enthusiasm as previous years. Over 200,000 visitors consisting of cosplayers dressing as their favourite characters, and fans who visited France to see their favourite Japanese artists, gathered together at the venue overflowing with excitement. Keep an eye out for the after report, which will be released later!
Now we get down to the main story of this report — food. Although France is home to 3 of the world’s most fancy dishes, just as we thought, after a mere week of staying in a foreign country led the editing team longing for Japanese food… the hungry stomachs of the staff started to cry — Is there any way we can eat a delicious bowl of ramen!? And so, the team left the hotel which was located on the outskirts of Paris, and headed towards the city centre.
After a 10-minute walk from the Palais Garnier, we hit a goldmine ー we found an area lined with ramen restaurants, which at the time we arrived were all popular with customers and many of the queues continued to trail outside onto the street. After considering all the ramen restaurants, we managed to narrow down our choices to two places. However, because of our desire to eat a deep, thick and strong ramen, we finally chose to eat Tonkotsu ramen. After a 20 minute wait in the queue which trailed along the street outside the ramen restaurant of our choice; “Hakata Choten”, we finally made it inside.
Looking around, 90% of those in the restaurant were foreigners, and everybody was using chopsticks to eat their Ramen or Gyoza. Turning our attention to the menu, we started to order. First of all, we need beer! Although we like France’s classic 1664 beer, as we were sitting in a restaurant serving up Japanese cuisine, we naturally ordered Japanese beer. We raised our cold and refreshing beer glasses, made a toast and then checked out the ramen side menu.
The first dish to arrive was the Chashu-don (roasted pork over rice bowl). It has been a very long time since we had last tasted the wonderfully chewy texture of Japanese rice, which was so delicious that we were completely satisfied with just the rice! Of course, the wonderful taste of the Chashu pork, which seeped into the rice for additional flavour, was also delicious, but after eating such delicious Japanese rice after such a long time, it was certainly in the major league! Very tasty!
The next dish to arrive at our table was Gyoza. The Gyoza from France tends to include less garlic chives and cabbage but more meat than Japanese Gyoza. The Gyoza had a wonderful flavour and the meat was succulent and juicy! The menu included two varieties of Gyoza — spicy Gyoza and Gyoza with spring onion. Looking around the restaurant, it seemed that most people ordered the Gyoza with spring onion.
Finally, the long-awaited Tonkotsu Ramen Special arrived! The beautiful black surface on the ramen is the fried garlic topping. Firstly we tried the ramen soup, which was rich with flavour. The noodles were soft and were entangled beautifully with the soup in the bowl. The combination of the ramen with the soft boiled ramen egg and the Chashu made it a complete dish which was so delicious that it could not be outdone by authentic Japanese ramen! Without saying a single word, we all finished up our ramen in silence.
Through all our toils to overseas countries, the number of times we have tried ramen which tastes different to authentic Japanese ramen is uncountable, however, the ramen served at Hakata Choken is exceptional, as we Japanese found it delicious! We did find the noodles quite soft, however this is probably to cater for the preferences of the French customers. This part of Japan that we experienced in France is perfect to satisfy the taste of the French and the Japanese. The taste was truly fantastic!
In the future, we will be releasing more reports like this about where we found a bit of Japan in a foreign country! If you have discovered a bit of Japan in your country, please let MOSHI MOSHI NIPPON know!
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