Citronnelle et Galanga

Citronnelle et Galanga

I’ve been a diehard fan of the Ta family’s exceptional Indochinese (Vietnam, Cambodia and Laos) cooking and the gracious hospitality of Virginie Ta ever since I first discovered their original Latin Quarter restaurant Au Coin des Gourmets some 20 years ago. A few years back, a branch called Indochine opened on the Right Bank, where the decor is slightly more sophisticated and the food’s just as good. Now comes their third, Citronnelle et Galanga, just off the Place des Victoires.

Sleekly decorated with vanilla walls and a long black banquette, it’s run by Chhim Ta, who not only shares his sister’s charm but is also a savvy oenophile—his by-the-glass pours during a recent dinner were outstanding, including a Nicolas Maillet Pouilly-Fuissé and a wonderful Lamy-Pillot Pinot Noir. Young Franco-Vietnamese chef Yann Preci officiates in the kitchen and the menu includes all my favorite Ta family dishes—Vietnamese ravioli; nem or chai gio (small deep-fried spring rolls, to be wrapped in lettuce leaves with fresh mint); ginger chicken; and amok, a Cambodian dish of fresh cod steamed in a banana leaf with coconut milk, galanga (a ginger-like root) and kaffir lime. My hope is that someday the Ta family will move into the ground floor of my building with a fourth restaurant, so that I’ll never again suffer an unrequited craving for rouleaux aux douze légumes (steamed spring rolls stuffed with 12 different vegetables). In the meantime, the good news for anyone who loves Indochinese cooking and reads French is that Virginie Ta has published a terrific cookbook, La Cuisine d’Indochine (Editions Hachette) for home cooks.

Citronelle et Galanga, 15 rue d’Aboukir, 2nd, Lunch menu €15, à la carte €35.

Au Coin des Gourmets, 5 rue Dante, 5th, €30

Indochine, 38 rue du Mont Thabor, 1st, €40

Prices are approximate, per person without wine.

Originally published in the May 2011 issue of France Today; updated in May 2012

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