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SAaM: gua bao with a twist

My memory of large banquet dinners while growing up: they were noisy affairs, with a menu that was pretty much the same from one dinner to another, in large multi-purpose halls that were too stuffy for a crowd of several hundred, most of whom I did not know nor recognise but they’d all inevitably identified me as my great-grandparents’ great-granddaughter, or my grandparents’ granddaughter. (Ah yes, I was never my own person back then…) One of the messier dish to eat would be braised pig’s trotter, served with pacman-like buns on the side, and we were supposed to make our own bun sandwiches by stuffing the braised meat – or fat, if you were too slow on the uptake – then chomped away.

SAaM buns

SAaM buns

It was an upgraded version of these gua bao which awaited us at SAaM when my friends and I popped over recently for a food- and gab-fest. Five versions of buns were served in this small but quaint eatery, not overly crowded for a Saturday lunch, with four staff holding the fort between the front house and the open kitchen. Each has been given a Korean twist, although still as messy to eat as I remember from all the years gone by. ;)

The lunch menu was reasonably priced, starting from €12 for two buns, a few fried dumplings, some salad and garlicky fried potatoes. I also added a drink to my order, some kind of peach-based detox water? Between the three of us, we tested four varieties out of five available, as each of us all wanted at least a pork belly bun to ourselves. Marinated beef, fried chicken and tofu steak also made the cut – sorry fried fish! (Ps: for dinner, the price goes up to €7.50 per bun, €14.50 for two, and €19.50 for three.)

SAaM buns

SAaM buns

SAaM buns

SAaM buns

We liked how our meals were served simply in enamel bowls, which evoked yet another childhood memory. (They make great serving bowls for kids – non-breakable yet good as “musical instrument”, hehehe… I even had matching enamel cup!) The thick-cut pork belly with cucumber, peanuts and pickled onions was succulent with a good side of crunch; the fried chicken inevitably a tad too spicy for A since it was served with gochujang; the juicy marinate beef was cleverly paired with flavoursome kimchi slaw; and the vegetarian option of tofu steak with shittake sauce received satisfying thumbs up from C. All in all, three happy diners.

It is starting to feel like I’ve been on Asian food streak lately, and in particular, where Korean cuisine is involved. I won’t be pickling my own kimchi anytime soon, but I may have to start introducing gochujang onto my shelf of Asian sauces and expand my recipe collection. Not sure how F will feel about this development, but as he is getting onboard on kimchi snacking, I think he is unlikely to stage a protest.

59 bis rue de Lancry, 75010 Paris
Métro: Jacques Bonsergent
Tel: +33 (0)9 83 50 84 94 (but no reservation, at least not for lunch)
Daily except Sun/Mon, lunch 12.00pm-3.00pm, dinner 7.00pm-10.30pm

Category: Food & Drink, Paris

Tagged: , , , , , , , ,

4 scribbles & notes

  1. med says:

    More like fusion korean asian food hehehe….Emily loves enamel too…and she is starting a collection of it…amongst other stuff she collects as part of her kitchen *sweat*

    • Lil says:

      I’d say more Asian than fusion. Hehe… I am not collecting anything now, just trying to keep things minimalist, considering how small an apartment we got here!

  2. Mason says:

    Thanks for this one! It looks terrific, putting it on the list for our next visit.

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