Thursday, May 14, 2015

HERO, Korean drunk food bar, Paris, / The Show must go on? / Last legs

Paris is going through a bit of a renaissance lately as any quick scan of local food blogs and trendy websites has been telling you over the months. Coffee house trends, so ubiquitous elsewhere have finally come to Paris, as has casual dining in myriad forms, artisanal cocktail bars, and all forms of comfort food concepts, mostly by expats craving what they couldn't get before, or misguided hipster French 20/30 somethings who spent two weeks in Brooklyn and had a visionary idea of something already businessed out of existence in it's originating country (everyone's an expert). That being said, Paris, too often oscillating between fierce, stubborn culinary pride or adaptation of shitty concepts from abroad, has gotten a bit of its mojo back.

With the rise in cool and interesting places and the runaway train of social media platforms, this means that there are more local "insiders" and "experts" covering these places, the vast majority fawning over bagels and avocado toast, and in general, like stated above, "being an expert".

One of the reasons I haven't been blogging much lately is because I abhor being associated with the above pack of mediocre chroniclers (who I predate by ten years on the internets), and because, I think, since the advent of twitter and Instagram, blogging just doesn't mean much anymore. That, and the fact that the vast majority of my time over the last couple of years has been dedicated to an amazing book project that will see the light of day soon, and has been sapping my energy like a sexy vampire mistress. Therefore, I'm debating whether to let this blog just peter out proudly. Go on to bigger and better places. Good writing is good writing right, wherever it appears?

I was musing over all this the other day between bites of Korean fried chicken and shots of shoju at the new Hero place , located on the rue Saint Denis right off of Strasbourg Saint Denis and perpendicular, funnily enough, to a KFC. The neighbourhood, on the edge of the French garment district Le Sentier, and formerly one of the grottier areas in Paris, has been bobofied and contains some of Paris' more interesting places in close proximity (52, Frenchie, Frenchie Bar a Vins, Frenchie To Go, Le Syndicat, etc etc). The fruit of Carina Soto Velasquez-Tsou, Adam Tsou her husband and partner Joshua Fontaine, this narrow two level graffitied bar/restaurant is one of the better concepts to have opened this year, and has hit the ground running, with a great vibe due no doubt to the clientele, comprised mostly of industry people (barmen, chefs, foodie groupies..) and of the culinary vision of Canadian/Romanian/Chinese chef Haan Palcu- Chang, whose fusion-y comfort food very much put their other establishment Le Marie Celeste on the map (Haan, unfortunately, will be leaving Paris soon to "consult" ). The ambiance is clubby and chummy, the cocktails original, the Korean beer chilled and dishes like kimchi mac and cheese, open-faced pork buns, and of course the dense fried chicken satisfying and just what you want at that very moment. Just like this restaurant, which of course draws from the Korean drunk food culture, but doesn't come off as being concepty in any way, just a lot of fun. And where you want to be. Despite the latest wave of foodistas snapping away at every plate on the table next door.

The charming Carina and her delicious chicken

289 rue Saint Denis, 75002, Paris