As I moved to Aix-en-Provence just last summer, I have had only a short period of time to really experience the vibe of this Southern-French city. However, I did have the chance to test some local restaurants before the pandemic restrictions were put in place again. I’d like to start sharing with you some of my restaurant discoveries and favorite ethnic food stores, in hopes that we all will be able to enjoy our local food and shopping scene very soon!
When living in New York, I had a soft spot for Vietnamese food. No need to explain that I was eager to find authentic Vietnamese when I arrived in Aix. One of my favorites is Tonkin Food restaurant. I was pleasantly surprised by the chef’s specialties, particularly one from the North of Viet-Nam: Cha La Lot. It is tasty slices of pork belly, scented with lemongrass, shallots, wrapped with a betel leaf. Another is the Cha Ca Hanoi, a rare yet iconic dish in Hanoi, that has been listed by CNN as one of the 1,001 dishes to eat before you die! It is made up fried fish fillets marinated in saffron and dill, served with rice vermicelli, grilled peanuts and herbs.
Japanese cuisine is one of my daughter’s favorites, and there are already three places that make our mouth water in anticipation! First is the restaurant Koï where we enjoyed several delicious meals in September. When you first arrive, you will remark a gorgeous wall decoration in the entrance. This attention to detail continues through every dish and cocktail! Everything tastes delicious and we especially like their vegetarian sushi roll. If you look to spend a truly remarkable evening, reserve your spot at the chef counter to see an incredible show and to be served directly by the chef.
My second recommendation for Japanese cuisine is a place dedicated to the universe of artisanal iced mochi and daifuku. Atelier du Mochi is owned by a couple who fell in love with the Japanese culture and created a place that offers an opportunity to enjoy this delicate desert made with the rice flour. Their delightful treats follow the traditional techniques they learned in Japan.
My final recommendation in this category is Yojisu, a hidden gem. The restaurant is situated inside an industrial zone, out of the city center, but is worth the search! The first time I entered, what seemed to be a casual sushi restaurant, I was astonished by a beautiful interior and attached Japanese market. It was a wonderful discovery! If you like to cook Asian food at home, you can find ingredients, beverages, and even beautiful ceramic bowls made in Tokyo, all while waiting your order! I can’t wait to eat onsite when restaurants open again.
I will finish this first volume of my favorite foreign culture findings with Argentinian Empanadas Club. As the name suggests, this restaurant sells empanadas with their chimichurri sauce! Street food that you can easily eat in the closest park, Pavilion Vendôme. They offer a variety of flavors. The three vegetarian options are very tasty and I also tried one with spicy shredded beef. Though I typically stick to vegetarian cuisine, this beef empanada made me want to run back for another one! There is also an empanada made with chocolate dough, filled with hazelnut paste and banana, a perfect desert on go!
About KITNDO: Although this platform was primarily built to be used by people living abroad to help them to find and to share resources related to their home country, it is also a great tool for everyone who desires to discover different cultures locally! If you would like to share your findings, please feel free to add them directly on the platform by clicking on Add new place (or +). You can also add there your comments and pictures for places I just shared in this post. Thank you!
By Martina Hornakova, Founder of KITnDO