Right when I thought I’d never find decent Chinese food in Paris (after having visited countless épiceries where they kindly microwave plastic-wrapped Chinese food…), I discovered: Tang Frères and the treasures of the 13th arrondissement.
I was in heaven when I stepped out of the Porte d’Ivry metro stop. The plethora of authentic Chinese restaurants, grocery stores, and boulangeries chinoises, enticed me to eat and buy all afternoon.
However, one grocer I took particular liking for was Tang Frères. This Asian market has been around since 1981, when two brothers moved to Paris from Laos and decided to open up the first of their supermarkets on avenue d’Ivry (wiki).
Thirty six years later, the market is still running, providing authentic imported ingredients to hungry, customers, both foreign and French.
When I arrived at Tang Frères, with the help of iPhone Maps, I entered into the first of two grocery stores that are right next to one another.
After walking the aisles and observing the products of Tang Frères n° 1, I was slightly disappointed. Yes, they had ingredients for Asian cuisine, but it was not truly what I expected. Especially because I am familiar with Paris Store, another Asian market just next door to Tang Frères, which had a much larger selection of goods.
As I was leaving Tang Frères n° 1, I made a slight right and walked a bit down the street, past the produce vendors, where I discovered Tang Frères n° 2.
When I entered this Tang Frères emporium that was endowed with a larger market, a food stand called “Tang Gourmet,” a refreshments stand, and a flower shop, I finally understood what people had been raving about.
The smell of the roasted Peking duck at Tang Gourmet alone instantly intrigued me and made me want to explore the rest of the market.
I was happy to see some of my Chinese food favorites, like frozen xao long baos (soup dumplings), fresh Chinese noodles, and pork buns that I hadn’t found since I’ve been abroad in Paris the last three years!
I was also pleased to see the variety of people who were shopping for, and are therefore fond of, Asian foodstuffs. I heard many languages being spoken in the market by people of all ages.
I would recommend Tang Frères, and more generally the 13th arrondissement, to anyone who is a fan of Chinese culture and Asian cuisine. A visit to this part of Paris will reveal a culture that travelers are initially unaware of in what sometimes seems, at first glance, to be a very homogeneous city.
About the author: Samantha Gilliams is a Wells International Foundation summer intern.