"Le Palanquin is a Vietnamese restaurant at 12, rue Princesse, near St.-Germain des Pres. It is warm, welcoming, convenient, and the menu - not always the case with this extraordinary cooking, so radically different from Thai and most Chinese regional methods - is clear and easily understandable.
As always with the best of Vietnamese food, quality depends on freshness of ingredients and simplicity. In Dalat, the French-built mountain town 100 miles north of Saigon, a superb Vietnamese chef, trying to be modest in the face of my probably over-egged compliments, told me his job was not to "cook" - ergo, possibly transform - what nature provided. He just wanted to encourage them to be what they are, human assistance only being called for to cut, peel, trim, see that temperatures were strictly watched, and so on.
This is understatement of heroic proportions - as if Vermeer had said he just painted things as he saw them, no big deal.
Of course in reality it takes a confident genius and a very sophisticated craftsman to do what the Dalat chef described. But it is a real-life characterization of the Vietnamese approach, and you will find it at Le Palanquin. Smile a lot, say you need advice, listen, and - for visitors - for heaven's sake don't be misled by menus you've seen in US restaurants. I cannot count the times I've hopefully visited so-called Vietnamese restaurants there and been offered a mish-mash of weird Americanized "Chinese" dishes."
Le Palanquin • 12 rue Princesse
01 43 29 77 66