Reyna [11ème]

Okay, so I am taking a break from the lazy, non-posting of this latter part of my vacation to bring you the report of Reyna. I forgot my phone at home (Read: definitely on vacation), so I have no pictures. We were two people; we shared 6 dishes (including one dessert). We agreed we were stuffed before the dessert and could have ordered one less dish, but we refused to even begin a discussion of what we might have left off our menu. And then we also had to have dessert. Banana spring rolls with two accompaniments: a peach compote and a salty caramel creamy concoction. The group of five young French hipsters at the next table (scarfing down everything on the menu, as far as I could see), asked me what that caramel-creamy stuff was, and deadpanned, I responded, “Crack.” Their English was quite good, but it took a minute, and then they exploded in laughter, knowing exactly what I meant. And when they started to eat their dessert, they were waving their spoons and nodding in my direction.

Reyna is a “Filipino-fusion” cuisine, and my cousin and I savored every mouthful of this incredibly delicious, creative, inventive meal. We started with a kind of tuna Ceviche that looked quite simple and refreshing. It was certainly refreshing but complex in the sense that every bite involved different taste buds and a lingering, changing experience in my mouth. There were bits of pink grapefruit, pomegranate seeds, slivers of raw fennel, and a sauce that seemed maybe to have some coconut milk and some heat in it.

We shared a bowl (big bowl) of rice (this is a no bread restaurant) that was yellow, perhaps with turmeric and crunchy bits (maybe fried garlic) on top that we ate with the rest of the dishes:

Cauliflower a deep brown (not crispy) but deep flavor. Not my favorite vegetable, but this was just incredibly tasty. Surprising how yummy.

Fried chicken. Okay, we had read going in that this was a specialty, so we ordered it, but not something either of us walk across the street to eat usually. We had a choice of three preparations and two sizes (3 or 5 pieces). The waitress who helped us order said she likes fried chicken so she would order 5, and so we did. They are wing pieces, and 5 was right for us. Although I realized later that we might have ordered two 3 piece portions and gotten to taste a different sauce. Still, I think we found what we got extraordinary and wouldn’t have wanted to trade a bite. We got the middle sauce with one spicy pepper next to it, so some heat, but not the three alarm fire that was the third choice. We would walk across many streets to eat this chicken again.

Next we had crispy pork belly with roasted potatoes and tomatoes. Another very delicious dish. The potatoes were not crispy, but extremely flavorful. I don’t know with what, but insanely good. (All these dishes had incredible sauces…this one was orange colored, and we didn’t know what it was, but maybe slightly tomato in flavor, hard to tell.)

Finally the Fish dish. A “lieu jaune” (all the could tell us when we asked was it is a “white” fish) with ginger/lemongrass/chili sauce (again with some coconut milk, I think), topped with crispy leeks. Wow! We loved it.

The main waiter is a character: jolly, friendly, happy for you to enjoy the food. I stopped to speak with the chef Erica after, who is young and very modest, and again really happy to have people enjoying her food. She is looking to open a second place in the Marais or nearby, more “street food” and take away, hopefully in time for the Olympics next summer. Two seatings a night at this restaurant. This is not slow food, white table clothes, but a small modern room; a communal table at one end, and brisk service. When the dishes are ready, they are on your table. We ate every bite. With a bottle of Rosé (a great choice with help from the waiter), before tip, it came to about 160 euros.