I went for a drink with a friend on Monday evening and she told me about a restaurant that I knew I had to write about as soon as she paused for breath. I haven’t been there yet, but I already have a warm feeling of certainty and anticipation…it’s going to be goooood.
Chez Quan, or Le drapeau de la fidélité is a tiny bar/restaurant in the 15th arrondissement (an area which has been surprising me of late with it’s hidden inexpensive ethnic restaurants of excellent quality) just off the Rue de Vaugirard. It’s the kind of restaurant you would walk past, peer in, wonder at the scene inside, and quickly move on, embarrassed at having been caught looking.
Mr Pham Cong Quan, the owner, barman and chef, was also a philosophy teacher in his home country of Vietnam. Escaping to France as a political refugee in 1976 after being imprisoned for 6 months, he has written two philosophical essays and one novel: Un Monde Meilleur, Le Guerrier Inconnu, and Il n’y a que le Capitalisme Humanitaire. He loves nothing more than explaining his ideas, discrediting Karl Marx and telling stories. What better to accompany some good traditional food at low prices than a cheap beer and political philosophy on tap?
Along with widespread confusion about its name, online descriptions seem to struggle with attributing a genre to this “petite cantine, bistrot, bibliothèque, épicerie, fidèle au défunt empereur Bao Dai,” ending on, tout simplement “un petit bijou d’authenticitéé”.
Quan has become somewhat of a legend, and the videos on his website do a good job of capturing the story and passion behind the character.
However, as the news of this little gem spreads, the earlier you will have to get there in order to get a seat. At the moment, arriving before eight will normally see you a table. It’s not just that the prices are low, the food is especially good*.
21 rue des Copreaux, 75015
Volontaires (line 12)
*I have this from a very reputable source