Yesterday was the last day of November. Which means it’s the first day of December, a month filled with cookies, cakes, chocolate, and generally about a gazillion other forms of sugar. Hey, I’m not complaining! I’m currently suffering from cookie-baking withdrawal. It just means that I’ll have to balance out my month of sugar with some healthy veggies whenever I can. Lucky for me, I love vegetarian restaurants almost as much as I love chocolate shops.
So I decided to check out a restaurant that frequently pops up on “Paris Vegetarian restaurants” lists online. Guen Mai.
It’s a little restaurant in the 6th arrondissement that doubles as a health foods store– lots of vitamins, supplements, nut butters, seed oils, cleanses, etc. And what health foods store would be complete without a juicer?
Guen Mai is tucked into a little side-street right behind Boulevard Saint-Germain. It’s hard to miss it once you see it with it’s trellis-covered exterior, but you have to find the street first! I first stumbled upon it a few weeks ago when I was aimlessly walking through the 6th, so this time I had to make sure I knew where I was going!
The restaurant features two or three specials for the day, depending on the day. They’ll tell you what they have for the day when you walk in, but if for some chance you’re not really understanding French, the menu explains it as well. Out of the Wednesday choices– Cooked fish (macrobiotic restaurant), Tofu Ravioli, or Seitan brochette (assuming that means some sort of kebab?). I went with the Seitan brochette. Great choice.
As you can see, the plate of the day also comes with all of the other sides that are displayed in the case at the front of the store/restaurant. So I got some brown rice, tofu/rice noodles, millet, cooked onions and carrots, Dal, grated beets and carrots, and of course, the Seitan.
Naturally, I got some juice. Carrot ginger, and it hit the spot. Just look at that color!
I was starving before I went into the restaurant, so I had a hard time stopping after I finished the main plate– I was still hungry! So what to do? Get dessert, obviously.
They had a few selections of the day, mainly fruit tarts. Apple crumble, Apple/Apricot, Apple/Hazelnut, and cooked apples. I’m sensing an apple theme here, but maybe that’s just me.
I randomly chose the apple/apricot, not knowing exactly which one it was in the display case, but I was pretty sure I wouldn’t be disappointed.
Very good, but very simple. I mean, don’t base your opinion of French desserts off of the tart. But if you’re in the mood for something simply sweet, light, and healthy, then this hit the spot! Also, the restaurant managed to pull off a great flaky crust. I was impressed.
It’s not the least-expensive place, but it’s also not the most-expensive place either. And if you’re someone who believes in putting their health before their wallet (okay, if you just love good, simple, healthy food), then it’s worth it. Entrées were around 5 Euro, as were the juices. Main plates were around 10-14 Euro (mine was 12.50), and desserts were around 5 Euro.
I got to the restaurant at 1:30, and it was already bustling, though I was immediately seated (I guess the benefit of eating alone?). The crowd was mainly (okay, all) women, except for the man waiting on the tables. Based off of the way they addressed each other, I gathered that the man was married to the woman at the counter, who was also keeping an eye on their little girl.
When I asked her what Guen Mai meant, she said it was a traditional ancient rice soup from Japan. At least, I’m pretty sure that’s what she said. I made out rice, soup, and Japan.
So there you have it!
Guen Mai, 6 Rue Cardinale, 75006. Métro Mabillon (10), Saint-Germain de Près (4).