I have a pal whose extensive network of friends never ceases to astound me. He knows everyone, and I’m not longer surprised to hear him say things like, “I’m having lunch at l’Astrance tomorrow with the world’s foremost expert on fruit,” or “Back when I was living with those squatters in the 9th for my dissertation research,” or “I taught English to the guy who used to make the noodles here and now he’s going to Harvard.”
This last one would explain why everyone who works at Happy Nouilles was so thrilled to see this friend, who I’ll just call Bacon (à la six degrees of Kevin) when we walked in a few weeks ago. The thing is, he only ever gets this kind of reception. “Bacon! La tarte au citron comme d’habitude?!” “Bacon! I was just talking to my aunt in Sri Lanka and she says hello!” “Bacon! The Obamas were sorry they missed you when they were in town!” Alright, that last one is a little far fetched but give it time. He’s not even 30 yet.
Bacon likes food. We once shared a mille feuille, tarte aux poires, tarte au citron, and Paris-Brest before dinner (evidence here). Lest you think his nickname has anything to do with his physique, I will tell you that A, I would never be so mean and that B, Bacon’s belly is way, way too lean to produce decent bacon.
I mentioned l’Astrance and fancy pastries above, but Bacon’s true area of culinary expertise is eating on the cheap.
You would think, just a few days after returning from Hong Kong, that I’d be interested in eating something besides noodles. You would be wrong. It is a rare bowl of noodles – Chinese, Japanese, Thai, or Vietnamese – that does not prompt me to say, “I could eat this every day,” and while I did not envy the romantic dilemma that Mrs. Chen found herself in In The Mood for Love, I did envy her that special pail she took to be filled up with steaming soup at that little dive down the stairs. So when Bacon suggested we go to Happy Nouille, who was I to say no?
Happy Nouille, like another one of my favorites, Pâtes Vivantes, specializes in hand thrown noodles, which you can observe being made, a kinetic mass of gluten being tossed and stretched like taffy. It’s pretty neat.
I normally get Szechuan style beef but when I told him this Bacon looked at me strangely, as though he suddenly he wasn’t sure if we could be friends anymore. He said he only ever gets the #4, which is ground pork in a spicy miso broth. It’s what I’ll get from now on, too. He also convinced me to steer from the vermicelli I usually order my soup with and try the “filaments de ble”, which are thicker and cut in odd lengths. Have I mentioned that Bacon is smart?
You, of course, can order whatever you want. If you’re not sure, ask Bacon, since you probably already know him too.
Happy Nouilles 95 rue Beaubourg, Paris 75003, +33 (0)1 01 44 59 31 22