From the street, it doesn't look like much. A narrow corridor, nothing to catch the eye apart from a little blackboard by the door offering a 10,90 euro lunch deal.
Come inside and once your eyes have ajusted to the dim, you'll see a man on the right who is so intently playing around with his pots, pans and spices that he'll offer up a friendly "bonjour" but to ask him something meaningful, like "what am I doing here? is the meaning of life really 42?" is beyond his capacities at that present moment. This is "Chef."
Fortunately, you'll soon be rescued by a charming French lady, who'll usher you into the dining room, sit you down, and provide the answers to your most burning of questions. You're here for food, ignore the menu, just take the buffet!
That provides the cue for you to get back up and visit Chef. You are offered a sizeable bowl already half filled with rice or noodles and asked to compose your own stir-fry from the 16 or so ingredients that you walked past without realising just a few minutes ago. There'll typically be four or so varieties of meat, a vast selection of vegetables, beans, mushrooms etc which changes often too. The meat is all halal and the choice of fresh veg makes this a vegetarian's haven too! Once you have filled your bowl to the brim, you hand it over to Chef who does the honours with those pots, pans and spices. You watch as he twists, turns and flicks and as your stomach gets more and more impatient, you realise why you're there. He'll ask how spicy you want it, what particular flavours..... I reply that I'll go with his judgement and am ready to follow him to the end of the world if need be.
You end up going back to your seat with a bowl of delicious food, that you have chosen, - chosen the ingredients, chosen the spices and had it cooked before your very eyes. It actually couldn't be better.
This has fast become my favourite lunch spot in Saint Germain. And yes, the meaning of life really is 42.