Something good and something beautiful in a bowl, this is Holy Bol concept, a lovely canteen nestled in Passage Verdeau following Passage des Panoramas in Paris 9th arrondissement.
From the façade, nothing predicts that the canteen serves a delicious Thai cuisine: we walk to a spotless white building, with iron outdoor tables. To welcome us, a man behind the bar and the Thai cooks working hard in front of us and in the open-plan kitchen.
Prima facie, at 12:30 p.m., the 20-cover restaurant looks empty, but we’re told its “normal” and not worrying. We decide to eat on the spot and the waiter asks us to go upstairs, showing us the staircase we didn’t see earlier. And here, big shock! The room upstairs is almost already full and regulars are enjoying their lunch break. Manager Sophie explains us that it’s almost impossible to find a seat if we don’t reserve a table and that we’re lucky!
The menu is as bright and joyful as the decoration, our mouths are already watering when we see the bowls served to other tables. Since we want to taste everything, we play along: a soup and a board of delicatessen to share (€15) as starters, so it should leave us some time to make up our main.
The concept is amazing: for €16, we can create our OWN bowl starting with a base to choose between noodles, rice or Thai salad, a garnish (ground beef, red Thai curry, spicy calamari, sautéed shrimps) and gourmets can complete their bowls with spring rolls, Thai herbs omelet or sautéed eggplants for €4. And because we hate deciding, we ask Sophie what she does best. As chance would have it, she has a list of very-well working recipes: chicken or vegetable pad Thai (€17), beef and carrot bun bo and 2 spring rolls (€18), and the Bangkok bowl with green papaya, carrot, soy and sautéed calamari (€19). Bingo!
Starters arrive and… we crack up, the plate is huge, steamed vegetables, duck and shrimp dumplings, 2 spring rolls and 2 wonton dumplings per person, so far, we don’t know how we’ll make it through this lunch. It’s tasty and foreshadows a feast… Speaking of the devil, mains arrive and they are so good-looking and so so good-tasting! We enjoyed our bowls so much that we need, we must taste the house’s other recipes. Sophie is proud of the dishes she serves and of her Thai cooks.
After such a feast, Sophie tells us we ab-so-lu-te-ly must taste the homemade desserts. Mango and coconut milk soup, rose-strawberry and litchi panna cotta, chocolate eggrolls or tea/coffee with small desserts to end the meal on a sweet and rather Asian note or what about a financier, a chocolate tart or an apricot tart cooked by the pastry chef for a very French dessert!
The place is very welcoming and open nonstop from 10 a.m. Don’t worry if you want to go there in the morning of in the afternoon, you can even enjoy the pastry chef’s cakes or the “Goûter Holybol” (an afternoon break) with madeleine, financier, 3 cake slices and a hot drink for €8.
If the place looks perfect, the only fly in the ointment is that it’s located in Galerie Verdeau and has to close at 7 p.m. to respect the neighborhood (yes, some owners live WITHIN the gallery, the news shocked us too!). Don’t worry, on Thursday, Sophie negotiated to remain open at dinnertime on the condition you arrive early, before the doors close.
Website: Holybol (in French)
Address: 23 passage Verdeau, 75009 Paris
Opening hours: 10 a.m. – 4 p.m. on Monday, 10 a.m. – 7 p.m. from Tuesday to Saturday, until 10 p.m. on Thursday
Rates: starters between €6 and €15, bowls between €16 and €20, desserts between €4 and €8
Set menus at €21 for a starter and the bowl of the day, €26 for a starter, a bowl and the dessert of the day.
23 Passage Verdeau
75009 Paris 9
M° 8,9 - Grands Boulevards
Horaires : 10h-16h lundi, 10h-19h du mardi au samedi, nocturne jeudi jusqu'à 22h