Kapunka II, Gluten-Free Pad Thai, Paris

Ring, watch, Cartier

Recently I met my neighbors, returning from the marché, on the street outside our building. "Get anything good?" I asked.

"Only normal things," they replied.

Suddenly, the husband's eyes lit up. "You will be very interested in this. Two kilo for one euro," he said, rummaging through his panier. Somehow, I knew what was coming. He pulled out a big bag of white rice and smiled. PSA: Koreans eat multigrain rice.

I grew up corn-fed in Cleveland, but I've had enough of my family's cooking to hate watered-down, westernized Asian food at restaurants. This is partly the ethos behind Kapunka II- there weren't any authentic Thai cantines in Paris. On the recommendation of a Thai friend, we'd trek out to the 13ème to a crowded place run by a Laotian family, but the dishes had a strange sweetness and the portions were... well, very French. Kapunka II captures the spirit of our favorite places in Thonglor. Everything is fresh, spicy, and fragrant. The service is fast, the staff (especially the owner, Manu) friendly and personable, and the decor warm and minimalist. Last January, the Kapunka team toured Bangkok for inspiration, and it worked. Their healthy, gluten-free take on traditional street food is the closest you'll get to Aree in Paris.

Kapunka II is on a quiet street off Rue Montorgueil, a short walk from one of my favorite Paris' resourceries. Soon after opening, it filled up immediately with families, couples, solo diners, and a few real Asians, who seemed pleased by the beautiful dishes piled high amidst spices. My husband lived in Thailand and felt real disdain for some of the other diners, spotted scraping pimento into water glasses. "That's like saying 'I love French food, but hold the cheese and wine,'" he explained. We're used to Isan and Lanna food and loved their Chattuchak smoothies with generous bowls of fresh chilies in vinegar and oil, perfect on red curry, papaya salad, tom kha gai, and vegetarian Pad Thai. I didn't have room for dessert!

Kapunka II
51 Rue Saint-Sauveur
and 59 Rue de Richelieu, 75002 Paris

Paris to Go


  1. I'm half Japanese born in the US, my parents were both born in the US and speak English as a mother tongue, and for that matter so were my paternal grandparents. I'm constantly amazed at how many people assume I came from the "motherland" and don't speak English, or that my father must be Japanese too, when my last name is O'Brien! That being said, I sympathized but also laughed at the story. Sometimes you just have to laugh at the ignorance of people, no matter how well-intentioned!

  2. That is too funny Cindy! I laughed too. My maiden name was Roberts and people still asked me if my father was born in North or South Korea. Ha!

  3. Ariana you are such a tease! I thought you were going to give us a recipe for gluten-free pad thai. Oh well, I guess it means that I have a restaurant to try out if I ever make it to Paris.

    1. Hi Amber! When I make it at home I just soak rice noodles in tamarind juice with chilies, bean sprouts, peanuts and fish sauce with whatever vegetables I have around. But my husband doesn't like it, and I can't make fish sauce on my own, so I eat it when I go out, and let somebody else create the packaging waste for me- which is cheating of course!