“It was the first time I tasted pasta al nero di seppia, and gnocchi with sage butter, and grilled mantis shrimp.” Paris native Julien Prayderol is telling me about La Batua, a long-since-shuttered Venetian restaurant in Paris. “My dad lives out of town, and we went there for the first time when I was 12 or 13. It blew my mind.”
A former rapper, record label owner, and self-proclaimed King of the Blends, Prayderol is better known as Teki Latex. One of the most fearlessly (and genuinely) free-spirited selectors working in clubs today, Latex seems to redefine what DJing can and should be every time he steps up to the decks.
Listen to mixes like this year’s The Naked King, or his 2016 masterpiece 100% Radio Hits and you’ll hear a DJ with a voracious appetite for entwining the unexpected. ABBA singles sit next to warped avant-grime workouts, percussive club tracks find themselves bumping into pitched-up Italo disco oddities. They’re kaleidoscopic snapshots of a creative mind that works at 200MPH, channeled through a pair of hands that make magic happen.
He’s also a walking encyclopedia of what to eat and where in one of the world’s finest cities for food. Which is handy.
Latex describes the discovery of a high-end spot in Les Halles as a turning point in his gustatory education. Like most teenagers, he was reliant on parental financial support when it came to eating out, but a few years on, having begun to DJ and rap as part of his recently-reformed group TTC, he stumbled upon Pharamond. Describing it as “a super over the top restaurant that had a major banquet feeling,” he recalls eating “huge veal kidneys, andouillettes bigger than my arm, full on roasted Bresse chickens, matured meat, lots of game, young partridge cooked in a special oven, grouse, that kind of thing. That restaurant was nuts, and ever since the staff changed there’s been a big hole in my culinary life”
While he may lament the loss of a once-cherished restaurant, Teki, like most Parisians, knows how to fill a hole better than anyone. I have been lucky enough to dine with him in Paris a few times, and those dinners usually take place at an out-of-the-way place in Le Marais: Miznon. The pitta specialists fuse Israeli and French cuisine and the result is unreal. Think heavenly breads stuffed with succulent boeuf Bourguignon, whole heads of plancha-grilled cauliflower, and Teki’s personal favourite; the sharp, salty broad beans that he “eats like popcorn.” You’ll find yourself doing the exact same. Trust me.
When he’s not taking friends for a flatbread, you might catch Latex and his fellow DJs slurping down ramen at Ippudo, near the Étienne Marcel metro station. “If you’re willing to wait in the queue—which is never THAT long—there are big tables where all your friends can sit.” His advice is to get the akamaru tamago and the bao buns. Latex—who I think it’d be fair to say is somewhat of a Japanophile—rates it as the best ramen in the city. The other places that make up his personal hit list are Hakata Choten, Dosanko Larmen, Kodawari, and Ito Chan. If it’s sushi you’re after, he’ll point you towards Montparnasse restaurant Toritcho. Oh, and for a taste of the “only place outside of the motherland that manages to bring out authentic Japanese flavours,” make a reservation at Momoka in Pigalle.
Paris, as anyone who’s hopped over on the Eurostar will tell you, is an expensive city. Which is why you’d do well to have a gastro-hunter like Teki at your side as you stumble out of the Gare du Nord clutching a €12 pastry from a platform-side Paul. “In my opinion the cheapest and best restaurant in Paris is Bouillon Pigalle,” he says. “It is so cheap you can eat like a king for 15 euros. Max.”
Latex also recommends avoiding the lunchtime rush and heading down mid-afternoon for some seriously good egg mayonnaise. If you can’t get a seat there, there’s always Le Grande Bol, his favourite Chinese restaurant in Belleville. Gigantic portions, reasonable prices—job done.
If you’re in Paris with some actual money in your pocket, follow your nose and head up to Teki’s beloved 15th Arrondissement. He’s lived by the Left Bank his whole life, and when we asked him where to head for a proper blow-out he didn’t hesitate to sing the praises of Le Grand Pan. “It isn’t that the place is particularly expensive, but you’re going to want to share two or three of their famous veal, pork, or beef ribs. And those aren’t cheap. But trust me; it’s outrageously good and you’ll feel like you’re tucking into a banquet straight out of Asterix.”
If you are fortunate enough to end up in the French capital with Teki on your arm, one thing’s for sure: you’re going to eat some of the best food you’ll ever, ever taste. An incredible DJ, a wonderful host, and a truly impeccable gourmand. Teki Latex, we salute you.