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Mar 27, 2010 07:19 PM

Good Chinese places in Paris?

As I'm still planning (and try to cram) as many destinations within Paris during my 5-night stay, I would like to ask you knowledgeable Chowhounders as to where are good places for Chinese food? Or where are the good Chinese markets to peruse through in Paris? I'm curious as to the atmosphere or "feel" would be any different as to what I've seen or experienced in New York (where I'm from), Hong Kong, or Toronto?


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  1. Both the astmosphere and food will be pretty different from New York, Hong Kong and Toronto -- which themselves are pretty different from one another, aren't they?

    There are two neighborhoods: around Belleville, and between rue de Tolbiac and porte de Vitry, porte de Choisy. The latter one is the bigger Chinatown. In it, several places are worth visiting. My favs are still Likafo, delicious Cantonese, quite cramped; Asia Palace, karaoke place with good dim sums and rotisserie; Pho 14, open all day every day, for a gigantic bowl of Pho; Yong, rue de la Colonie (outside Chinatown per se) for excellent Shandong cuisine; Tricotin for dim sums. I tried the big one inside the Massena mall on recent hound recommendations. It was fun but no better than Likafo. Its main appeal is that it is gigantic, has fresh oysters and seafood, dimsum carts etc.

    Then there are the "fancy Chinese", which in my opinion are part and parcel of Paris' gastronomic scene, but I'm very lonely on this board in this regard. My favs are Chen, Passy Mandarin and Tong Yen. There's also Vong, Tang (extraordinary wine list), Tan Dinh (even more extraordinart wine list), Lac Hong (extraordinary Vietnamese food).

    You'll hear a lot of "one doesn't come to Paris for Asian food" and "Asian food in Paris isn't as authentic/good as it is on the West Coast". I disagree with both. As a Parisian foodie, Chinese restaurants are part of my main resources, and clearly one of the best budget-conscious options. I would however acknowledge that they don't constitute a reason to come to Paris.

    16 Replies
    1. re: souphie

      Re Soup's recs, I would add Mirama on rue St Jacques. There is a Paris Chinese resto syndrome. all of them have a huge War&Peace menu, but even the best ones have only a few good dishes. A good dimsum place would usually not have good soups. A good soup place would have have good dimsum, etc. at Mirara, stick to the soups, ginger chicken, stuffed tofu, fried noodles, the laqué dishes. Better go for early or late meal time. It does not take reservation and the queue outside is discouraging (or encouraging?).
      Pho 14 on Soup's list is excellent. It is Viet Namese.

      I wonder if Soup had meant to include Les Délices de Shandong for Shandong cuisine. 88 Boulevard de l'Hôpital. This ur-authentic place is a fave for all former expats and journalists who had lived a long time in China, esp around Shandong. Better reserve.

      For somewhat chébran Chinese:
      There is a new Taiwanese place, called 37m2, on rue Rodier, makes Malay style satays (but not too spicy) and Taiwanese style pearl tea. Quite good.

      For fancy Chinese:
      Aux Mandarins on n°1 rue de Berri is a very good Sichuan-Shanghai place. It is frequented by both mainland Chinese AND Taiwanese diplomats, c'est dire.
      Aux Mandarins also has the merit for being a good eatery on the Champs which is otherwise pathetic for eats. Tip: the restaurant keeps a couple of dishes "hors carte". Ask the maître d about them.

      1. re: Parigi

        Les Délices du Shandong is very good, but Yong is, in my opinion, better.

        1. re: souphie

          I'm no expert on Chinese food i Paris, having long since been put off by the fungible stuff traiteurs feature and my habit of not eating "ethnic" food unless seized by an unavoidable impulse but my one experience at Shandong was not the mind-blowing one all my (French) friends recount. To play the snob card, Paris IMHO simply is not Hong Kong, Shanghai, San Francisco or even New York.

          1. re: John Talbott

            @John, I know that French or Parisian Chinese food isn't the best Chinese food (Hong Kong has the best dim sum in the world, IMO) because of where it is and I know it would be influenced by its location.

            I am Chinese but willing to try it just because I'm in Paris and want to know and get a taste, literally, of the local cultures.

            1. re: chocokitty

              "I know that French or Parisian Chinese food isn't the best Chinese food (Hong Kong has the best dim sum in the world, IMO) because of where it is and I know it would be influenced by its location"

              Despite what I said above I find some ethnic food in France having a terrific spin on what I've had elsewhere because of the products found here (excepting Bertie's attempt at Brit food).

              One Chinese place I really think is special however is Shan Gout, 22, rue Hector Malot in the 12th,, closed Mondays, a la carte about 30 €,

            2. re: John Talbott

              I agree with Souphie...even though he does omit the third, smallest, yet oldest Parisian Chinatown which is to be found around the rue de Volta in the 4th. Nobody's perfect.

              The thing I find fascinating, and which I think leads to people being disappointed when they try an cuisine that they eat at home in another country, are the bog-standard ethnic dishes you find in each country. In Chinese restaurants in the US, you always find General Tso's chicken and sesame noodles, which you never see in England, but where they always serve fried seaweed and weird and frightening sweet and sour pork. In the US again, Japanese restaurants always seem to have fried ice cream, which I've never seen outside of continental America.

              All that to say that even though the results of this culinary transhumance can sometimes seem frightening (poutine anyone?), the things that can happen to "ethnic" culinary traditions when they travel are often delicious (Vietnamese sandwiches, Kasutera cake, cheese nans), instructive (it's like eating history) and fun.

              1. re: vielleanglaise

                I thought the 4th chinatown was the one on rue de l'Evangile near the Marx Dormoy metro in the 18th. OK, which one is the 5th? :-)
                I quite like the rue de l'Evangile chinatown with its terrace cafés and a generally less intense atmosphere.
                Chocokitty, if you can handle Mandarin or Cantonese, here is one last address for you: Q-Tea on a very charming corner of the 9th, on rue Notre Dame de Lorettes between metros St Georges and NDd Lorettes. 2 young Chinese just opened this, serving very authentic Taiwanese homecooking dishes.
                I don't mean to withhold this address from non-Chinese CHs, pls forgive me. But they just opened and are not that well rôdés. For example, they make everything from scratch, which is excellent. But they sometimes misjudge the time it takes, because of their lack of experience. If you also speak Chinese, you eliminate that kind of misunderstanding. For example, I ordered Cong You Bing (蔥油餅, galettes aux ciboules), a nan-like sidedish. The order took so long I finally had it as takeout after the meal. (And it was faaab !) Now you see why I hesitate to recommend this for general consumption…
                They also make very good Taiwan-style pearl tea, much better than the branché Zenzoo. They make a dish called "Chicken 3 cup" that is excellent, with 5 spices and more, that I have never tasted anywhere else. I think it's their own family dish. Another thing they do well that one may not think of ordering in a Chinese resto is their curry. They have about 4 tables and the salle really looks very nice but not that attractive from the outside, duh !
                19, Rue Notre-Dame de Lorette, 75009 Paris; tel:0155320468

                1. re: Parigi

                  Parigi, I would visit these two establishments. Thank you!

                  My best friend, who is coming with me, loves bubble tea! (I'm on the fence with the bubble tea just because I'm a tea purist unless we're talking about English tea.) If it's warm enough in late May, we're going to visit Zenzoo.

                  As for the dishes you've mentioned from those establishments, I'm very familiar with them (I was raised with these dishes.)

                  1. re: chocokitty

                    Q-Tea is practically next door to 2 interesting dark-horse kind of museums, musée Gustave Moreau and musée de la vie romantique.
                    I don't think Zenzoo is worth patronizing. Dunno which is worse, the bubble tea or the service. :-(
                    If you are serious about tea, a very good tea house with simple good MSG-free dishes in St Germain is Tcha, 6 Rue du Pont de Lodi. 01 43 29 61 31‎

                    1. re: Parigi


                      Is Zenzoo that bad? We found it by accident while buying chocolate at Michel Cluizel. One of the employees was drinking boba and we asked where he got it from. At first we went into the wrong zen, a real shop haha. My wife is Taiwanese and chatted with them for awhile and bought some tea leaves there. Then we went to zen zoo for boba. I thought it was good except for the prices. The service was fine, maybe cos my wife spoke to them in Chinese. Boba is cheap in Los Angeles, but in Taiwan, it's around $1USD! We'll have to try Q-tea on our next trip to Paris :)

                      1. re: dlew308

                        Indeed the boba tea there is not bad. Food notso-hotso and expensive for what it is. Service? Actually they have always been nice enough to me. I also speak Mandarin. But I saw how they treat some customers and it is not acceptable. Maybe - let's hope - they have improved.

                2. re: vielleanglaise

                  I take your comments personally vielleanglaise! LOL

                  Yes, there are many Chinese restaurants in the US which serve poor quality or anti-quality food (sweet and sour anything tends to be horrendous in most US Chinese restaurants) but for many of us on this board, we seek out authentic, higher quality but often inexpensive spots. Our expectations may be based on what we are familiar with, but quality and authenticity are not the issue. One of the issues, not a problem to me because I don't have to have exactly the same dishes that I have at home, is that China is a huge country representing many cuisines. However, if I find a style that I don't know that is well represented in quality and authenticity, I'm almost always quite happy.

                  I am a bit spoiled because I have Chinese friends with strong opinions about their Chinese food in the US and we've shared many meals together, at their restaurants and others.

                  PS - and I'd also recommend staying away from Japanese restaurants that serve fried ice cream, or at least staying away from the fried ice cream!

                  1. re: vielleanglaise

                    General Tso's Chicken is, by the way, a dish of Hunanese origin. I haven't been to L'Orient d'Or (rue de Trévise) but the chef is from Hunan, looks impressively classy when he grills a cigarette on the sidewalk between services, and is supposed to churn out a very convincing version of that dish.

                    One detail that seems to play in favor of the restaurant is that they do serve Chairman' Mao's Favorite Dish, a delicious though weirdish concoction of smoked pork belly, whole garlic cloves, dried green beans and chilli that you have to order in advance. That is something I have only found in mainland China so far.

            3. re: souphie

              Thanks for the recommendations, Souphie!

              Quick question in relation to Vietnamese food, where would you get a very good banh mi sandwich?

              1. re: chocokitty

                For banh mi, look at the comments on this thread

                I like the ones on the rue Volta, though I still haven't been able to go back to check if I got the address right.

                1. re: vielleanglaise

                  According to the "spotted" site, the bahn mi place is indeed on 7 rue Volta (but not the Sichuan place of course). It's tattooed on my brain…

            4. Souph has covered it. We all have different tastes and opinions on Paris Asian.

              Gastro Chinese in Paris is its own thing, and I have never had a bad meal at Chen. No big bowl of noodle soup with roast duck there, however.

              For pho and Vietnamese standards, I like the small joints in the Paris Store mall at Av. d'Ivry.

              4 Replies
              1. re: Busk

                "Gastro Chinese"

                Hilarious. Gastro in French slang means gastro-enteritis.

                1. re: Parigi

                  Usage: "J'étais gastro du gastro chinese j'ai fait hier soir..."

                  1. re: Busk

                    I hope I don't get kicked off here for this, but I once saw translated on a menu "Le coq au vin du chef" as "The chef's cock cooked in red wine."

                    Yum yum.

              2. We like Le Canton 5 rue Gozlin in the 6th. And, they are open on Monday. We especially like their their seafood soups, apetizers and main dishes.

                1. Tried Likafo on this board's suggestion, and it was pretty bad. Decent wonton soup, but the rest was sloppy American Chinese, despite the mostly Chinese clientele. Still looking!

                  2 Replies
                  1. re: cassata_gal

                    Well, as usual, I still stand by Likafo. It is really good as long as you order the right things. As in many other places really.

                    1. re: Ptipois

                      Went to Likafo again, just for verification — it was better than ever.

                      If the negative reports I read from time to time are for real, either I am lucky and keep walking beside the manholes while looking up, or the reports are written by people who actually don't like Cantonese food.

                  2. Great thread. A followup question:

                    A recent New Yorker article about Chinese package tours of Europe includes a description of some of the places the tour groups stop to eat in Paris. The only clues to the location of the places described below are that they're a short walk from the drop-off point for a Seine boat tour, and also a short walk from Galeries Lafayette.

                    The following doesn't sound terribly alluring, but I don't mind a hole-in-the wall as long as it's reasonably clean and the food is good.

                    Does this sound familiar to anyone? If so, worth seeking out?

                    "We followed Li into a small Chinese storefront, down a flight of stairs, and into a hot, claustrophobic hallway flanked by windowless rooms jammed with Chinese diners. It was a hive of activity invisible from the street, a parallel Paris. There were no empty seats, so Li motioned for us to continue out the back door, where we turned left and entered a second restaurant, also Chinese. Down another staircase, into another windowless room, where dishes arrived: pork braised in brown sauce, bok choy, egg-drop soup, spicy chicken."


                    16 Replies
                    1. re: Mr F

                      I read the same article and liked it very much but did not get the idea that those eateries were walking distance to the Seine boat dropoff (which itself could be the 16th or the 1st arrondissement or Canal St Martin) or were any good.
                      Could you give me more indications about the address?

                      I was dragged once to the rue de Provence where a dozen Chinese restos have sprung up in recent years catering to the tour groups that go to the Galeries Lafayette (Chinese name: Old Buddha, Lao Fo-ye) and Printempts department stores, to what is supposed to be the best of the bunch, and it was on the low end of average.
                      I strongly urge you not to try those eateries that cater to the least imaginative, least adventuresome, culinarily ethno-centric travellers.

                      But if you absolutely must go to a Chinese eatery no matter what, you are welcome to sacrifice yourself for our greater good and report back.

                      1. re: Parigi

                        For clues to the location (should have quoted this in the first place, sorry):

                        "The boat docked, and we headed to dinner, walking through the crowds and din of the city for the first time." (There's no indication of how long they walked, but as you know from the article it probably wouldn't have been long or far -- too much time wasted.)


                        "Twenty minutes later, we climbed the stairs out into the night, hustling after Li down the block to the Galeries Lafayette, the ten-story department store on the Boulevard Haussmann."

                        So it certainly sounds like rue de Provence could be the location for this 20-minute dinner.

                        "I strongly urge you not to try those eateries that cater to the least imaginative, least adventuresome, culinarily ethno-centric travellers."

                        Point taken. My thinking was that since these tours seem to be so hermetic, maybe these restaurants are as authentically Chinese as it gets. (Here in Montreal, the best Chinese restaurants tend to be newer holes-in-the-wall opened by and catering to recent immigrants from Mainland China, not the familiar, well-established places.)

                        But based on your report, we'll probably skip it. Or maybe temptation will get the better of us, in which case I'll be sure to report back...

                        Either way, thanks for the reply.

                        1. re: Mr F

                          Chinese sweatshop-style eateries in Paris, now that's something new to investigate!

                          1. re: Ptipois

                            It does seem odd, admittedly.

                            We're very much interested in French food (I'm getting most of of the info I need on that by lurking here and researching elsewhere), but our Paris visit is at the tail end of a high-calorie European odyssey, so a change of pace might be welcome.

                            Of course, it isn't a worthwhile change of pace if the quality isn't there.

                            As for the sweatshop aspect, unfortunately that's a fact of life in huge swaths of the restaurant industry, surely not just windowless-basement Chinese restaurants. But I suppose it's proper to avoid it where it's glaringly obvious.

                            1. re: Mr F

                              There is, was a great resto, Au Mandarin, on rue de Berri that has no window. But the inside is very posh, done by the sameinterior architect as the Buddha Bar. Sort of expensive. But it is closed, I guess, for a stretch of time, as the whole building is being renovated. O I actually mentioned it upthread, the place that boasts of its "rognon du chef".

                              Once in a while I hear of great eats in the cantine of some farflung factory in the middle of nowhere in China. A real hole-in-wall-with-no-window setting sounds perversely attractive. I am sure Pti has dined sumptuously in similar shabby settings in Guangzhou or in opposite settings - open on all sides, as in the DaiPaiDong's in HK, and that may be why her ears perked up like a cat's.
                              Alas, no DaiPaiDong in Paris...

                              1. re: Parigi

                                Well most restaurants I've been to in Guangzhou, shabby or not, had windows, generally lots of them. In some cases, think Galeries Lafayette complete with 7 stories, but all of them are the restaurant.
                                The old buildings in the Liwan district, though, have one large entrance leading into a windowless space, but you don't notice it because it's brightly lit and there's the dim sum taking all of your attention. They're institutions though, not actually holes in the wall.
                                In Paris the Mandarin Opéra (was that the name?) which closed recently was almost windowless but for a small skylight. You entered it from a corridor lobby on boulevard des Capucines. Few places in Paris had such good Cantonese food. The place had been around for ages, there was nothing new about it.

                                Edit to add: not sure it has closed, really. I didn't check that myself. Could someone confirm?

                                1. re: Ptipois

                                  "In Paris the Mandarin Opéra (was that the name?) which closed recently was almost windowless but for a small skylight. You entered it from a corridor lobby on boulevard des Capucines. Few places in Paris had such good Cantonese food."

                                  True. Hey don't scare me. I like that resto too.
                                  I seem to have seen it open the last time I passed by. Once upon a time there was a resto with a similar name on avenue de l'Opéra serving good soups and fried noodles, which closed a long time ago when the owner lost the resto on the gambling table.

                                  1. re: Parigi

                                    Okay then I don't think the one I'm describing is closed. I'll check at the next opportunity.

                      2. re: Mr F

                        Why do you assume the food is good? It is a low cost tour that hustles the clients from place to place - 20 minutes for dinner doesn't sound good, does it? I wouldn't search out an English restaurant in Spain visited by a bus load of British tourists: why assume a busload of PRC nationals will fare any better on a bus tour of Europe?

                        It is also worth checking out the news articles about PRC tour groups rebelling against unscrupulous tour operators - it is a growing issue.

                        1. re: PhilD

                          Why do you assume I assume the food is good?

                          I asked whether anyone had an opinion on it.

                          I did think there was potential for a positive answer not because of the clientele but because many of the better Chinese restaurants where I live are rather unassuming holes-in-the-wall.

                          The original article did not make it completely clear to me that the places described cater mainly to the package-tour crowd; there was still the possibility that they actually cater primarily to a local community, but the tour groups go there simply for something familiar. (I suppose to someone intimately familiar with Paris geography, this aspect might be obvious -- yet another reason to ask.)

                          1. re: Mr F

                            Indeed if one talks about a Chinese hole in the wall, (un boui-boui, my fave word in French), it always sounds good, not bad, to me. This is my prejudice, not Mr F's. In fact, if I see a very posh-looking Chinese restaurant, right away I suspect that it must not be very good.

                            1. re: Parigi

                              That's close to my thoughts and prejudices. Even if I wasn't exactly "assuming" good quality, I was certainly hoping to hear that there are gems there, and I admit the unpleasantness of the surroundings is part of what piqued my curiosity.

                              The disappointment is minor, of course. It's nice to know that there are good options should we crave Chinese while in Paris, it doesn't matter if these particular places are no good.

                              1. re: Parigi

                                I tend not to take such a singular view; possibly because there are plenty of very average holes in wall here in Hong Kong. Generally I also find the concept doesn't really travel that well so have a high degree of cynicism that cheap Asian food, outside of Asia is really good Asian food.

                                That said I see lots of tour groups being shepherded into restaurants in many cities across the world, the common factor is cheap and fast not quality. I do feel particularly sorry for the PRC tourists as they are generally herded to the worst places and often have to endure endless shopping "opportunities" (as tour guides get commissions from shops). Thus I wouldn't recommend following the example in the article. Very sad to see it happening in Europe.

                                1. re: PhilD

                                  With more details and discussion I certainly see why the places mentioned in the article are not worth seeking out.

                                  At least in Canada, "hole-in-the-wall" often equates to recently arrived immigrants of modest means, serving food that hasn't been heavily westernized. It isn't any sort of guarantee of good quality, but the better restaurants very often fit the mould.

                                  1. re: Mr F

                                    On the other hand there are holes in the wall serving perfectly authentic food that isn't very good. Having come recently from far away does not necessarily make you a good cook. In Paris there are lots of rather mediocre Indian and Srilankan snack shops and small restaurants run by recently arrived immigrants and catering to other recently arrived immigrants. Whatever the circumstances, it takes a certain dose of talent to make a good restaurant and that also applies to holes in the wall.

                                    1. re: Ptipois

                                      Completely agree, which is why I said "It isn't any sort of guarantee of good quality".