Chinese food? No chance in France!

Our beloved French capital is so incredibly self-centered that foreign cuisines above the fast food level have a hard time here. Chinese food makes no exception. Yes, you can find them all: the Lotus Gardens, the Red Dragons, the Emperor Mings and the Eight Jewels but they all serve the fried-then-drowned-in-soy-sauce-menu which unfortunately is so commonplace all over Europe. In Paris, believe me, it’s even worse. Here, the “Chinese” restaurants often go down the Pan-Asian alley, listing Chinese AND Vietnamese AND Thai AND Japanese platters on their menus, while the guy in the kitchen is in fact a Cambodian with Indian accomplices. So my recommendation to you all is to steer well clear of these highly dubious etablissements.

8000 miles away from Paris: decent Chinese food (in Beijing).

In the picture above you can see how it works: These were only the starters of an 11-course-menu I had in the Hutong area of Beijing last year. In the lovely, chaotic Family Li Imperial Cuisine restaurant the dishes came rolling in for hours and hours and I really got that grand Emperor feeling in the end. Well, don’t look for sensations alike in Paris.

The more ambitious Chinese chefs here normally go for Peking Duck and lead their guests to believe, that this was the essence of Chinese cuisine (it’s not). Restaurant Tang in the 16th arrondissement is such a place, same with Chez Vong in the 1st, near Centre Pompidou. The chefs are both excellent cooks, don’t get me wrong, but they water down the authentic recipes assuming that Europeans weren’t able to stand a real Chinese taste explosion. But that is, in the year 2010, a ridiculous assumption. I want real Chinese food! I want it now! And if you had a good address in Paris – please! please! tell me! please!


  1. QQmeister

    Great blog, I love it! It’s OK, there are no great French food in China either. I think there are good reasons as to why local food tastes the most authentic in the place where it was founded and blossomed, because it’s more than just cooking techniques and ingredients that goes to affect our tastes, the environment is also very important. Local food will always taste best eaten in the locale where it is from because it has been eaten so much there it has been perfected into art, not just by the chef but by the people who has been enjoying it for generations. Just some personal thoughts. Going try some of your recipes this week will let you know what I think after 🙂

    • Ullrich

      Yes, QQmeister,
      I guess it’s the Qi thing (or the Tao?). But still: It’s weird that a city like Paris, counting a lot of Chinese immigrants, doesn’t really have a food culture that could have followed quite naturally. Maybe the Chinese of Paris don’t eat? Or just eat croissants and pain au chocolat?

    • Ullrich

      Thank you, David,
      in fact I know that remote Chinavillage in the 3rd. A bit run down, I’d say, but yes, quite authentic soups and stuff. And there’s two decent Chinese supermarkets, too in the street you indicate. When you enter Rue au Maire coming from Rue Beaubourg, the first market on the right hand side is pretty good…

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