Here are my top picks, all very different in terms of prices, experiences and taste. Bottom line is, good value is very important when you rate Asian restaurant so the cheapest will always have an advantage, especially for my parents’ generation, but worth trying what a 5**** hotel can offer in that space.
1. Lili at the Peninsula Hotel (Paris 16eme – Kleber)
So I decided I’d take my lovely parents out to a 5**** hotel experience. The Peninsula Paris Hotel has just been refurbished with 6 years of delicate work to beautifully the historical features and 21st century modern technology and comfort. Lili is their Cantonese Cuisine restaurant.
The decor: classy Asian meets delicate 5***** palace
I was eager to see how classy and elegant Asian restaurant decoration can be as you can very quickly and easily look like any Asian restaurant with red wooden pillars, dragons and phoenix, gold touches, red lanterns and Chinese calligraphy. Well here it was different, filled with light, featuring different Asian artefacts, ancient costumes and of course enjoying more space and beautifully dressed tables.
The food: tempting menu, disappointing dim sums and wontons
The menu is very tempting with). I had read reviews on TripAdvisor about an Asian lady taking her parents there quite often and quoting an average of 300 euros bill for the three of them so that was what I was prepared to fork out (with chopsticks this time 😉 ) to try a bit of that luxury experience.
So we went for it: crab meat and lobster dumplings, classic beautiful sea food like chilled abalone and scallops or live lobster (the one with claws) fried with ginger shallot. Taste wise we were disappointed by the dim sums and wonton as one dish served one single dim sum at a time, topped with caviar, I admit, but still. The whole fun of Asian food is the sharing isn’t it? The lobster was beautiful and all cracked open for you but we had to order noodles on the side!.
No need to explain the difference between Asian waiters in Asian restaurants and Western well trained waiters in 5**** hotels. Plus they were very knowledgeable about the cuisine, they could advise on the quantity and you didn’t have to call them for tea or water refill.
Will we go back?
Not sure. It was a nice experience, we’re glad we did it and we felt great but we didn’t eat that much and didn’t have our fix of msg 😉 The bill was a bit less than 300 euros but with no wine or alcohol, just tea.
2. Nouveau Village Tao Tao (Paris 13eme – Nationale)
Nouveau Village Tao Tao has been running since I was in my early teens. It probably changed management as the previous name was “Village Tao Tao” without the “Nouveau”. Their signature dishes are
- Peking duck with crispy skin, cut in front of you
- Caramelised deep fried apples where the caramel is poured on top of the donuts which are then dipped in ice water to make the caramel crunchy. Love that the caramel is more on the bitter side than the sweet side so it cuts through the batter and the oil. That’s also why I’d rather apple than bananas that way: it’s less sweet.
This year I found out the the owner is my friend’s wife aunty. What a small world! So we had 10% off hehe
Decor: typical mid to high end traditional Chinese restaurant
It’s not a Palace but it’s decent with double white table clothes, privacy between the tables and the whole Chinese atmosphere provided by aquariums, fountain and red lacquered stairs.
It’s really a safe option to bring colleagues there, or if you’re not too familiar with Asian food and atmosphere. It’s also quit easy to get to and the area is the well known Chinatown district of Paris. We are regulars there and we know our food so it’s a good sign.
Food: delicious and reasonably priced
We really love the fact that they bring you the roasted duck and use their magic technique to cut the skin out of the meat right in front of you. However the signature dessert is not on the menu. I had it as a favour once but not every time. Below we ordered :
- peking duck. TIPS:
- A whole duck would easily feed 6 adults. Although we were 3 adults eating it we still went for the whole one as the kids can eat a fair bit of pancakes
- Our favourite courses after the pancakes are: meat stir fried with noodles and ginger and meat stir fried with broccoli. Their broccoli is cooked just right: crunchy and soft.
- ha kao (prawn dim sums), steamed rice noodle and fried rice for the kids
- sweet and sour pork for my “white” husband (Asians don’t do sweet and sour)
Total bill probably around 120 euros including approx 80 euros for the whole duck
3. Le Pacifique (Paris 19eme – Belleville)
That’s the cheap eat in the less fancy Chinatown area of Paris. Belleville is very close to where I grew up and where my parents have been living for 40 years! It’s a real melting pot with hundreds of different nationalities. Its reputation was recently stained by a high crime rate but looks like it’s very targeted to Triads and gangs businesses. Because of the social and ethnic mix, Belleville is also very hip and trendy, I couldn’t believe it when I saw they were opening a Sephora store there!!! So if you feel a bit adventurous, go for it, have a feel of the area and have lunch at my parents’ canteen: cheap, cheerful, yummy Le Pacifique restaurant.
So when you compare the bill for the same order as Nouveau Village Tao Tao you end up with a 70 euros bill as the whole peking duck is almost half price at 48 euros. It’s definitely not as fancy, the service is friendly but more like family than professionals and even the patrons are more shabby and casual but you can’t beat the value and the food is still delicious .
This restaurant is so cheap it doesn’t even have a website!
So here are the details for Le Pacifique Belleville:
- Address: 35 Rue de Belleville, 75019 Paris, France – metro Belleville, 5min walk from the metro station
- Phone:+33 1 42 49 66 80
- Opening hours: open every day from 11am to 2am
4. Dong Huong (Paris 10eme – Belleville)
Dong Huong restaurant is not about Cantonese cuisine but Vietnamese with its famous pho (beef noodle soup). With no PR they were able to build a reputation overtime for being one of the best pho in Paris (according to my google search in French). It opened in the 90’s and is still owned by the family so I guess consistency is key. They started with a small restaurant and have since expanded to another 4 rooms plus a Bahn Mi (vietnamese baguette sandwich) next door.
They do all the pho types: with beef, with beef balls, tripes etc… they do all sorts of drinks. It’s a classic and is great for pho cravings.
- website: Dong Huong restaurant
- address: 14 rue Louis Bonnet, Paris 10eme, 2 min walk from the Belleville metro station
- open everyday but Tuesdays, from 12pm to 10.30pm
The funny thing is that I went to high school with the owner’s daughter, so last month when I was in Paris on a Wednesday, craving Pho and my parents’ favourite pho joint TinTin was closed, I decided we’d go there and try my luck and see if I’d catch up with my high school friend. Would she recognise me after 20 years with no glasses but 15 kg heavier plus two kids. Well, she did and it was so cool to catch up and she told me about her new project Joy Marché St Honoré, a fresh asian premium fast food caterer in the heart of Paris not far from le Louvres museum. I have to go and try that one next!
Featured in the July Link Up from Lou Messugo. For more posts about France click below!