When I have a taste for Asian food, there are two neighborhoods I head to in Paris : Chinatown and Little Japan Town. The former is in the 13th arrondissement (Metro Olympiades) and is a whole street lined with Chinese diners where you can see people shoveling mouthfuls of sticky rice and spoonfuls of aromatic broth and noodles into their mouths. The street is anchored by Tang Frères, the Chinese grocery store emporium (a delight with a fantastic takeaway counter, too !).
For Japanese hankerings, I love to wander along rue St. Anne just off of Avenue de l’Opéra. This little neighborhood is chock full of noodle shops, yakitori restaurants and a few sushi restaurants. Though indeed some are better than others, on the whole you really can’t go wrong just wandering into any of these restaurants for a quick meal.
For really spectacular dining, and in a few cases gastronomic Chinese and Japanese cuisine, I have gathered together here on this list several Paris addresses that are truly outstanding. In the world of food there is an established link between the cultures of French and Japanese chefs. Perhaps it’s the commonality of the strive for excellence and mastery of savoir-faire ? At any rate, some of the best, most authentic Asian food you’ll find anywhere on the planet is here in Paris.
This is the kind of restaurant you go to for dinner when you want the excitement of a club atmosphere but good quality food, too. Taking the scene by storm, this Paris restaurant-bar follows on the heels of their successful openings in St. Tropez, Megève and now Courchevel, too. That in itself sets the tone for the kind of clientele they are going for and attracting. The not overly-complicated menu offers delicacies like scallop-filled dim sum and crab spring rolls. Their mains can range from spicy beef served with banana-leaf wrapped Thai sticky rice to sea bass steamed in coconut cream. In other words, you can't go wrong.
And the mixologist even has a few suprises on his menu, like the Spicy Jack. Difficult to describe this sweet and spicy cocktail so you will just have to stop by and see for yourself. (01 42 02 23 23)
Chez Ly 17ème
This location is the original one and it's the more intimate one. The food is of the same high quality and hands down it is the best Chinese restaurant where to enjoy pressed duck and spicy Pekinoise soup in Paris. The humble exterior belies the cozy atmosphere you'll find inside where the generously proportioned tables comfortably seat parties of two, four and more. The plates are also of generous proportions and one order is enough to share among two to four people. The restaurant is particularly well-known for its fish but the duck, pressed or in a honey-ginger sauce is a favorite of regulars, too. This restaurant is owned and operated by a husband and wife team and the care they take in service and choice of quality products shows. (01-40-53-88-38)
A young duo, Marky and Leo, got together well over a year ago now and opened up this Asian fusion restaurant. The district is a hopping one, just off rue Richer, which is laden with popular eateries. A tiny restaurant with bar stools for seating and elevated tables, the kind you find in Japan, lend an authentic air to this restaurant.
On the menu are Japanese-inspired gyozas and Chinese-inspired dim-sum or steamed dumplings; for the mains you have Pad Thai along with a seafood ceviche medley. A rarity in Paris, there is a good selection of sake cocktails on offer, too. Both owners have spent significant time in Asia and/or have Asian roots and their menu reflects their favorites from the respective countries, Japan, China, Vietnam and Thailand. (01 47 70 50 88)
La Table du Vietnam
This brand-new gastronomic Vietnamese restaurant by My Nguyen took the place of the long-standing Nabuchodonosor. Hence, a more distinguished location in the 7th arrondissement, just near the Eiffel Tower, is hard to find.
The concept of gastronomic Vietnamese is a cutting-edge one in Paris. With so many Vietnamese mom-and-pop diners here in the city, it was about time that we were introduced to the fineness of this Asian cuisine with its 100+ years of French finesse and influence.
Soft woody tones of purple and ochre greet as you are seated and gaze at the handpainted silk wall tapestries. The weekday lunch menu is a deal and for under 20euros you have a crab and mango salad served with steamed dumplings and mini spring rolls. But if you really want a treat, go for the soft shell crab, very simply flash fried and then served with salt and pepper. (01 45 56 97 26)
This is one of the best places in St. Germain for a quick, delicious lunch. The restaurant is bigger than it appears from outdoors since there is seating up on the mezzanine. Nonetheless, on any given weekday it can quickly fill up and you will see little bamboo boxes of steamed dumplings flying up from the kitchen in rapid fire.
Ok, perhaps a slight exaggeration, but the dumplings are the house specialty and their lunch offerings include six different kinds of dumplings served with a soup and a salad or choice of steamed rice. Drinks here include a nice selection of oolong teas and even exotic fruit juices such as mango and litchi. (01 43 54 94 56)
Considered one of Paris's best-loved Japanese restaurants, this much-favored venue plies patrons with fresh, amazing sushi. It and sashimi, in fact, often draw the largest crowds. If that's not your preference, tempura dishes make ideal choices as well.
You can opt for the "tapas" size to taste different specialties. A soothing interior contributes to the appealing experience. The lunch prices are exceedingly affordable and if you opt for the set menu you can get away with under about 20euro per person. Dinner gets a bit pricier and sometimes harder to squeeze into the tiny space. But whether lunch or dinner, if sushi is your thing, this place is oh so worth it. (01 42 96 26 60)
The Thai woman who is Madame Shawn, started off working in several of the larger Thai restaurants when she first arrived in France. A couple of decades later, she now has eight restaurants and counting to her name here in Paris.
The newest is this chic Bastille address for whom she commissioned designer Charles Zana for its up-do. Olive greens and wood dominate the furniture choices while a spicy red neon ceiling lighting fixture/ art installation lends pizzazz.
Most of the main dishes here are conceived of for sharing between two. So a 16euro main dish actually is enough to feed the both of you. One of the signature twists here is the Pig's Tears, a play on the famous Tiger's Tears dish : thin filets of pork, marinated in honey and asian spices and then served with lettuce leaves, sprigs of mint and a lightly spicy sauce. (01 43 72 63 14)
When this restaurant opened at the exquisite Shangri-la Hotel several years ago, it was with much fanfare as Paris's first haute-cuisine Chinese restaurant. It has lived up every inch to its reputation since then.
The restaurant is in the bottom level of this Napoleon IIIrd mansion that was refurbished as a Palace Hotel and is furnished in Sino-Franco elegance throughout.
The menu is faithful to authentic Chinese cuisine as you would find in the provinces, with little to no Western re-interpretation. The tea menu is extensive and one of the chef's passions is to imagine pairings with the rarest of Chinese teas. If you've never had Chinese haute-cuisine, authentically prepared with genuine ingredients, this is worth trying. And the setting's luxuriousness offers a welcoming atmosphere. (01 53 67 19 92)
Chef Toru Okuda's first restaurant opening outside of Japan was here in Paris in the fall of 2013. He has already been awarded with his first Michelin star here. In Japan he has two and three stars already between his two Tokyo restaurants.
He is considered a master of Kaiseki cuisine, Japan's highest culinary art that originates from Kyoto. This means that the meal is always a set menu based on what the chef proposes that day. You can expect appetizers, soup, sashimi, three main courses and dessert. This holds true for lunch and dinner.
Another talisman of Kaiseki cuisine is that the food is cooked on woodchip stoves or by steam, never by fire. The chef uses inspired condiments such as fresh wasabi and nori soaked in sak�. Count on between 160 to 200 euro per person for lunch or dinner. (0140701919)
Décor reminiscent of the Ming Dynasty and intended to evoke the elegant atmosphere of a Chinese opera, Lili sweeps you into its refined haute gastronomy Cantonese cuisine the instant you enter. The preface is tantalizing, too, as you walk the long white marble corridor from the lobby entrance of the Peninsula Hotel to the entrance doors of Lili. High ceilings, where the original cherubic angels of the former once-Majestic hotel have been preserved, allow generous doses of natural lighting, all the better to show off the splendor of this dining room. The chef, Chef Tang, has been with The Peninsula group throughout several hotel openings, so you are in trusted hands here. For lunch, their tasting menu of dishes of dim-sum served with a main course, such as beef in oyster sauce, is light, tasty and tantalizing. The service is discreet and allows for unhindered business discussions and private conversations. (15812 2888)
About Paige Donner
Paige is a transplanted Parisian. She first arrived as a young bride in the early 90s to live in Paris, having uprooted herself from her native California.
From then on it has been an on-again, off-again love affair with the City of Lights, one that has grown fonder over time.
Paige hosts Paris GOODfood+wine which airs on World Radio Paris and is also available on iTunes. When not in Paris Paige often visits vineyards and wine regions. She is also founder of Paris Food And Wine.
As a journalist, Paige writes/has written for the NY Times,LA Times, Michelin Guide, Fodor's, Blackbook, Variety
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