Shang Palace

bbq pork at Shang Palace in Paris

Quite a while back, I worked at an Asian restaurant in San Francisco. The food was amazing. Fresh shrimp were cooked up, chopped, then smeared on bread, then deep-fried for shrimp toast. All the dumplings had freshly cooked ingredients in them – no canned peas or frozen shrimp. And each one was hand-rolled. All the meats were well-sourced and cooked daily, then shredded for fillings and claypot dishes. And the seafood was sparkling fresh.

The restaurant hobbled along for a few years then, sadly, closed. There were number of factors, but the one that I heard from most people is that they balked at paying regular restaurant prices for Chinese food.

For some reason, people think that Asian food needs to be cheap. (Last time I was in New York City, I went to a place that is famous for serving dumplings that could be had five for $1. It was recommended by a lot of people and they were so awful I threw them away, mainly because I was concerned about the meat – or whatever was inside – that I was eating.) I don’t know why people will easily pay $20 for roast duck at a regular restaurant but scoff if it’s more than $8 at an “ethnic” restaurant, especially if the ingredients are sourced with the same care at both.

I went to a luncheon at the Shang Palace when the restaurant opened last year in the Shangri-La hotel, and found it just, um, okay. I don’t know much about the specifics of each region of China but Cantonese food doesn’t have the zing and fireworks of the other regional cuisines of China.

Sitting at the table, I wasn’t sure who the clientele would be. They’d brought a highly regarded chef and his team from China to cook here, but French people, I thought, don’t care about authentic Chinese cuisine, Americans aren’t coming to Paris to eat Chinese food, local expats are going to hit the smaller Chinese joints, and visiting Asian guests at the hotel aren’t going to eat in a Chinese food in Paris. So I didn’t think it would make it.

But I was invited back by the restaurant (their representative is one of my neighbors, who also gave me a hot tip on a great bakery treat in our area, which I’ll report on if I can get there before they run out) and I was interested in returning. I love Chinese food, which is one of the world’s greatest – if not the greatest, cuisines. And I was curious to see how the restaurant had progressed and evolved.

cocktail

We arrived early and had a drink in the bar, because I’ve recently had my love of cocktails reignited – and Paris has really ramped up the cocktail bar scene. I had a Vieux Carré, made the Hudson Manhattan rye, Martini rouge, and bitters, that was just perfect. While I sipped on the expertly made drink, I spoke to the fellow at the bar about the restaurant, wondering who were the customers.

“Parisians” he said, without hesitation.

Shang Palace

It kind of surprised me, but sure enough, when we went downstairs for dinner, the dining room of the Shang Palace was filling up with French patrons. Most of them were drinking fancy red wines in special stemware, although we went with tea. So count me as xenophobic for thinking that there wasn’t sufficient appreciation for authentic Chinese fare in Paris.

(Speaking of self-criticism, I’d like to note that the photographs in this post don’t do the food justice as I only brought along my point & shoot camera.)

I’m not sure if the locals like it as much as I do, but I love, love, love Chinese bar-b-q, and was thrilled at the lengthy selection of meats on the menu. It was probably the hardest decision for us of the night, but we went with the porc laquée au miel, or pork with honey glaze, which was crispy outside, falling-apart tender inside. The portion was huge and I kind of realized we may have over-ordered when we realized we had a few more dishes coming. And this was just the first. (There’s a full-page of barbecued meats on the menu, ranging from lacquered Peking duck, crisp suckling pig, pork brisket, and pork ribs. I may go back just for an assortiment de spécialités rôtis façon cantonaise, an order of all of them.)

Shang Palace Shang Palace

After a plate of very thinly shaved cold beef shin marinated in soy sauce and spices, out came a stir-fry of pork and clams with chives and steamed buns made with oatmeal flour, which you stuff yourself – literally, and figuratively. (If that makes sense.)

One of my favorite of all Chinese dishes is rice in lotus leaf. It sounds ho-hum, but here it’s the house specialty and elevated to something extraordinary. It was the best version I’ve ever had.

Shang Palace

It’s one of those simple things that’s hard to put your finger on. This one had shrimp, chicken, roasted duck, and small bits of vegetables in it. When I asked the waiter why this version was so good, he mentioned it was marinated overnight. But that didn’t really explain how I could not stop digging my chopsticks into it.

Shang Palace

I was so enamored of the food, I could not stop eating it, even though we were threatening to burst. And somehow, we also managed to get mostly through a claypot of stuffed tofu. Still, that’s never stopped me from ordering dessert.

Luckily my partner is a pretty adventurous eater, although Chinese sweets can certainly be an acquired taste, as they often are jellied or use ingredients that are unfamiliar to western palates, I appreciate them not as a comparison to Western desserts, but as something entirely different.

Shang Palace

The first that came out was the Crème d’amande en coque de sésame croustillante, a miraculously light, crisp sesame shells. The waiter snipped a hole in the whisper-thin shell, which had the faint aroma of pork. The fragile (and edible) lid was removed, and inside was a smooth, quivering warm almond custard. It was a feat of dessert engineering, and I happily spooned it all up.

Shang Palace

Then three dumplings came out, made with steamed rice flour, served on shiso leaves.

Shang Palace

When sliced open, each was filled with fresh, thick cream dotted with tiny nuggets of mango and melon. It was another amazing dessert. It was intriguing to figure out how they were made as well, but we didn’t think about it too much – we just ate.

Shang Palace

And in true Chinese restaurant fashion, although hardly Parisian, they were happy to give us a doggy bag to bring home the leftovers.

Shang Palace

I was really impressed with the meal at the Shang Palace. And like Alec Lobrano, it’s going to be a special-occasion restaurant for me in the future. I am anxious to go back and try the dim sum menu because all the dumplings are made in-house and dim sum is certainly underrepresented in Paris. (There is a special dim sum menu at lunch that I’m anxious to try.)

True, this is a special dining experience and it’s not a regular Chinese restaurant that you just drop into when you can’t think of anywhere else to eat. But we were both more than surprised at how much we liked the food, as well as the friendly, top-notch service. Now who wants to join me for dim sum?

Shang Palace
Shangri-La hotel
10, avenue d’Iéna (16th)
01 53 67 19 98
Métro: Iéna

(Menu and prices on the website.)


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Paris By Mouth

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Note: As mentioned, I was an invited guest of the restaurant for dinner.


64 comments

  • Agree that people do have a tendency to assume that ethnic food ought to be cheaper, that happens in London too. Both Indian and Chinese, and probably Thai as well, have become so ubiquitous that people forget that there can be something beyond the cheap neighbourhood places. London has a few higher end Asian restaurants, and people do pay more, but they’re the exception rather than the rule.
    I’m really liking the sound of some of the dishes you’ve described at Shang Palace.

  • Interesting market analysis. I guess many times rationality and reality don’t match. Here in Stockholm there was a cafe that I liked, great coffee, great brunch buffet, lots of customers but it closed. Then there are many sad eating places still going strong. Its the customers fault for not making right choices/decisions:)
    In Singapore one of the high end hotel restaurants offers hawker food. Its busy even though you can go outside, walk in any direction and come across fantastic and cheap food. I guess there are customers who don’t want to eat in ‘scruffy’ places so this Chinese restaurant probably caters for them.

  • Kavey: I think because there are inexpensive ‘ethnic’ options we tend to think of them as the standard. I don’t think people want cheap sushi (!) and Iike most folks, I tend to go to the Vietnamese and Indian places in Paris that are certainly in the inexpensive category. It’s just interesting to eat someone like here, where the food is at a whole different level, for a change. I do want to go back for the dim sum!

    Three-Cookies: Often times restaurants close for a variety of reasons – and not just because of the food. But in Paris, a lot of bad cafés are packed where people are eating frozen or pre-prepared food, while traditional bistros are struggling or closing.

  • I’m really agree with you. I ate really great food in Beijing and learned so much about chinese food: nothing to share with european “chinese” food.The same story in Italy, but maybe worser, because the Italian are very proud of their cuisine (and they are right!), but unfortunately very suspicious and closed to “ethnic restaurants”.

    • Francesca: I think in countries that are more “melting pot”, folks have a lot more exposure to various “ethnic” foods than in other countries. That’s rapidly changing in France and while at first, a lot of the foreign foods were “Frenchified” – there are now quite a few places serving traditional foods from elsewhere (at various price points) that are really good, or excellent, and usually packed.

      Sophie: Yes, I was pretty surprised at how much the restaurant has evolved. I was told there was a more elaborate dim sum lunch being offered, and that there was an all-you-can-eat option, but I haven’t been. It’s interesting to see a few dim sum places in Paris become popular – like Yoom and Dim Sum Co – athough I’ve only been to Yoom, once. And the places I’ve been to in the 13th have just been “okay” – but nothing special. Dim sum is one thing I do crave often…

      (I recently had char siu at Tang Gourmet – wondering what you think of their version..)

  • Glad to see that Shang Palace has improved since the beginning. It was already promising but some things needed to be adjusted. About the expected prices of Chinese food, I agree with you regarding the menu dishes, but Cantonese dim sum is a different affair because it is a genre of its own, with its own economics. It does not have to be dirt cheap but is not elegant cuisine either. It remains early-morning breakfast food to wash down with tea in a joyful, bustling atmosphere, thus I was disappointed by the dim sum offering at Shang Palace – too polite, too pricey, too carefully degreased, portions too small (impossible to share). No of course Chinese food does not have to be cheap to be authentic, but even the expensive version is more generous and less uptight than what I had at Shang Palace. But again I went soon after the opening. I’ve heard good reports since then indeed, not just yours. But the char siu on the top photo is cut too thick and looks too lean. Here is what a true Cantonese char siu should look like: http://bit.ly/W72I1T

  • After a number of weeks in Italy earlier this year, we found a lovely Chinese place in Venice where we ate 2x. We were the only customers there (lunch and an early-ish dinner). But the relief from the great Italian food we had had was welcome, perhaps a palate cleanser. (We also went to a Hard Rock Cafe for a burger – never have been to a HRC anywhere else.)

    It’s always nice to have options.

    Dim sum – carts or menu ordering? We go to BC for dim sum and it’s mostly menu ordering. Still have some carts in Victoria.

  • That all looks fantastic. I’ve just moved to England and have yet to experience good Cantonese (or any other type of Chinese) food–I always find that you have to go with at least 3 other people to really enjoy Chinese restaurants.

    Growing up with Cantonese restaurants and dim sum/yum cha, I think it’s funny how Chinese desserts (and dim sum) are always evolving, while many dishes have stayed the same for centuries. E.g. That one with the cream and fruit filling looks like it’s made with a mochi-style wrapper, kind of like Japanese mochi ice cream.

  • I’ll happily join you for dim sum!!

  • I’ve been happily eating my way through my local Chinatown (just one street) for the last months. Prices here are still pretty cheap, but since these places are more authentic than your average takeaway Chinese joint it’s mostly Asian patrons, not so many Belgians.
    Last year an upscale Chinese restaurant opened in my neighbourhood and after getting (well deserved) rave reviews the place has been packed, you need to make reservations many days in advance to get in. Prices are a lot higher but the food is treated like “fancy restaurant food” – nice presentation, you pick a proper main course instead of many small dishes, an upscale wine card, very polite and friendly waiting staff, etc. This restaurant is frequented by Belgians and not so much the Asian community.

    To be honest, I the taste is very good in both places. I think it’s the setting that lures in either the locals or the expats. People are probably more comfortable going into a place that looks and feels familiar to them.

  • As for cheap Asian restaurants, it’s too bad the world doesn’t have more Cecilia Changs and her San Francisco Mandarin restaurant. I would have loved to have eaten there when it was in its heyday. I had to settle for her memoir The Seventh Daughter — fascinating read about how she grew up In a palace then walked 1000 miles to escape the communist regime and eventually ended up in San Francisco. When she started her restaurant she insisted there would be no red and gold in it like the cheap Asian places around her. Interesting that she is the Mom of Phillip Chang of PFChang’s. The recipes in her book are wonderful — some of them are dishes she served at The Mandarin. Also just realized her book was written with Lisa Weiss.

  • We don’t go to Chinese restaurants much because, as Laurie said, it’s really best if you go mob-handed and can share. However, we are lucky enough to live just across the road from what is widely considered the best Chinese take-away, certainly in South London if not the entire capital, and I can assure you we make good and frequent use of it!

  • David, you raise a good point about the ingredients in the cheapest food. There are plenty of ultra-cheap noodle and dumpling joints here in Hong Kong, and some of them are very tasty, indeed. But often the meat is… how shall I say this? … of questionable quality.

  • David, I think you are incorrect in assuming that Asian hotel guests will not eat in the restaurant– having grown up in Hong Kong, I know a large number of people who, when they travel, will still only eat Chinese food. It’s a shame for them to miss out on all of the other great food out there (particularly somewhere like Paris!) but having a good Chinese restaurant in the hotel makes the Shangri-La a very attractive option for them.

    • Yes, I certainly noted in the post the error of my ways (of thinking) – although there weren’t all that many Asian guests in the dining room on the night we were there.

  • I have yet to find a Chinese restaurant in France featuring authentic Chinese cuisine, all places I have been so far have been so bad that I don’t even try anymore.

  • funny, i think cantonese cuisine is one of the most pleasant on the palette. anyway, my personal favorite is the custard bun from shang palace (shangrila singapore). It’s amazing.

  • In New York’s Chinaatown, I eat where the Chinese eat…. Is this a sign of authenticity ??? The food is cheap and delicious with no concerns over where this food came from.. Sorry you had that knock on Prosperity Dumplings… I never had the concern you voiced…

  • From the pictures you took, the food look very authentic. I don’t crave Chinese food much when I travel (although I was born and raised in Hong Kong). Part of the reason is Chinese food aboard can rarely measure up and the other part is I crave pasta and bread more. But I may give this place a try if I were to select a Chinese restaurant to go to with a Parisian friend. Thanks so much for sharing. :)

  • Lovely Chinese food!

  • And there was me at first glance thinking you were going to tell us about a shag palace…..(obviously need new glasses!)

  • NOTED!!!!!, Googled and SatNav coordinates entered into smartphone for easy retrieve to book it and find it. Many thanks for the lovely tip and you are spot on regarding how it is expected to find top class cuisine at Asian restaurants for rock bottom prices.

  • David you are right on when you talk about the price expectations for Americans when going to a Chinese Restaurant. You could also expand this to Mexican food which has finally hit Paris with some authenticity. But true food lovers seek out the better ethnic restaurants and are willing to pay more.
    As to Americans going to Paris and not eating Asian food, I think that only holds true to city dwellers whose home city has good Asian food. When we lived in LA we never ate Asian in Paris, because we could eat so well at home. The same with Mexican food. But now, we live in Austin, and there is not a good choice for Asian food ( but excellent for Tex-Mex and Mexican ). We seek out good Asian places in Paris, thanks Ann Mah, and you David.
    I Thank my stars “coffee shops” and cafes in Paris have begun to improve their coffee. Those sweet Starbucks coffees are an improvement on typical Paris burned espressos to many, but I for one seek out the really good cafes that use freshly roasted and organic beans for divine coffee to go with my croissants.

  • I enjoyed the bright flavors at Monsoon. It was a treat to dine there!

  • Like you, Chinese food is my absolute favorite. Unfortunately for me, I was diagnosed with Celiac Disease about 5 years ago. There goes Chinese food, as well as most other Asian cuisines. Dim Sum was my Sunday morning ritual, but it is now a faint memory. I keep hoping for authentic gluten free Chinese food; maybe in Paris. It would certainly be a good reason to plan a trip!

  • Interesting looking food. But now you have my curiosity piqued, what Chinese restaurant in San Francisco were you referring to early in the post? I grew up in SF and currently reside in Berkeley, and have been trying to figure this out (China Moon?). Still occasionally run over to SF for dim sum, and am happy to say there are some very good Chinese restaurants in the East Bay. Enjoy your blog!.

    C. Berryessa
    Berkeley CA

  • I had a delicious lunch at the Shang Palace in May. The prices were indeed steep but for the quality of ingredients, level of cooking and attentive service, it didn’t seem unreasonable when you consider how expensive restaurants can be in Paris. Initially, the waitress spoke to me in Mandarin but when I told her that I speak Cantonese, she sent over a Cantonese-speaking waitress – that was a first for me.

    We enjoyed a very good mixed roast meat plate, lovely fried noodles with seafood and a couple of dim sum dishes. The almond cream in a sesame shell was amazing and the small egg tarts were delicious.

    Definitely worth a visit as a treat.

  • Back in 2008 or 2009, there was a documentary about Chinese restaurants in Paris. The reporters went undercover into kitchens and revealed some of the most horrific food violations you can imagine. Most of my Parisian friends stopped eating cheap Chinese food after that story broke, but I there is definitely a market for upscale Asian dining. Glad to have a Dim Sum address….what about you doing a book signing there? All your fans coming together for Dim Sum….sounds fun, non?

  • Hehehe…we dined at a Japanese restaurant in Rome…delish…some of the best I’ve eaten, even living in San Francisco! I always wanted to open a Gourmet Mexican restaurant in Paris…excellent ethnic food should be everywhere!

  • I have always thought about opening a Mexican resturant in Hong Kong….wonder if it would catch on?

  • I completely agree. Not only do people expect ethnic food (Chinese, Mexican, Thai, Vietnamese, etc.) to be dirt cheap, there seems to also be a trend to disrespect those cuisines who try to use better ingredients, techniques, and care.

    I have actually been appalled by my own friends on several occasions as well when they tip LESS at so-called ethnic restaurants than they would at trendy ones.

    As someone of Chinese-descent, I can’t help but feel like it is an institutionalized mindset at this point. Even my own relatives balk at spending more for better Chinese food, which always disappoints me.

    Thanks for bringing this up and showing us how good that “cheap” food can be if we give it a chance.

  • OMG David! Now I HAVE TO go back to Paris to have some Chinese food!!! :) Every things looks amazing and my mouth is watering as I write this… Hey, any thoughts on how they make that sesame shell?

  • Arthur: I’m sure it would be a success. The Mexican places in Paris (the good ones) are doing quite well and are usually quite busy.

    Stephanie: I heard about that but I never saw it. (I tried to find it online but couldn’t a while back…) Those places are everywhere and I used to go in once in a while. But then I heard about that documentary that everyone was freaking out about and stopped. Although it’s hard to avoid those cheap take-out joints – there are four on my block for example!

    Catherine: It was called Monsoon and it was owned by Bruce Cost, who trained with Virginia Lee.

    ron: I don’t know if that was the name of the place or not, but I remember the dumplings were very cheap and there were a lot of people in there – however I don’t recall what ethnicity most of them were.

    Richard: You’re right and it’s nice to see folks (mostly Australians) opening very good coffee shops in Paris, like Kooka Boora. (I had perhaps the worst espresso of my life at Starbuck’s in Paris, but in general the coffee is better than a vast majority of the cafés, although I don’t frequent them.)

    I think you can get good ethnic food at most price points, but after eating here, I was thinking about how so many of us expect certain cuisines to be “cheap” – even folks that normally are pretty savvy about the ingredients they use. In New York, you can get an inexpensive burger at Shake Shack made from high quality ingredients, or one of those fancy ones at Daniel that cost something like $35.

  • Hi
    I do not agree with you on the quality of the pictures–everything looks beautiful and delicious. I know these desserts are best eaten at the restaurant but I have a child with celiac (and feeling adventurous) so I thought the “Crème d’amande en coque de sésame croustillante” might be a great gluten free alternative. Do you think it can be successfully made at home? Thanks
    P.S.: Believe me…I’d rather go to Paris to have it but right now that is not an option

  • Your going to love your latest copy of Lucky Peach.

  • Wow, David I am really impressed with your post. Chinese school of cooking was once hold at least in the same regard with the French cuisine by the THE FOOD WRITER M.F.K. Fisher. Sadly, there are people who expect to eat fresh seafood at the price of frozen vegetables if it is “ethnic”.

  • In my experience the best Asian restaurants are those run by small families who have very little restaurant experience. They don’t know how to create a high-quality restaurant meal, but they can rock the simple home-style faire.

    On the other end of the specturm, the only “quality” Asian meals I’ve found available tend to be chain restaurants which taste like their dishes have been through three layers of management and which consider chocolate an appropriate dessert. Even those are pretty middle-of-the-road where quality, presentation, and price are concerned.

    The exception to this experience is such, of course. There are some amazing, small, high quality sushi restaurants in this world.

  • *sushi, not such. My fingers are too fast, my spelling too poor, and spell check too slow… =\

  • PLEASE give us recommended cookbooks and internet sites for chinese cuisine.

  • Fantastic postw/pix! Looks like Shang Palace will be my first stop in Paris :)
    Cheers!

  • The rice dumpling dessert you had are classic mochi cream- mochi filled with different flavored cream and sometimes fruit. Japanese, but also popular elsewhere. And I’m pretty sure it’s gluten free.

    • The quality of the cream had something to do with it, as well as getting the balance of flavors just right. They were delicious.

  • This is why I am loving my time here in Shanghai. While some expats seem hell bent on finding the best Western restaurants, often in large hotels which could be anywhere in the world, my husband and I are relishing the wonderful foods from all parts of China which are to be found here. Okay we have had some disasters but mostly great food and great staff especially now we are finding the language is not out with our capabilities. Loving Shanghai.

  • I know exactly what you mean about Asian desserts and westerners, I think the problem is Asian desserts are usually not very sweet or not sweet at all. And I’ve found that a lot of people find the texture hard to consume.

    There are some very nice Asian desserts out there, but there are also some not-so nice ones. My favourite is the dessert version of the Chinese sticky rice that’s wrapped in a bamboo leaf. The dessert version has a bright yellow rice filling and you dip it in brown sugar before you take a bitw. There’s nothing inside it just that bright yellow rice all the way through. I have no idea what it’s called but it is delicious (not to be confused with Thai sticky rice desserts).

  • Cantonese food is like the haute cuisine of China – it aims to showcase the natural flavours of the ingredients and not to mask them with heavy flavourings. As for the lotus leave rice, usually the rice is cooked with the soaking water of shiitake mushrooms, dried shrimps along with dried scallops so that the rice is beaming with umami flavours. The rice needs to be on the undercooked side so that it doesn’t get too wet after steaming. Apart from soya sauce and sugar, Cantonese chefs also had oil that has been heated up to the rice – I think this technique contributes to the fragrance that you obviously love :)

    • Yes, there was something about that rice that was subtle, but amazing. It’s seemingly just a mound of rice. But as you mentioned (and thanks for the explanation) – there was something much deeper about it. I simply could not stop eating it. It’s was a great version of one of my favorite dishes.

  • Sorry for the typo: it should be ‘lotus leaf rice’ and ‘add oil that has been heated up’…

  • Did you ask who wants to join you for dim sum? I do!

  • Good dim sum is the absolute best food in the world. And I love most authentic ethnic foods. And sticky rice in a lotus leaf is also my favorite. I’ve tried making them at home with Chinese sausage and ground pork, and while good, I just don’t have the special know-how to make it right. I do know they are usually made with sticky rice (sweet rice) and it has to be soaked in water overnight before steaming. I’m not usually fond of Asian desserts, however I would be happy to try either one -or both of the desserts your table ordered.

  • beautiful! chinese cuisine really is fascinating…talk about complex flavors.

  • @sophie above, thank you for the rec. for The Seventh Daughter – it sounds like a fascinating read and I’m going to check it out.

    Another interesting read is “The Fortune Cookie Chronicles”, about the rise of the Chinese restaurant industry in the US. Surprisingly, much more going on there than anyone knew! Is very well-written and an entertaining read, I thought.

    It’s not really surprising that authentic ethnic foods are delicious. Their cultures are thousands of years old and they’ve learned to make the most of what they had to work with and cultivate everything to be even better. China, India, Mexico, Japan – these places have the largest populations – all that competition and culture makes for a dynamic refinement of flavors in all those home kitchens over the centuries.

  • As a Malaysian who has had the luxury of having good dimsum at the tip of her fingers back home, I do struggle a lot to find good, quality dimsum in Paris, the capital of a gastronomic nation. I have searched on and hunted for countless restaurants in Chinatown and Belleville for a real dim sum restaurant and have concluded that what I’m looking for will never be found (with the exception for Shang Palace but alas, it is out of my gourmet budget).

    So what I have done then to satisfy my cravings? By making my own chinese wontons and xiao long baos. As for chinese desserts, they may not be as well known or appreciated as a Religieux or a clafouti but hell, they’re still yummy. David, I hope that you’ll be able to try my all-time favourite Dim Sum dessert in Paris – lemongrass jelly. Such a simple dessert (recipe recipe too) but the best way to conclude a glorious breakfast.

    I’ll be happy to share with you my wonton recipe if you wish and thank you for giving recognition to the ever yummy lotus rice hmm hmm!

  • Fresh food ingredients are must for healthy living. It seems Shang Palace is kingdom of awesome food. From your pictures that you have taken, all the food looks very authentic to me, specially the almond custard.

  • A newly transplanted New Yorker to Lyon in June 2012, I will happily join for a round of dim sum in Paris the next time I’m there.

    Of Taiwanese background, and having grown up eating Chinese food 3x/day, I have struggled to find good Chinese or Asian food here. As much as I ADORE the cheese, pastries, seasonal vegetables and such, I’ve had to fulfill my Asian cravings by making/learning to make so many Asian dishes that were readily available at restaurants in NYC.

    Yes thank you for pointing out that ethnic food CAN BE expensive and worth it, not always cheap and so-so.

  • Hi there,

    We’re big fans! Love the excellent photography…

    We are having great success with macarons out here in Colorado, but having a hard time finding shipping containers that work. Do you mind sharing where you’re sourcing the little crates shown in your photos? The egg crate manufacturers I’ve contacted so far have been less than helpful. They just don’t understand the macaron thing…and if someone doesn’t get it, well, it’s just not something you can explain, is it…

    Thanks so much,
    Leslie and the gang at It’s All Good!

    Not sure what containers you are speaking of. If they are the cardboard containers that eggs are sold in in France, those come with the eggs and don’t know where the distributors and/or producers procure them. -d

  • Wow! I’m Chinese and I’ll say that looks like some divine Chinese cuisine. That sesame ball caught my attention. They are very common – delicious fried dough balls encrusted with sesame seeds, with a red bean paste inside. I’ve never seen it with an almond custard. Sounds delicious! Love the photo of the rice in lotus leaf; I hope there were bits of chinese sausage in it. Yum!

  • I know exactly what you mean when you say that some people expect ‘ethnic’ foods to be cheap. I think this kind of narrow-minded thinking extends to how the same people perceive Asia too. I live and work in Asia and often come across tourists in my line of work who are seem to come here for a ‘cheap’ holiday and shopping experience only to lament that prices are ‘the same if not higher than back home’.
    I have no idea who gave them the idea that things Asian ought to be cheap and under priced. Often these tourists also have no regard for quality in their search for the ultimate ‘cheap’ experience either and will buy something if it’s just bad quality. They have little understanding that good quality comes at a universal price – for food or anything for that matter.
    I work in jewellery and have to laugh to myself when people are looking for ‘cheap’ gold. Frankly, gold is sold at a universal market price and if that gold that you are looking for is too cheap then I think you may be kidding yourself – certainly, all that glitters may not be gold.

  • Another great review which usually leads to delicious dining experiences. The prices are quite steep but the menu has so much variety its a must go, on special occasions though, perhaps like Bon for upscale Thai dining. When learning French here, I met a Chinese girl who introduced me to Celeste Gourmand on Rue de la Tacherie that has become my go to weekend Chinese food spot. I have forgotten the name of the speciality cuisine but its Spicy and delicious.

    The one thing I’ve used as an indication of good ethnic food is that we always happen to be two of the 5 non Aisan diners in this ever crowded restaurant.

  • I have long pondered this very question. One factor could be the Chinese tendency to assume, mistakenly, that non-Chinese cannot truly appreciate traditional Chinese flavours. I remember how, as a child, certain ingredients were scrupulously avoided in our kitchen whenever we had Western visitors. The woody aroma of dried shiitake mushrooms; the pungency of fermented tofu; the hair-like appearance of black moss; the buttery saltiness of preserved duck egg; even the warm spiciness released by ginger in hot oil were all deemed potentially offensive to Western senses! And yet I can think of equivalents for all of these in French cuisine alone (at least in terms of flavour and texture). Unlike the French, however, who believe that you are simply wrong, or in need of educating if you dislike French food, the Chinese humbly keep the ‘real’ stuff for themselves.

    Those mystery dishes on the menu written only in Chinese, elaborate banquet offerings, or simple home cooking remain off limits for the average Western diner who is, more often than not, presented with the depressingly familiar MSG-laden fare congealed in a puddle of cornstarch. Is this Chinese modesty, a reluctance to impose their real tastes in food upon their host country? Or is it a form of arrogance (“They don’t know any better, so just give them what they want”)?

    Whatever the reasons, the result is a bizarre reversal of expectations whereby ‘going for a Chinese’ has become synonymous with what is essentially a fast food experience, with prices to match.

    • Thank you for your erudite and real exposure of ‘foodie ignorance’ !
      Chinese cuisine has a subtle sophistication that marries well with an earthy inclusion of the sensual delights of real foods.

  • I lived with a Chinese man for a time and we frequently discussed the strange fact that although there were plenty of high end restaurants in Taiwan, Chinese food in the U.S. always meant cheap. It surprises me because I would think that in large cities there would at least be a niche market for one or two quality places in each town, especially on the West Coast.

    I’m in Paris at the moment, so when my mother comes to visit, perhaps we will look into that place. The one negative about Chinese food is that it’s better with a group.

    By the way, I came across your blog because I was looking for information on the neighborhood around Montorgueil. I’m toying with the idea of making a semi-permanent move here and am in town seeing how I like the idea of the place as something other than a tourist. Your blog and your info has been spot on so far.