Chinese cooking has been pretty mediocre in Paris for so long, the Chinese community here are mostly originated from the Southeast Asia, i.e. Vietnam, Laos and Cambodia. The cooking is not exactly authentic. The scene is slowly changing since 3-4 years. With the lower ends, you find more varieties: Northern Chinese noodles shops, dim sum specialised restaurants, or trendy fondu places etc. Higher end places you can find Shang Palace in Shangri-La, Lili from Peninsula. And just opened a few months ago, Family Li in rue du Faubourg Saint-Honoré.
It’s the first Family Li restaurant 厲家菜 in Europe, they have restaurants in Shanghai, Taipei, Tokyo (with Michelin stars) and in Australia. They serve 19 century imperial court delicacies in a modern way. The chef Ivan Li is the great grandson son of the imperial chef serving the emperor in the forbidden city.
I called a month ahead to make a reservation for a Saturday dinner, it was a Chinese man speaking average French answering the phone. Then, 2 weeks later, I called them to reschedule for a Saturday lunch…the woman answering this time couldn’t find first reservation, she spoke alright French, I secretly hoped that the reservation would be noted this second time. D-day, we arrived on time. The restaurant had a big spacious lobby, modern minimalist Chinese decoration with an emphasis on gold. Our table was 1 of the tables on the ground floor just behind the lobby. They had a second floor, I saw big Chinese families arriving was leaded upstairs.
An experienced Chinese maitre d’hôtel served our table, he was friendly and professional, he showed us the French and the Chinese menus. We both have chosen the Menu Délice to try the restaurant.
The amuse bouche was caramel walnuts with a spring roll crispy shell with a date inside. Nut was good, I didn’t see too much the relationship with the spring roll.
The entries included the crispy lotus cake / mustard trunk / vegetables in juice
Seabrass fried with salt and pepper / shrimp fried with pancake / spicy fragrance beef cube (we loved the beef)
Stir fried gambas with vegetables, fried emperor chicken accompanied with bun
Bream cooked with lotus root and spring onion and ginger, served with fried rice
Dessert, yellow bean pudding / cheese cake / emperor’s delight
Food were presented like tapas. Though I didn’t see too much the relationship between each individual entity on the same plate. For Chinese food, they weren’t at all heavy or oily, sauces were light, maybe a bit too light to my likings (I love sauces). The cooking was well done. We have ordered tea with the meal. At present, they had only Mariage Frères jasmin tea (5E each), which they refilled generously every time the pots emptied without extra charge (a plus, signified it was a real Chinese place).
Will we return? Probably, when I’m craving for good Chinese food. The lunch menu was 48E. It was one of the best Chinese place I have eaten in Paris. Next time, we will probably have dinner to see the difference.