Unlike many other cities, Paris has not one but three China Towns that come alive this week during the week-long celebration of the Lunar New Year, culminating in a weekend of family gatherings and dinners. Start the year of the rabbit, symbol of prosperity and peace, right by reserving a table at one of Paris’ two most luxurious Chinese restaurants for an unforgettable experience.
Shang Palace in Shangri-La
Traditionally, the Shang Palace remains windowless to allow daylight to enter, immersing diners in a deeply hushed and private atmosphere that transcends all notions of time. In other words, it’s the perfect setting to leave everything behind to celebrate the most important event of the year on the calendar: Chinese or Lunar New Year.
Book a table in the main dining room, but don’t wait too long, as the restaurant is fully booked every night, even Mondays, at the best of times. For more private gatherings, there are three private dining rooms where business deals and other matters are usually discussed behind closed doors.
Europe’s first Shang Palace offshoot, it opened in the Shangri-La Paris hotel, located in a spectacular 19th-century private hotel that belonged to Prince Roland Bonaparte (Napoleon’s cousin) in 2011. The following year it became the only Chinese restaurant in France to receive a Michelin star more than a decade later, the title intact and unrivaled.
Inspired by the culinary traditions of Southeast Asia, Hong Kong chef Samuel Lee rustles up Cantonese, Malaysian and seafood cuisine with true authentic flavour. And this Lunar New Year is no different. The chef has an extensive menu of sashimi cards Lo hey raw salmon served with julienne vegetables, sesame paste, white vinegar rice and saffron chilli to start, which must be thrown high to make wishes come true.
Don’t miss the langoustine wonton soup, which prepares the taste buds for Shang Palace’s special crispy Peking duck, served with dainty pancakes. That’s the first pièce de résistance, if you will. Several are coming. The meaty lobster sautéed with ginger and wheat noodles is a fair contender for the top spot, as is the wagyu beef sautéed with black truffle. Finish with pork dumpling and Chinese cabbage, and finish with Chef Pastry Chef Maxence Barbot’s refreshing seasonal clementine pastry.
A wonderful menu, which will be served from Thursday 19 to 23 January, but there are also some à la carte options available. There will be parties with dancing dragons and lions and other fun surprises not to be missed on New Year’s Day, Sunday the 23rd. For more information and bookings please inquire at the restaurant. shangrila. com
LiLi on the Paris Peninsula
Another palace hotel with roots in Southeast Asia that puts on a wonderful show for the Lunar New Year is Peninsula Paris’s LiLi restaurant, which will also feature dancing dragons and lions, and “Lai See,” red gift envelopes, traditionally given for the good luck and health are given, as well as a tasty menu of delicacies served on Saturday, January 21.
Dimly lit by lanterns, which pick out the intricate details of the high-ceilinged, wood-paneled theatrical dining room, you can reserve tables in the main room or in more intimate nooks, hidden behind red velvet curtains or opaque glass panels.
The culinary experience begins with an assortment of entrees selected by Chef Tak, followed by LiLi’s version of the traditional Lo Hei, Chef’s dim sum (abalone, shrimp carabineros, vegetables and truffle), baked lobster, tenderloin with garlic and chili sauce, and Chinese noodles with stewed crab. Some a la carte options like. the Peking duck served in pancakes and then re-cooked three ways are also available. Symbolizing longevity, prosperity and happiness, the menu ends on a sweet note with a selection of Cantonese desserts: rice pearl infused with ginger syrup, red bean buns and the traditional Chinese New Year glutinous rice cake Nian Gao.
The end of the Lunar New Year celebration is marked by the lion dance in the evening. Symbol of strength, courage and wisdom, the lion is considered a lucky animal in Chinese tradition. Dressed in a lion costume, the dancers move like a lion, reinterpreting the animal’s movements to the beat of drums and gongs. Afterwards, guests can hit the dance floor for DJ music from 7:30 PM to 11:30 PM.
Should you miss the chance to taste Chef Tak’s special Chinese New Year menu, a selection of the festive dishes will also be available for lunch and dinner from Tuesday, January 24 to Saturday, January 28, 2023. Bookings: +33 (0)1 58 12 67 50 or by e-mail [email protected].