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Asian Eateries in Paris

More Confusion Than Fusion

Tableside Preparation

What’s cooking in Chinese restaurants? Some wonder if the arrival of the year of the Pig on February 18 will shed some light on the confusion over the so-called “Asian” tables in France. For instance, will we know how many “Japanese” restaurants are really Japanese? Rumor has it that ninety percent of the “Japanese” tables are actually Chinese-owned.

Recently, French Health Services determined that some soy sauces used in restaurants contained the cancer-causing toxic propyl chloride. They also found a stock of genetically modified rice that had been banned from the European Union. There’s a long list of investigations in progress related to Asian food products. How safe are they, is the worrisome question that has kept many diners away from their occasional indulgences in fried rice and spring rolls.

Sushi

The stunning discovery of a clandestine dim sum factory that used less-than-fresh ingredients was a devastating blow to the 6,000 Asian establishments of the greater Paris area, causing the loss of a large chunk of their clientele. A timid response came from the Asian Union of Restaurateurs and Hoteliers (UCHRA). They would bestow, they proclaimed, a certificate of quality only to restaurants that would adhere to the mandatory principles of hygiene and authenticity of Asian products. So far, so good. About fifteen Chinese restaurants got the “Qualité Asie” label supposedly paving the way for hundreds or thousands more to come. Problem is: there has not been a single addition to the short list since. So should we stay clear of this very limited certified field?

Soup

If the Chinese kept a low profile on the subject, the Japanese did not take it lightly. The Japan External Trade Organization, JETRO, dispatched inspectors not only to France but also to the rest of the world to put a cap on the extravagant blossoming of pseudo “Japanese” restaurants that was threatening—or so they thought—the image of the gastronomy of the Empire of the Rising Sun. They weren’t too happy to discover a Korean barbecue place serving sushi in the States. Also, because of tense Sino-Japanese relations, they were appalled when news came from South West China that the hip and expensive thing to do there was “Nyotaimori”—the old but almost vanished Japanese tradition of savoring shellfish, sushi and sashimi over the naked body of young girls lying as a table. Also a tad unusual was the “meal served over the breast” in the Changsha area in the Hunan province. Japanese hated the sushi au foie gras served at Nobu in London.

Separating the ersatz eateries from the authentic ones, JETRO has selected 50 genuine Japanese restaurants in France.

Among these we like:

Japanese

Isse, 45, rue Richelieu, 75001 Paris. Telephone 01 42 96 26 60

Kinugawa, 9, rue du Mont Thabor, 75001 Paris. Telephone 01 42 60 64 07

Isami, 4, quai d’Orléans, 75004 Paris. Telephone 01 40 46 06 97

Sushi

Azabu, 3, rue André Mazet, 75006 Paris. Telephone 01 46 33 72 05

Yen, 22, rue Saint Benoît, 75006 Paris. Telephone 01 45 44 11 18

Wada, 18, rue de l’Arc de Triomphe, 75017 Paris. Telephone 01 44 09 79 19
This modest place is our favorite.

Chinese

Chez Vong

Make no mistake; Paris has a host of good—and safe—Chinese restaurants. Here are a few:

Chen-Soleil d’Est, 15, rue du Théatre, 75015 Paris. Telephone 01 45 79 34 34

Chez Vong, 10, rue de la Grande-Truanderie, 75001 Paris. Telephone 01 40 26 09 36

Zen Garden, 15, rue Marboeuf, 75008 Paris. Telephone 01 53 23 82 82

Vietnamese

Kim Anh, 51, av. Emile Zola, 75015 Paris. Telephone 01 45 79 40 96
This one is our favorite.


PJCR022107
(Updated: 09/08/10 NW)
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