While finding Chinese restaurants is the easiest thing to do in Paris (there is at least one in every street) yet finding one that serves good Chinese cuisine but which is not too pricey at the same time is no mean task. But Vietnamese influence is so great in France (France being its former colonial masters) that top Vietnamese dishes such as loc lac and bo bun have found their way into most Chinese restaurants, even the big ones, in Paris. Here are a few restaurants that you might want to try.
(1) Wok192 restaurant, 192 Avenue Jean Jaures, Paris 19.
Metro: Porte de Pantin
Opens 7/7 from 12 noon for lunch and from 19h00 for dinner.
Note: This is a buffet-style restaurant and for 11.80 euros you can eat to your heart's content if you go for lunch on week-days (but if you go during the week-end or for dinner it will cost you 16.80 euros per person). I have been to such buffet-style restaurants before but quite often there is just quantity but no quality. Here you have both and there are some 40 dishes to choose from (besides you can also choose raw vegies, meat and fish for them to grill or cook into a dish specially for you!)
The nearest metro to get down for the restaurant is at Porte de Pantin and if you follow these directions you will find yourself right at the doorstep of the restaurant!
Take the last wagon of Line 5 that goes to Bobigny. When you get down at Porte de Pantin look for Exit No. 4 then turn left. When you are at the street level you will find yourself at the entrance to the restaurant!
(2) Locomotive restaurant, 25 rue de Torcy, Paris 18.
Metro: Marx Dormoy
The speciality here is its all-in-one-plate dish containing white rice with three different types of grilled meat (chicken, beef and pork). Unless you are a really great eater you will probably not need anything else after this! If you are a curry-lover you might want to try their curry chicken soup with noodles. A big bowl of this soup containing a sizeable number of chicken pieces costs 7.30 euros. Not recommended for those who don't like spicy food though!
Loc lac, a popular Vietnamese dish that has found its way into Chinese restaurants in Paris.
(3) Tin Tin Restaurant 56 Rue de Torcy, Paris 18.
Metro: Marx Dormoy
Opens 7/7 (non-stop from 11h30 to 23h00)
Its best dishes are: loc lac, sizzling bite-sized meat pieces with coloured rice (photo on right), sweet sour fish and poulet du chef, crunchy chicken pieces with thick sauce that go very well with a bowl of white rice. Yummy!
(4) 9, rue Volta, Paris (Metro: Arts & Metiers)
Eating in this small restaurant in the heart of the Chinese community of the 3rd district of Paris will certainly make you feel that you are in a Chinese restaurant in Beijing or Shanghai. If you go there at about noon on any day you will see what I mean. Don't expect to be able to have a quiet conversation with your friend here as you will more than likely be squeezed into whatever seats are available between strangers. What is guaranteed though is a typical Chinese ambience, with the workers scurrying around in frenzied activity. Here again, as in China, you will have a plate of rice together with your favourite 3 dishes from among those displayed for 6.50 euros, just as similar "canteen" restaurants in the neighbouring street called Rue au Maire.
(5) Pho 14 restaurant 129 avenue de Choisy, Paris 13.
For those of you whose benchmark for a good restaurant is where there is always a big crowd both inside and outside, the place to go is the "Pho 14" restaurant at 129 avenue de Choisy. Although it is in the Chinatown of the 13th district, the nearest subway to it is not Porte de Choisy but Tolbiac. Take Exit No. 3 or 4 and once on the road just walk down rue de Tolbiac until you get to its junction with avenue de Choisy. The "Pho 14" restaurant (it's more of a Vietnamese restaurant than a Chinese one as its name shows) is actually made up of two adjoining restaurants but there is only one queue for both.
A stone's throw away (on the opposite side of the road in fact) is another good Chinese restaurant called Sinorama at 135 avenue de Choisy. This place is also quite crowded, especially in the evening. So if you are in no mood to queue up for 15 minutes or more in front of "Pho 14" you have an alternative place to go. The Sinorama restaurant can easily be spotted as it is in a corner all by itself.
Roasted duck or "canard laqué" at Mirama Restaurant, Paris
(6) Mirama Restaurant Chinois 17, rue Saint-Jacques, Paris 5.
Metro: Saint-Michel, Maubert-Mutualite
Opens 7/7 (non-stop from 12 noon to 23h00)
This is one of the more authentic Chinese restaurants in Paris (no Vietnamese dishes here) and has established quite a name for itself over the last few decades for its roasted duck though it is certainly not the place to pass a long, quiet evening among friends (it's the type of place, more like a canteen, where you just go to eat and leave!) But despite being situated in a street with more motorists than tourists (though it is just outside the heart of the Latin Quarter), many people still find their way to it, mainly for its famous canard laqué (roasted duck).
Note:Both this, and the Pho 14 restaurant mentioned above, are a bit on the expensive side compared with the other restaurants mentioned but if you are willing to splurge on a special occasion, you can eat quite well here.
(7) Restaurant Nanchang (Metro: Charonne)
This is a quaint little Chinese restaurant with a difference. Once seated, imagine being presented with 3 or 4 sheets of cyclostyled paper instead of the usual menu for you to mark the dishes that you want to order (and the number of each). Not only that, when you turn your head round the walls of the room you will see that you are surrounded with posters of Chairman Mao Zedong and other paraphernalia of his epoch. A particularity of this restaurant is that it is mainly frequented by Chinese teenagers of both sexes giving it an air of McDonald's. But don't be beguiled by this. One item on the menu is pig's penis! Make sure you don't mark that one by mistake (the Chinese name is on one line and the English translation on another).
And by the way, all its dishes (except rice porridge in claypots) are spicy, for Nanchang is the capital of Jiangxi Province and Jiangxi cuisine is reputed to be spicy. When you are asked if you want spicy or normal, be prepared that what is "normal" to them could be "spicy" to you! Anyway there is a packet of Kleenex tissue paper on every table in case you need to wipe the sweat off your face (yes, I have seen customers wiping off the sweat while eating). You don't know what spicy really means until you try the dishes here!
It does not open for lunch at all but only opens from 18h30 to 22h30 for dinner every night of the week. It's at 143 Rue de Charonne. If you go there by underground, get down at Charonne station, go out with Exit No. 2 (Boulevard Voltaire) and turn round the corner into Rue de Charonne. Tel. 0980967115