By George Christopher Thomas, Travel Writer & Food Critic
PARIS, FRANCE — When you have had enough frog’s legs and French bread, it is time to head to TaoKan Chinese cuisine in the heart of Paris. We had the wonderful opportunity to spend some time in the “City Of Lights” a few months back, and the culinary scene is second to none. After some intense discussion with the “Lunch Committee,” which consisted of Joanne and her chef brother who lives in Paris, we decided on Dim Sum.
The idea behind TaoKan is to break the codes of what you can find in Paris in terms of a Chinese restaurant and to bring a Contemporary Chinese restaurant onto the Paris dining scene. The decoration is contemporary and modern. The owner avoided the usual Chinese decorations you normally find in Paris, with heavy colors and Buddha’s everywhere.
A nice added touch is the open kitchen, which brings some life in the restaurant with a permanent show when they prepare the dishes. It is really neat to see how everything is prepared and cooked, and hopefully that becomes a new trend in the restaurant business. With all of the cooking shows and cable TV out there, most people would find it interesting what kitchen utensils they use, and the techniques they employ. I always wanted to know how to fold an egg roll before cooking it, and now I know. Taokan also has a special presentation of the dishes: always try to bring something elegant and surprising to the customers. For example the Cantonese spring rolls are presented like “maki,” a fun and elegant touch. We found the service to be absolutely perfect, and the menu was very clear with both the dishes mandarin name and a French explanation.
In terms of food, they have decided to focus and concentrate on the Cantonese and Shanghai area of the Dim Sum world. The food from this region is very healthy, very light and fresh. Their main specialties are all homemade, and the objective is at the same time to respect the tradition of this cuisine and to bring in some modernity. Using this philosophy and mix makes TaoKan a groundbreaker in the restaurant community, introducing dishes like the scallops or seafood Dim Sum, the famous Loc Lac Beef or the green tea crepe.
We had the most wonderful and delightful lunch, and shared everything around the table. It is such a fun way to have a meal and spend time with friends and family. We ended up choosing a couple of our favorite dishes, and then just dabbled and mingled. The culture in Paris is to have a long lunch, enjoy some wine or tea, and let time just float by. At TaoKan you cannot help but let time fly by, as each dish slowly follows the next one, and you enjoy some of the most delicious and fresh food anywhere. The spring rolls were so good every bite made you want to cry. The beef was all cooked to perfection, and the way the scallops and seafood were carefully prepared made me want to high five everyone in the kitchen.
After what seemed like only thirty minutes, our two and a half hour dining experience was wrapping up. Did we have time for desert? Sure, why not slowly take this into dinner, and someone open a bottle of red wine? We can have cheese and crackers, Dim Sum style. They do actually serve dinner as well, and I could see how someone could just hang out there and enjoy both meals. I definitely recommend eating at this wonderful restaurant in the heart of Paris. It is right off several Metro stops and was easy to find. If you are on foot, it is maybe a 10 minute walk from the Notre Dame Cathedral. (For more information, please visit www.taokan.fr)