By George Christopher Thomas, Travel Writer & Food Critic
PARIS, FRANCE — One of the best meals I have ever eaten was in Paris, France. And it wasn’t escargot, frog’s legs or some exotic French dish only three people in the world know how to make. It was good old fashioned Chinese food, and the best place for that is Chez Vong. Here you’ll appreciate dozens of meals from Cantonese and Vietnamese gastronomic traditions, classics but executed with talent.
The minute I stepped through the doors I felt like I was transported to China, with accompanying music and décor perfect to fit the scene. It must be a family run restaurant, because there was a real homey feel. I actually felt totally and completely welcome and ready for some dumplings. The lady started us off with an array of different pot stickers, one was a baked puff with curry chicken fillings, another had steamed stuffed zucchini with shrimps, and then there were your normal delicious pot stickers as well. The sauces were just divine for dipping, and I forgot there for a second I was even in Paris, France.
I could have eaten 100 of those wonderful little dumplings; those alone are worth flying to Europe and eating at this lovely restaurant. Next however was our main course and I chose the chive & sesame seed shrimp, which could have been made in heaven as well as the kitchen in the back. The sauce and the perfect amount of cooking make it supremely wonderful. As you know, it is easy to overcook shrimp, but that does not happen at Chez Vong. They must have formally trained in the art of prawn procedure, because this was done right.
My lady ordered the beef fillet Sichuan style, and I was totally amazed at the flavors coming from this dish. It was the perfect temperature and texture, and was a joy to eat with chopsticks. Between the beef and the shrimp, the pot stickers and the ambiance, I was totally experiencing a little slice of China. So in all this happiness and flavor fullness, it dawned on us we were not eating any fish. So we ordered the Seabass with lotus roots salad, and that was awesome.
The chef must have spent decades in the kitchen, because every single dish he prepared was absolutely great. As we enjoyed ourselves and the dinner, I noticed there were a lot of Parisians in the restaurant, along with their families. It seems if you are just visiting, or you live in Paris, and you want great Chinese food, Chez Vong is the place to be.
We finished off with a fruit and ice cream dish for desert. It really is a nice final addition to a most excellent meal. The whole time I just wanted to eat slow, and take it all in. There is a waterfall, and something like four or five levels. The building is old and full of character, and very close to the center of Paris. There are several Metro stops close to Chez Vong, and it cannot be missed the next time you are in the “City Of Lights.” Come also admire the monumental butter Buddha, a 100 kilos statue sculpted by the chef Vai Kaun Vong during a gala at the festival of Cannes in 2001. (For more information, please visit www.chez-vong.com)