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100 best restaurants: East Asian cuisine

East Asian cuisine, from Thai to Japanese, is well represented in Paris. Here's our pick of the crop

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Bizan - © Thierry Richard

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Bizan - © Thierry Richard

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Kinugawa - © Time Out Paris / Charlotte Fouillet

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Kinugawa - © Time Out Paris / Charlotte Fouillet

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Kinugawa - © Time Out Paris / Charlotte Fouillet

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Li Ka Fo - © Time Out Paris

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Li Ka Fo - © Time Out Paris

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Li Ka Fo - © Time Out Paris

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Isami - © Time Out Paris / Thierry Richard

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Isami - © Time Out Paris / Thierry Richard

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Isami - © Time Out Paris / Thierry Richard

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Ma Kitchen - © Time Out Paris / Thierry Richard 

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Ma Kitchen - © Time Out Paris / Thierry Richard 

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Ma Kitchen - © Time Out Paris / Thierry Richard 

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Tsubame - © Time Out Paris

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Tsubame - © Time Out Paris

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Tsubame - © Time Out Paris

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Soma - DR / © Soma

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La Taverne de Zhao - © Time Out Paris

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La Taverne de Zhao - © Time Out Paris

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Mandoobar - DR / © Mandoobar

East Asian food has long been popular in Paris; yet despite (or perhaps because of) this, substandard Asian eateries abound. At times, it can seem as though they all serve up the same nems and sushi sets at the same prices. To help you navigate this minefield, we've compiled a list of our favourite Asian restaurants in the capital, from budget Chinatown canteens to upmarket sushi joints.

Li Ka Fo

Critics' choice

If you’re lost and starving in Chinatown of a lunchtime, choosing from among the serried ranks of neon signs offering Chinese, Vietnamese, Thai or all three at the same time can feel like a minefield. No longer – head to Li Ka Fo.A few ducks hang in the window to attract the hordes, and there’s a warm welcome when you go inside and find your way to a table between Chinese families eating their way through gargantuan plates of food. It’s all very reassuring. The menu, with its dozens of dishes, begins with the more leftfield chef’s specials: pork intestines sautéed with cabbage, duck’s tongues with ginger... Read more

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Chinatown

Ma Kitchen

Critics' choice

Be prepared to queue at this tiny Franco-Korean canteen, whose rainbow of colours and flavours behind the bar seem to attract the entire neighbourhood. Fortunately the staff are both patient and prompt in filling their cardboard cartons with the house speciality, bibimbap. Traditionally, this Korean dish mixes rice, vegetables, meat and an egg – Ma Kitchen's version leaves out the egg, but gives it five new spins every day of the week: salmon with basil, spicy chicken with honey and peanuts, Korean roasted pork, fried chicken, sautéed prawns with ginger, etc. You can also choose from six vegetables that change daily and seasonally... Read more

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Gare du Nord/Gare de l'Est

Tsubame

Critics' choice

Outside this charming Japanese eatery, an imposing blackboard proudly proclaims its appetising dishes (and no less irresistible prices) to passers-by. If the lunchtime bento boxes (€8-12) don’t stop you in your tracks, then the list of petite dinner dishes (€3-10) should do the job. The owners bring to this establishment all the thoughtfulness and delicacy familiar from their seafood joint Atao. Despite guzzling our takeaway salmon bentos in front of our computers, between gulps we were able to discern everything that makes a good teriyaki: fish cooked just right, sticky but not overly glutinous rice... Read more

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Pigalle

Bizan

Critics' choice

It's hard to choose just one restaurant from the glut of Japanese places that line the Rue Sainte-Anne – but it should be this one. Minimal, discreet and chic, you could pass by without knowing, and miss out on a real treasure. At the bar or in the dining room upstairs, Bizan serves precise dishes full of subtle flavours: from a surprising mackerel sashimi grilled with yuzukoshō (chili, yuzu and salt citrus paste) to an impeccable sushi assortment (special mention for the tuna belly). If you're struggling to choose, go for a chirashi: a bed of rice bearing a selection of fresh fish and a scattering of prawns... Read more

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Opéra

Little Hanoï

Critics' choice

A clean and simple modern restaurant with an open kitchen, Little Hanoï (or its big brother, Paris-Hanoï at 74 rue de Charonne) is a breath of fresh air. Delicately scented dishes arrive on your table still steaming, fresh out of the oven and free from MSG – huge salads, bo bun, pho, beef with onions and much more. There are some nice touches, like the mint leaves in the water carafe, and the excellent egg rolls and deep-fried prawns that can be ordered by the piece (€1 and €0.90), and dishes costs around €10, with rice and vegetables included. There is a price, however: patience. You can’t reserve, so you’ll have to queue... Read more

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Charonne

La Taverne de Zhao

You risk burnt fingers and tongues trying to get into your hotpot too soon at La Taverne de Zhao, with its wonderful casseroles full of bouillon, large translucent soft noodles, beef, coriander, mushrooms, seaweed and tofu. Cool down with a pull of milky bubble tea with tapioca balls, and take a break to snack on pork buns. No roast duck here: the cooking is native to X’ian, the capital of the Shaanxi province, where traditional recipes prefer cooking in a pot, adorning with edible flowers and adding mysterious herbs. Chef Zhao offers many dishes you won’t have had a chance to taste before – not everything works... Read more

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Canal Saint Martin

Isami

Critics' choice

One of the best sushi restaurants in Paris is tucked away on the bank of the Seine by the Ile Saint Louis. Isami's small dining room is simply decorated but for the rows of Japanses earthenware stacked behind the bar like a vast library, and in front of them the Itamae (master sushi chef) works away in a frenzy. He guts the fish with an expert hand and rolls the sticky rice and other ingredients in his palm with incredible precision, a constant movement, endlessly repeated in pursuit of perfection. It’s well worth watching during the time it can take to bring your order. When it does arrive in a large terracotta vessel... Read more

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Ile Saint Louis

Hokkaido

Critics' choice

A tiny canteen on the Rue Chabanais in the 1st – also known as the ‘quartier Japonais’ – Hokkaido is very basic , but always promisingly full of regulars. Generous, well-priced dishes are offered to take away or sur place – a bowl of ramen noodles for around €8, pork gyoza with white cabbage and ginger around €5 for six.

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Opera

Kinugawa

Critics' choice

Step into Kinugawa and you’ll be swept up in muted lighting, gentle music, Zen décor, air con, warm hand towels, candles… all the stops have been pulled out here. The staff are wonderfully attentive, and your glass is always full. First come chilled entrées such as tai sashimi à la Kinugawa, in which the subtle flavours of the sea bream are brought out to the full. Hot starters are also available: try the nasu dengaku (half an aubergine coated with a sweet miso crust – delicious, but very filling), or the ebi aspara apuri (a dish of grilled prawns and green asparagus tossed in a spicy lemon-garlic dressing)... Read more

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Tuileries

Bien Bien

Critics' choice

Bien Bien has been serving excellent Thai food on the Rue Bergère for the last 25 years. The decor is simple and elegant, but that's not what you come for – the cooking here is the good stuff, full of big, bold flavours lifted here and there with well-judged touches of coriander, Thai basil and bergamot. To start, go for the triangular parcels of pork and prawns, or the beef salad (€5-€7). For main dishes (around €10 without rice), curry is the house speciality. Green curry with coconut milk was great, while the paneng – a red curry with coconut milk and roasted peanuts – also stood out. A plus point – they'll adjust the spiciness... Read more

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Faubourg Montmartre

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