If there’s no shortage of Chinese restaurants in Paris, those dedicated to specific regions are few and far between. But this canteen with its red Formica tables gives pride of place to the cooking of Shandong, a province south of Peking with a particularly rich gastronomic tradition. It’s hard to choose badly here, as long as you appreciate offal – Shandong’s cooks positively invented the ‘nose to tail’ concept.
We started with peanuts and celery (€4), a fresh, crunchy dish typical of the region. Then, although perfectly tender, the five spice beef (€8) was far less exciting than the spiced chicken hearts, livers and gizzards. Jellyfish with garlic (€6.50) turned up on our table by accident, but slipped down nicely. Meltingly soft aubergines in a spicy sauce (€8) were worth a return visit alone. We left far too much of the menu unexplored, sadly, particularly the soups and seafood – more regional specialities.
Simple and without pretence, the restaurant is very popular with Paris’s Chinese intellectuals. The owner, Mr Xua, comes from Shandong, and has been a cook for over 30 years – he chose this slightly eccentric location for its house number, 88, a lucky number back home.