The Peninsula ParisFrance is famous for its love of food and french cuisine, and what better place to try it other then the romantic city of Paris. With so many luxury properties, it offers a variety of culinary styles and experiences adorned by authentic chefs from all over the globe. The Shangri-La and The Peninsula, two major Asian luxury hotel brands, play a a trivial role in Paris and both specialise in traditional concepts of asian hospitality, so I decided to try them both out! I was invited exclusively by 'The Peninsula' to try their 'Lili restaurant', a dark seductive gothic themed Chinese sitting, serving authentic Cantonese cuisine prepared by award winning chefs from Hong Kong itself. The Peninsula is the perfect host for this beautiful restaurant as the deep rooted history tells us. Since the mother hotel, the Peninsula Hong Kong, opened in 1928 when Hong Kong was still a British colony and was meant to be “the finest hotel east of Suez,’. It's easy to see why Lili is such a important asset for The Peninsula. Everything about this restaurant oozes class and sophistication, from the grand decor , high ceilings, and hand crafted panels imported from Shanghai.In fact the restaurant design is based around a traditional Chinese opera, with grandeur architecture complimented with long draping curtains and deep chairs.
For starters we tried two varieties of dim sum dumplings. Deep-fried taro and chicken puffs, and Steamed vegetable dumplings with mushrooms . Although dim sum is quite easy to make, Lili have worked extremely hard to add a touch to their pieces to make it a enjoyable experience adding a variety of textures and tastes in each piece. The chicken puffs were perfectly crispy on the outside, later melting in your mouth like truffles from the inside. The homemade garnishes of three sorts, chilli, garlic and , and a sharp touch, but not over empowering the ingredients.
Pretty dim sum, with home made oriental garnishes
To top everything off, we tried some special 20 year Sake, a traditional Japanese/Korean alcoholic beverage made from rice and vinegar, (much like having wine in the west but stronger) bought to China by the Japanese. The drink provides a important insight to oriental culture and cuisine, and although I only had a small dose, it went well with the food, and made me slightly too jolly by the end. Chinese references state a lot about the behaviour of the Japanese singing and dancing Apparently this is a sign its doing the trick. I can see why this drink is enjoyed so much. It makes the setting a bit more causal and enjoyable and has the kind of warmth you get from having a whisky on the rocks.
Line-caught codfish braised in claypot with garlic and shallots
If dim sum isn't for you why not try out the duck? This was a rather enjoyable procedure to watch, as our host impressively carved our duck immaculately preparing it for serving. They were served with a traditional plum sauce, spring onion, cucumber, pepper and a unusual but sweet twist of melon which helped break up the strong flavour and character you get in duck pancakes. the additional duck is taken away and served as a second helping fried in batter with garlic and chilli.
We moved onto mains of the line caught cod, mixed with shallots infused with chilli. Overall the dining experience was heightened by the pristine service. It will cost around 100 approx, and whilst it is expensive, it is worthwhile for a special occasion.
In fact, Lili is more then a gastronomical experience. Its a insight to the opulent Cantonese lifestyle which was once enjoyed exclusively by the riches. I could see from the custom just how important asian food is in Paris, and Lili is not shy of a good display. Food should be a enjoyable experience and they execute the ideas so well. The restaurant has definitely left a new benchmark on me for fine dining. Unfortunately I had to jump on a plane back to London shortly after my sitting, but I can say I was definitely reminiscing over the restaurant my whole flight home. If I return to Paris this is a place I need to return to.
LiLi Restaurant, Hotel Peninsula Paris, 19 Avenue Kléber, 16th Arrondisssement, Paris
Tel. (33) 01-58-12-28-88.
Metro: Kléber Open daily for lunch and dinner.
Average 100 Euros. www.paris.peninsula.com
From 21 January to 5 February LiLi is being transformed into a veritable theatre stage, lifting the curtain on its “Splendour of Chinese Opera” display, rich with costumes in shimmering colours, adorned with delicate embroidery and featuring sculpted headdresses, as well as photographic works highlighting the mysterious and refined aesthetics of Chinese opera
Shangri-La is a newer hotel group founded originally in Singapore in 1971. In Paris, Shangri-La own a rather smaller but trivial property which was originally home to Roland Bonaparte, the nephew of Napoleon. The Shangri-la group is focused around the concept of Asia Pacific , and the Paris property
I visited the 'La Bahunia' named after a flower which roots in Asia but combines the hotels history with botanist Roland Bonaparte.. It's perfect for midday light lunches, and has a combination of asian food with a French twist. I started off with the 'Tom Kha Kai' soup, a coconut flavoured chicken soup with lemon grass. It was the perfect started to any meal, light, sweet and punchy at the same time. We were first presented with the ingredients in a bowl, where the soup was poured in front of us after.
A lot of the menu was based around Thai food because its ingredients make it light and easy to eat.
The Shangri-La christmas tree