Monday, August 3, 2009

Chez Xu - Paris

The Many Benefits of Dating a Mandarin Speaker
I probably wouldn't have gone into Chez Xu (pronounced Shay Shee) for breakfast without my mandarin-speaking girlfriend. That's not to say they don't speak French in Chez Xu - I don't know if they do or don't - it was all Mandarin from the moment we stepped in. Works for me - I got to lay back for once (I do all the ordering in French, which can get exhausting if your French is as bad as mine.) Now, that of course means I have to eat whatever she orders, but she generally has good taste. If you've never had a Chinese breakfast then you must try it with an open mind - they eat rice, noodles and things a Westerner doesn't usually associate with his morning meal. First up, Luo Mi Fan - otherwise known as glutinous rice. This version, I think, had some ground pork and chives added to the sticky rice. I was surprised how much I liked this.

Next up, Douhua, otherwise known as soybean curd pudding or tofu pudding. This doesn't look too appetizing but it's really delicious. It's served with sugar or some kind of clear sweet syrup. I felt like I was eating dessert for breakfast. It has a slightly jello-like consistency but breaks down into a liquid once in the mouth. Pingle has gone back to Singapore already but I like this enough to venture in and order on my own in broken French/Mandarin/Sign Language.

Finally, You Tiao, otherwise known as Chinese cruller or deep fried dough. This looked very good to me and I was really looking forward to biting into it. Sadly, it was disappointing - the American in me wanted it to be sweet, wanted to dunk it in coffee or chocolate or find a vein of sweet filling inside. At the end of the day, it really was just deep fried dough. Not my thing. It didn't dampen the overall meal though. I will gladly be going back to Chez Xu for breakfast and will probably try it out for lunch and dinner.

They're located in a small Chinese neighborhood near Beaubourg & Reaumur. This "Chinatown" is so small, you may not know about it. Almost everyone there is from a small city in China called Wenzhou, which is a few hundred kilometers south of Shanghai. They're known for their business sense and entrepreneurship and a short walk down rue Au Maire and rue Volta will make that clear - there are businesses, shops and stores galore.  If you want to see a very different side of Paris, make the trip.
9 rue Volta,
3rd Arondissement

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  1. Of course I have good taste... I date you babe!

    How good the glutinuous rice turned out took me by surprise too. The glutinuous rice is not the extremely sticky version and the ground pork with sichuan preserved was yummy and juicy. Not dry at all.

  2. Wow, chinese food in Paris, who would have thought?! And not just regular Chinese food, they even got traditional stuff. Not that many places do cruellers around NY. Pretty awesome.

  3. @Puff - your dating me only calls into question your taste.... Wahahahahaha

    @Danny - This little Chinese 'hood is the real deal. I know, I live smack in the middle of it. This is just one of a dozen places in two small blocks. As always with the Chinese, everything is open longer, is cheaper and is faster to get in and out of. A real pleasure when I get tired of slow, expensive, gone on vacation for the whole month of August, regular Paris.

  4. you have to eat the cruellers with soy milk or else its just not what it's supposed to be! both the salty and the sweet soymilks work. i love it with sweet soy milk!

  5. @Anonymous - ok, I'll try that. Now I have to learn the Mandarin for "Sweet Soy Milk"!!!

  6. Ok...I'm finding myself falling in love with you! That 'Puffin' is one lucky woman.

    A man who adores food, travels, is a creative writer and photographer...a dream.

    Thanks so much for writing and sharing.

  7. that breakfast looks great - even the fried dough.

  8. @Connie - I never speak for my lovely girlfriend but I imagine she'd counter by saying "yeah, you don't have to sleep next to him as he snores like a bear in my ear" or something like that.

    @Yutjangsah - The fried dough - negative. Looked cool but not too tasty. I had one in Singapore that I dunked in coffee and that was good because I like coffee. I had another version today in Hanoi and I still feel the same. Whiteboy needs sweetness in his doughnut.