La Taverne de Zhao
Ever since 2011, the cuisine of the city of Xi’an (located in the Shaanxi province, which was the capital of ancient China many times over) has had an embassy of its own, a quick ricochet ride from the Canal Saint-Martin. After closing for six months – during which time they opened up the street food spot Mr Zhao, and did some serious remodeling of the original restaurant – La Taverne de Zhao is back with a chic new look: a scarlet red façade, a marble-topped bar, light wood tables and warped sea green walls. Small in size but massive in terms of merit, this classic institution is more delightful than ever: there’s a wonderful selection of momos (small stuffed buns) filled with lacquered duck, shredded pork or five-spice tofu; heavenly steamed pork and trout roe dumplings; incredible liangpi royal (cold noodles with sliced chicken, watercress and a scallop sauce); a vivifying salad of Chinese bellflower sprouts with a sesame cream; plus, a very fresh mango, black rice and coconut milk dessert. To drink? A glass of Côtes-du-Rhône from Coste Clavelle (€5.50), chrysanthemum tea (€4.50 for a teapot) or Tsing Tao beer (€4.50). À la carte €15-25. // J.G.