Jump to content
  • Welcome to the eG Forums, a service of the eGullet Society for Culinary Arts & Letters. The Society is a 501(c)3 not-for-profit organization dedicated to the advancement of the culinary arts. These advertising-free forums are provided free of charge through donations from Society members. Anyone may read the forums, but to post you must create a free account.

Shan Goût in Paris


APL
 Share

Recommended Posts

Hello all – long-time lurker, first-time poster (and thank you to those who've contributed to this forum).

I went to Shan Goût last week, much lauded by Emmanuel Rubin (among others), and thought I would share my impressions.

First, there is clearly a lot of buzz about this place – the place was packed on a Tuesday night.

I did not take any notes, so the names of dishes and so on will be necessarily imprecise; my recollection of flavors should be less so.

I ordered the pork dumpling soup, the cold tofu appetizer, the cold chicken with ginger and scallions, and the dan dan noodle. It might sound like a lot of food for one, but I had read that portions were small: and so they were. I also wanted to taste a variety of dishes offered.

The waitress brought the soup, which smelled deliciously of heated sesame oil and chives. Sadly, the broth was very bland, almost shockingly so. It was clearly undersalted (which is incomprehensible to me, in such a small operation). The dumplings were marginally better – the casing overcooked, the filling ungenerous, with a straightforward taste of pork (which is fine) but lacking any complexity whatsoever. The broth is one quick test of a kitchen's mettle, and this was very disappointing. An inauspicious start.

The tofu appetizer did not fare better. The menu indicated that it was served with a special sauce (don't have the name, sorry) and shrimp – the picture made me think that they would be dried shrimp somehow, and I was excited about the textural counterpoint and flavor « boost » they would provide. The tofu was unremarkable – chilled tofu, which might as well have been good, store-bought silken tofu – for some reason, I expected chilled, but previously steamed tofu. They were cut in very small cubes, which to me is absolutely not the right way to serve these – you lose all textural impact. The sauce tasted very clearly of rice wine, which is a taste I love, but it had no depth of flavor whatsoever: it was basically one note, and not a very long one at that. The shrimp added nothing – cooked shrimp, cut into tiny pieces, with none of the briny, rubbery contribution I had been looking forward to.

I should mention at this point that it seemed like it took an inordinately long time between dishes. Between these two mediocre dishes and the next ones (which I requested come together), a good 20-25 minutes passed.

Luckily, things improved. The dan dan noodle, which I had requested very spicy, at least tasted good! Come to think of it, it really wasn't similar to any of the renditions of this dish I had had before, which came from presumably reasonably authentic Szechuanese places (some of the well-known ones in Manhattan and Flushing, though never from the actual region – some day!) I detected no pork, for instance. But the texture of the noodles was excellent, « toothsome » (to use an adjective I hate), the sauce deep with ground sesame paste and what I imagine was dark soy sauce, and I am sure many other things. Dried shrimp were actually in this dish. Pickled cabbage provided balance. (I realized only later on that this dish was very similar to a dish I used to get in New York for a pittance, a dish I loved, in which the sesame sauce was more “profound”, and in which the pickled cabbage was replaced with slivers of cucumber, which actually work even better, neatly offsetting the doughiness of the noodles with their aqueous crunch. It was also served with more cilantro, which works just beautifully in this context.) There was no « ma la » to speak of, although it was pleasantly spicy, as requested.

The cold chicken with ginger and scallions was delicious – still pinkish where the bone would have been, the flavors clear and precise. On the other hand, I'm not sure it would be difficult to find a dish of this quality in one of the Paris Chinatowns, where in fact, I've had versions with better tasting skin.

The bill for these dishes (no dessert or drinks) came to about €32, which seems fine (although I understand some have complained about prices there).

All in all, a decidedly mixed experience, to put it generously. It left me disappointed, as I felt half of the dishes were terrible and the others, while good, not exceptional; perplexed, as I simply do not understand the enthusiasm surrounding this place – yes, it's better than many restaurants in this town (and I don't mean just Chinese ones), but really, what it offers just seems to be the very least a restaurant should offer in the first place; and a bit annoyed, as it seemed pretty clear that the attitude was that the chef was condescendingly letting us get a glimpse into the glory that is Chinese cuisine – je ne demande que ça – but this was far from glorious.

It did feel good to leave a Chinese restaurant without the insistence of MSG on the palate, though.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • 2 weeks later...

Firstly, I'm not an expert on Chinese food and certainly not on American Chinese food (In Europe at least I've found that Asian dishes are usually in some way adapted to national preferences, even if they are qualified as authentic.)

I lunched at Shan Gout last week and very much enjoyed the pure, fragrant flavors of my beef with ginger dish which had just the right spicyness (don't recall the name of the dish). I agree that the portion was quite, but for me not too, small. As far as I'm concerned Shan Gout is definitely worth going back to.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I was there with a party of four the last Sunday night in May. It is just three blocks from the Gare de Lyon. There are a total of seven tables in the entire place however you do not feel crowded like in many other places, It is a nice modern place to enjoy a dinner. The good news was it was open on Sunday night. The bad news was that they were out of all fish and had very little meat and we were the first persons there at 730 pm. The dining room was completely filled within 30 minutes. Service was prompt and not lagging so it looks like they have figured that part of it out. The menu does have photos of many of the main dishes. There was a very pretty friendly server but her French was weak. Many times she had to ask the cooks about things. We made do with spare ribs, two different shrimp dishes and a chicken dish. We had the dumplings and a couple of vegatable dishes for first courses. All were very tasty. The prices are reasonable but the portions small so we ordered another order of ribs and shrimp to share among us. It was a plesant experience after eating bistro food for five days. I would again if I knew they had the full menu available. I really wanted to try some fish dishes.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

 Share

×
×
  • Create New...