Le Pont de Yunnan
15, rue Notre Dame de Lorette, in the 9th Arrondissement.
09 41 81 71 66. Tues–Sun, noon–3 p.m. and 7 p.m.–11 p.m.
Every morning when I look out my window at the park below, I see clusters of Chinese women doing some sort of cross between jazzercise and tai chi. While it looks a bit ridiculous against the backdrop of Haussmannian buildings, I really can’t laugh, because from the very first day I arrived in Paris my own exercise routine disappeared from my life as fast as prepackaged bread. Though I never for even a moment considered joining their workout sessions, I do often wonder which Paris restaurants they turn to for real-deal Chinese food.
Enter Pont de Yunnan. A colleague of mine had suggested this Chinese hole-in-the-wall, tucked just south of Pigalle, when we were brainstorming over where to take our team for a holiday lunch. Tired of the standard, often overpriced French fare near our office in the 8th Arrondisement, I jumped at the idea.
Our group of eight was greeted by a Chinese native, who clearly felt more at ease in English than French. The small, 25-seat rectangular room was too brightly lit and way underheated for December. But the clientele, clucking away in Chinese and clicking away with chopsticks, provided a solid reassurance of authenticity.
We were far from disappointed. Plate after plate of Yunnan specialties arrived at our table. To start, perfectly pan-fried classic potstickers and a super-flavorful cold soba noodle salad. Then on to the main dishes: A hot iron pot of eel that even the most skeptical of our bunch couldn’t get enough of. A plate of Szechuan pepper chicken that was by far the spiciest (and most delicious) dish I’ve yet to find in Paris, ruled as it is by the delicate palates of the French. And a sea bass dish ordered especially for the seafood eater of the bunch, which we all had to restrain ourselves from devouring. Beef with leeks, shrimp tempura, lamb, stir-fry noodles… it just kept coming. We washed it all down with some cold Chinese beers (straight from the bottle—sacré bleu!).
All in all, Pont de Yunnan had me planning my next visit by the time the second dish arrived, and even considering a bit of Chinese jazzercise too.
In a nutshell: Eat like the natives at this no-frills authentic Chinese hole-in-the-wall, where your mouth will be delighted and so will your wallet.
Price check: Appetizers, 4–8 euros; mains, 10–14 euros.
If you like the sound of Le Pont de Yunnan, you’ll also enjoy Happy Nouilles. Read the review.
95, rue Beaubourg, in the 3rd.
01 44 59 31 22. Mon–Sat, lunch and dinner.
Editor’s note: For a gourmet walking trip, check out our DIY downloadable Paris trips.