The much anticipated Peninsula Hotel Paris opened in August in the fashionable 16th arrondissement just minutes from the Arc de Triomphe. The group’s first property in Europe underwent a four and a half year restoration to recreate the luster of this historic landmark.
All of the signature standout features that make Peninsula an icon of luxury are here —an impressive art collection, Rolls Royce airport transfers, a top notch spa, service that is both highly professional and welcoming, and cutting edge guest room technology.
What is extra special for Paris is their very high end Chinese restaurant, LiLi named after the 1920’s opera singer. Presided over by one star Michelin Chef Tang Chi Keung, the restaurant décor is stunning. It combines French and traditional Chinese influences.
You’ll feel as if you’re transported back to a glamorous club in Shanghai in the 20’s — a floor to ceiling rich, hand-carved ebony screen covering the length of one wall, its gilding made luminescent from the candle light of the tables; a domed ceiling with fabric draping, a focal point of the room; deep crimson draperies with exquisite, oversize cobalt blue tassels, the blue echoed in Murano glass chandeliers. And then there are the design details like a bouquet of rosebuds on each table, silver chopstick holders and small, delicate porcelain cups that could be out of a dollhouse serving the welcome unique blend Oolong tea.
Lili is the setting for exquisite Cantonese cuisine. The menu is extensive —12 pages including two pages devoted to dim sum (bite-size dishes and small plates) and an entire page featuring green, white, Oolong and black teas. The six-course tasting menu, offered at lunch and dinner, is the way to experience the kitchen’s best. For lunch, it also includes an assortment of dim sum. Best yet, one person can get the tasting menu and the other order a la carte to be able to try as many dishes as possible. See here a selection of gourmet products.
The dinner began with little bites of sweet and savory followed by the seafood soup, brimming with scallops, mushrooms, turbot and shrimp in a clear broth — flavorful and light. Then there was a favorite of the evening, braised prawns Szechuan style, perfectly seasoned and cooked to a light crunch. Wok fried seasonal vegetables were accompanied by lotus roots, a perfect counterpoint to the spicy shrimp. The meat course followed: wok-fried beef tenderloin with sweetened black pepper sauce and a side dish of fried rice with shrimp. In a new twist on Peking duck, when we ordered the duck we were asked if we wanted the second duck course to be sweet and sour, fried with salt and pepper or soy. A tough choice! The duck for the pancakes was carved tableside, its crispy skin glistening and almost crackling. Unusually light pancakes allowed for the duck’s full flavor to shine. Utterly delicious! For dessert – chilled mango cream with pomelo and sago, its sweet fruity taste an ideal coda to the meal.
Chilled cucumber and turnip with Sichuan pepper sauce.
To accompany our Chinese banquet Xavier Thuizat, the Chef Sommelier, recommended a white Rhone Valley, “Cote Chatillion” Domaine Bonnefond 2013 and for a red a Pessac Leognan Chateau Lespault Martillac 2009.
The dinner tasting menu is 115 euros ($140); the one for lunch is 59 ($75) euros. The hotel also has a second fine dining restaurant I’Oiseau Blanc that specializes in what the French call “farm to fork” cuisine with indoor and outdoor terrace seating and a casually elegant aviator theme. ■