The only problem I have with Tang is that I don’t get to the place often enough! This restaurant is on the top of my list for delicious, precise and digestible cuisine. And all of those are things that I like and look for in a restaurant. And the exoticism of the recipes is like a free trip for the senses to south East Asia and China.
Crab meet and taro root
Tang uses Taro root a lot. And I like that. Its sort of like a cross between a lotus root, a sweet potato and a chestnut. It has a starchy texture and a fair amount of intrinsic sweetness to its flavor. I’d never seen him do chips out of it, but it worked really well with the crab meat which also has a fairly sweet flavor. The crab brought freshness to the taro. And the crispiness of the chips gave energy to the crab.
taro root and white truffle oil
Taro root with white truffle oil
This is one of his signature amuse bouches. The sweetness of the taro is a perfect vehicle for the gamy complex (almost intoxicating) truffle.
Noodles with shitake mushrooms
Very South-East Asian in style. Some small shrimps in there gave a delicate taste of the sea. And shitakes don’t give a lot of juice but boy are they packed with flavor and have a slight spiciness to them.
This Abalone dish was new. The most finely sliced abalone I’d ever seen. (Someone must have a really sharp knife in that kitchen!) And the Abalone was very expertly cooked-very tender. However, I did not feel that the dish put the abalone flavor forward enough. It was hidden by a chicken aroma and flavor that must have come from the sauce.
Scallop with black sesame
This is fantastic! One small bite packed with the sweet sea flavor of the scallop and the spiciness of ginger and black sesame. Very long and complex.
Turbot and broccoli with ginger
The turbot here is perfectly cooked. Even though it is slightly crispy on the outside, the inside remains very moist firm in texture. The ginger juice makes the fish sing with energy and spiciness. (The broccoli is there because we asked tang to throw some veggies in somewhere along the way, but broccoli and ginger go rather well together…I’ll have to try that at home one day.)
The famous langoustines
These were requested specifically by a member of our party who said she could not leave the restaurant without having had them. How do you like that for popular demand! Cooking time is as good as it gets. Firm but super moist and as full of flavor as any langoustine I have had. We found them best on their own, without the sesame sauce, which was a little too sweet and took away from the purity of the langoustines.
Ze Canard Pekinois (Peking duck)
One of the all time classics at Tang. Assembled by placing a thin rice crepe on your plate, spreading one tea spoon of the duck sauce with all sorts of spices and slight smoky soy notes, adding a few finely chopped leeks and topping it off with the crispy skin of the duck –full of delicious duck fat- and perfectly spiced moist duck breast meat.
It is quite a rich dish- especially by texture and concentration of aromas- not so much by fattiness of the ingredients. Also, this dish was made for Bordeaux! (The spices to go with the smoky, peppery, meaty dish. The tannins to cut through the richness)….which brings me to my next subject: the wines. This Peking duck is so subtle and precise that a lot of people used to large sized, more peasanty like interpretations are left perplexed.
The wine list here used to be really, really good especially for old-ish Bordeaux. Now the list has been severely cut back, but there are still some great finds. We started with the 2002 Roederer Rosé. Its not often that you see this Rosé on wine lists. The colour was sort of salmon (orangey pink) and the nose quite subdued. But the mouth was very expressive with lots of pink flower petals and red currant jellies with an oh! so dry finish. A perfect wine to get our juices flowing.
We followed with a Pessac-Leognan Chateau La Louvière Rouge 1998. It was a little smoky but with a fantastic freshness expressed with lots of red currants and red flowers. The mouth was very mineral with lots of salt and pepper giving a lot of energy.
The only problem was it went so well with the food that it didn’t last long. We enjoyed it so much that we almost got a second bottle….
….but we decided to vary our pleasures, both physical and intellectual and order something different. A 1999 St Julien 4eme Grand Cru Classé Chateau Talbot. It was richer and denser than the La Louvière with a lot of more cherry skins and other cooked red fruits. Yes, it was more cooked in the nose. The tannins seemed sweet and ripe when we first tasted it with a lot of black pepper. Pretty soon, though the black pepper turned to more of a baked earth tannic aspect. Ultimately it was less pleasurable than the La Louvière (and a wine to drink quickly or to be numerous to share it.)
Charlie Tang is a man of taste. Of Chinese origin, raised in Cambodia, he runs the front of the house with his wife but he knows taste. He invests in taste by visiting all of the top chefs in France and around the world (S.E. Asia and East Asia) with his wife and often with his chef. He and his chef work very closely to create the recipes of his menu.
One of the best restaurants in all Paris. Some of the plate presentations and portion sizes make some Chinese clients think it is westernized Asian cooking. But the flavors and spices are decidedly Chinese with some S.E. Asian influence and top French restaurant finesse.