Low comfort level, high enjoyment level.
My usual advice to those who want to eat at popular lunch spots in Paris is to arrive by 12:30, since French people always eat lunch at 1pm sharp. That doesn’t hold true for Sinseng, however. I got there shortly after noon the other day, and the place was already filling up. By 12:30 it was packed. So my advice is to get there at noon, when it opens.
The menu, a kind of pan-Asian sampler, with everything from Vietnamese bo bun to Japanese tempura, is surprisingly extensive for this kind of place, where the physical comfort level is reduced to a minimum (cramped high tables, hard wooden stools, but in an attractive setting with photos on the walls and a spiral staircase), presumably to keep the tables turning over fast.
We started with the spring rolls with pork marinated in cumin. They were fresh and delicious, but the sauce, made with pineapple and chili, was a revelation. My friend Cathy
and I were both prepared to buy a bottle to go, but unfortunately it wasn’t available.
We then sampled the cromesquis de risotto, a
rich and tasty Italian/Asian fusion dish: deep-fried rice balls with coconut milk and lemongrass.
That was followed by the vegetable tempura, which was very good but not the best I have ever tasted. As Cathy put it, however, “I would eat little pieces of cardboard as long as I could dip them in this sauce.”
We then tried what was supposed to be the pièce de résistance, the bao burger, served on a Chinese steamed bun. It was pretty damn good
with its beef marinated in five spices, caramelized tamarind sauce and “confit” onion (looked like a fried onion to me). The steamed bun is a bit gimmicky, but why not? It looks pretty and makes a change, although it does stick to the teeth a bit.
I can’t report on the desserts. Although there were two on the menu – a house tart and a coconut-milk flan, neither was available that day for some reason. This is, after all, a brand-new restaurant, so perhaps they were experiencing some growing pains.
The next time I go back, and I certainly will, I will skip the Asianized burger and the tempura and go for some of the other appealing dishes like the beef bo bun or the tom kha kaï, a soup of coconut milk, chicken, lemongrass and more. And I will definitely reorder the fantastic spring rolls and fried rice balls.
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