Friday, May 8, 2009

Heart's Delight In Paris

I am a big fan of dim sum and while I didn't set out to go to Paris and dine on Asian cuisine, a craving for just that prompted me to ask on Egullet if there were notable options for dim sum and other Chinese restaurants in Paris. This thread gave me more than a few options of places to try.

Since I wasn't sure that Steve would be as interested as I in spending a meal in Paris on dim sum I headed to town for lunch on my own yesterday while he was at the office.

I decided on New Nioulaville on Rue de l'Orillon in the 11th.

When I arrived shortly before 2 PM, there were only two tables in the restaurant and I found it a little shabbier than I was expecting. None the less, despite the hesitations I felt, I had driven 45 minutes to get there so I was committed to staying.

My first two choices from the steam cart were Boulettes de Crevettes and Rouleaux Porc Hache et Crevette al Sauce Huitres.

The Boulettes de Crevettes or Shrimp Balls were light and tasty. The shrimp had no off or chemical taste and the fresh spring peas were a delightful touch. I liked the ground shrimp ball and was glad I opted for them over a covered dumpling.

My second selection was Rouleaux Porc Hache et Crevette al Sauce Huitres or chopped pork and shrimp roll with oyster sauce. These tasty and skillfully seasoned rolls were wrapped in the most perfect tofu skin I've had in a while. Notice how nice and dark the tofu skin is? I love the flavor that comes through when the skin is cooked to that brown color vs. the paler skin that sometimes covers rolls. These rolls were exceptional.

Next was an order of Travers de Porc a la Sauce Haricote Noir or ribs with black bean sauce. No, this wasn't a half-potion rather I forgot to snap a shot until I had taken my fill of the dish. These were without a doubt the best spare-rib tips I've ever had. The tips seemed to have been velveted before cooking; they had a thin, slightly gummy (in a good way) coating that allowed the black bean sauce to cling to the meat. They were cooked to the point where the fat became creamy and the gristle soft, incredible. The black bean sauce was perfect- salty and savory and the beans were fermented to just the right tang. While I was able to limit myself to one piece of each of the first two dishes, I had a hard time stopping myself with this basket of goodness.

The Carres de Navet Blanc or turnip cakes were decent although not my favorite version of the fritters. I admit, it would be next to impossible for any turnip cake to live up to those from Wonton Gourmet and BBQ, my fave Chinese place in Cleveland but even putting those aside, these were decent but not exceptional. The positive was the nice crisp exterior while the negatives were the lack of creaminess on the inside and the fact that I personally did not care for their sour sausage.

Even though I had restrained myself from sampling more than one of each dish thus far (except for the ribs) I was fairly full. I still however wanted to try some of the fried offerings to complete my experience with dim sum at New Nioulaville. I asked my server for suggestions of the best fried items on the menu and he responded that their best items were the steamed one but chose two fried offerings for me none the less.

This first fried item is taro filled with sweet and savory ground meat. The exterior was delightfully crisp and the under layer was very soft and creamy and the filling was well seasoned. This selection did not thrill me personally but that is a matter of my own taste and no testament to how well it was executed.

My last plate were these fried shrimp dumplings. The filling was the same ground shrimp as my first shrimp ball but tucked into a wonton type of wrapper then fried and served with sweet mayo. Again, not my favorite but perfectly acceptable. The positives were that the filling was so good and that the mayo was not overly sweet as it often is in other places.

My lunch at New Nioulaville was a very enjoyable experience. I am happy that adventure won out over hesitation.

The area of the 11th that is home to New Nioulaville has an interesting mix of cultures with a significant North African/Tunisian community as well as orthodox Jews and a large Muslim/Islamic presence. I am eager to spend a little more time exploring the area.

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