Are you ready for a culinary adventure that will tantalize your taste buds and warm your soul? Welcome to XiaoLongKan, the hidden gem of Chinese hot pot in the heart of Paris.
Nestled in a charming street in the 2nd district of Paris, this restaurant beckons with the promise of authentic Sichuan cuisine and an unforgettable dining experience.
We’ll see in this review if this place is one you should try or even make your main spot for hot pot.
XiaoLongKan is perhaps the restaurant in Paris specializing in hot pot with the most reviews on Google Maps.
I don’t know if this is a good way to judge a restaurant, but its location definitely makes it look special.
The restaurant is located in the 2nd district of Paris, near Place de la Bourse. It’s quite a central and expensive place to have a restaurant. It’s also not the best area to find a parking spot. Fortunately, we are in August, and most Parisians are on vacation.
When we looked for a hot pot restaurant, two came out of the list: XiaoLongKan and Chongqing. I think what made us choose XiaoLongKan was the interior decoration.
Let’s be honest, it really makes you travel to another continent. They really put an effort into this, and it’s the kind of details that make all the difference, especially for us who have to drive 30 minutes to get there.
The tables, chairs, and all the furniture inside the restaurant are reminiscent of Chinese traditional interiors. Absolutely every detail is taken care of; even the napkins have the brand on them.
The restaurant is quite big; there are tons of rooms, perhaps between 5 and 6. All of these rooms have perhaps between 50 and 100 seats.
We were quickly seated at one of the tables in the back. The first waitress showed us a table in the center of everything. We were a bit scared since we have a kid and wanted to find a quiet space.
Also, we came in with a stroller, which was a bit hard to fold and store. Fortunately, people around us were nice enough to let us put it between chairs.
The table, the stove, and the overall set-up are very safe; there’s close to no chance for the boiling water to spill over you, and that’s a good thing when you have a baby.
Like in Gogi, the restaurant uses a tablet for you to order your different plates to boil in the hot pot. One thing was odd: some dishes didn’t have a price because they had a half or full portion.
You can actually chose to split your broth in two or three different flavors.
There are actually tons of different types of meat, but beef is, for us, the best meat when it comes to hot pot. Thin and tender is the way to go. They also have some marinated beef, which is always an interesting choice.
There’s also a selection of seafood that you can choose from the menu. I think squid, shrimp, and fish are sort of classics. Note that shrimp will come with the skin and will need to be peeled off, which is honestly a bit of a hassle.
The restaurant also offers some assorted plates, which is a good idea since you don’t necessarily need a full plate of one particular vegetable but more like a bit of everything.
You do still have the choice of getting a full or half portion of a single vegetable. This is handy for tofu, or, as I’ve discovered, tofu skin.
As side dishes or accompaniments, you’ll have the classic noodles, vermicelli, Chinese donuts, ravioli, and even some rice bowls.
Desserts are present on the menu; too bad most people will be full and won’t have any more space to try this section of the menu.
You’ll have plenty of choice when it comes to soft drinks. There are the classic soda beverages but also some interesting Chinese soft drinks. I think you’ll need at least two drinks to get through the hot pot.
Being in France, you’ll still have the option for hot drinks, such as coffee or tea. I don’t know why in France they just love to drink coffee.
Rice alcohol in Asia is a must. My father-in-law and I never go to drink without one of these, and I have to admit that it really gives another vibe to eating a hot pot. It becomes more of a celebration of life than just a dinner.
But when it comes to dinner with my wife, we love to drink something lighter, such as beer. Since I am driving to come to this restaurant, it’s a far better choice as well.
The broths or flavors of the hot pot we chose were mushroom and tomato. Usually, people take a slightly spicy broth, perhaps a level one spicy broth. Since we have a kid, we want to make sure he can eat as well.
The mushroom soup was very light in taste, whereas the tomato flavor was very strong. I think overall, it was a good mix to balance things out.
The plates came one by one, and the marinated tender beef came first. It’s basically the version of meat you’ll find in pho. Usually, we eat this one slightly bloody to keep the tenderness.
This particular beef was good; it wasn’t the best meat I’ve ever tried, but it was slightly perfumed. Subtly enough to be noticed and appreciated.
This cut of beef has more fat and, when cooked, will taste more like a chuck square cut. This is, for me, the safest choice in a hot pot, period.
Like I’ve said before, shrimp are a classic in hot pot, but to be honest, sometimes I wish they came already stripped of their skin. It’s not an enjoyable experience for us to peel off the skin, yet it is a sign of freshness.
At home with my parents, my mom always removes the skin, which makes it more likely that people will actually eat some shrimp.
In Vietnam, I am more used to eating some fish-ground mixed balls; these ones have a different form and taste slightly less seasoned. But still, it’s something enjoyable that can be added to the hot pot.
This one was a new experience for us; we had never tried it, and it looked quite interesting on the menu. At the end of the day, if it’s not that different from the mixture inside the dumplings, there are still some slight differences in taste.
These tasted good, in my opinion, and even cooked cucumber actually tasted good.
I think the highlights of this hot pot were these tofu skins. Mixed with the tomato soup, it was such a treat. The skin absorbs all sorts of liquid, so you can really taste the broth.
The lamb was decent, though not exceptional. I feel like lamb chops on a barbecue still taste better than boiled, but this is true for any kind of meat.
As Vietnamese, we always tend to end our hot pot experience with some Mi Hao Hao. In this case, they were serving some high-quality instant noodles.
These taste very good, although we didn’t catch it on the menu; they had some real homemade noodles, which is always a better option in my opinion.
When it comes to the sauce, it’s very different from what Vietnamese are used to. Even when I eat at home in France with my parents, we use sukiyaki sauce, which is most probably Thai or Japanese.
Here we are in a Chinese hot pot, so the way to go is to try the Chinese sauce. Unfortunately, we didn’t know how to make it.
So we ended up trying all the sauces one by one and discovering that they were too strong to be eaten alone. The green garlic sauce was so strong that one spoon of it would be enough to get rid of a vampire family.
Fortunately, we ended up asking one of the staff members to make us a sauce, which he did, and it was delicious. No kidding, it really was something that was very concentrated, strong, and crispy at the same time. It really made a big change in our experience.
8.5 out of 10.
This is perhaps one of the best hot pots I’ve tried. I’ll be straight: I am not a big fan of hot pot and therefore not a specialist.
What I liked about this hot pot was that the taste felt concentrated and strong. More precisely, the sauce and the tomato broth When you eat boiled veggies and meat, this is a must, I believe.
The place looked really amazing. We felt like traveling in China for a night, and some of the customers were actually Chinese, which is always a good sign that the restaurant is not westernized.
The staff was very helpful—so much more than in a traditional restaurant. At the end of the day, hot pot has pretty much the same ingredients anywhere. This is no different here.
When you come to XiaoLongKan, you are paying a premium for the location and the atmosphere, which are amazing. You are also getting great service, like we are used to in Vietnam.
This was a great experience, and we didn’t regret choosing this particular restaurant to celebrate my wife’s birthday.
Address : 8 Rue Saint-Marc, 75002 Paris
Phone : 01 42 60 87 14
Website : xiaolongkan-hotpot.fr
Facebook : https://www.facebook.com/xiaolongkanparis/