I live in the arrondissement that is often indicated on funny Parisian maps as a total boredom, meaning that nothing ever happens there. There’s no buzz, no popular cafés, no hipster joints. To defend it from these accusations, I can testify that there are some pretty good restaurants and great quality bakeries, there’s the Chinese quarter and the famous Butte aux cailles neighbourhood just around the corner. I’m only a short walk away from the beautiful park Montsouris and the diverse architecture of the Cité Internationale Universitaire, an immense student campus for which I can proudly say I am a former resident. But the truth is, when I want to experience new things and be a part of the rush and new happenings in the city I have to take the metro to various other parts of town. I don’t mind doing it however, because I could go anywhere for a good cop of coffee or to eat in a place with good food and friendly service.
One of the popular quarters in Paris is Canal St. Martin neighbourhood, localised in the north-east of the city, in the 10th arrondissement. The canal is surrounded with numerous cafés and restaurants and come the sunny days, the quays are packed with people with drinks in their hands hanging around with friends after work.
One of the places that overlooks the canal is Siseng, a small restaurant carrying the name of its owner and chef of Asian origin. Siseng is special about the fact that it draws inspiration from Asian cuisine, offering a fusion of Asian tastes in a relaxed and modern surrounding decorated with brick walls, wooden tables and large black windows for a direct view of the canal.
The selection of food is not vast but everything on the menu is rather tempting : from three varieties of spring rolls, bo bun, tom kha kai (Thai coconut soup) and a variety of side dishes such as vegetable tempura, rice balls and sweet potato fries to the – and now we get to the speciality of the house and the reason for their popularity – Bao burgers.
Bao or baozi is a Chinese white brioche-like steamed bun that come with various filings. This soft white buns (I recently read a quirky comment someone made calling them happy clouds) finally came to replace the traditional burger bun around the world and it was a matter of time for the concept to come to Paris.
At Siseng, there is a choice between two Bao’s and each is a perfect combination of different flavours. The Kai Bao, a Japanese style panko-crusted chicken fillet with roasted red peppers, a blend of Thai spices (coconut milk and basil) and a touch of occidental -home-made coleslaw, is impeccably elaborated and offers a balanced level of flavours. The Bao 5 épices, a beef Bao marinated in five spice powder with tamarind sauce and fried onions is an exciting alternative to standard beef burgers. Apparently Siseng also proposes Tofu Bao burger since January. Sauces that accompany spring rolls and sides are prepared with an original blend of spices and condiments that carry sweet-tangy-savory notes.
The drinks are no less exciting. There is a good selection of saké and quite original cocktails (think wasabi, kumquat, kaffir lime, cilantro and lemon grass) served throughout the day. You can also opt for non-alcoholic drinks prepared with home-made syrups which don’t lack inventiveness either (chrysanthemum flower syrup for example).
The service is kind and relaxed and trying their best given the place is sometimes overpacked. Prepare to queue to be seated, the experience will be worth a short wait.
82 Quai de Jemmapes