Q-Tea, an itty-bitty Chinese table in the ninth, has been on my list since the stellar reviews started rolling in early this year, but I only got around to trying it last weekend.
It’s a closet of a space, decorated in polka dots (q cute!) and colors my eleven year-old self would have very much liked to have had in her bedroom. The prices are low (10-13€ for mains), and the husband and wife team who preside over this little lavender domain are utterly kind. In other words, the place has its charms. Unfortunately, the food is not one of them.
We started with Shanghai style dumplings, crisped on the bottom, filled with savory, aromatic pork. They were perfectly fine. They were not, I knew from another source, made on the premises. No matter.
Things went downhill from there. Lion’s head meatballs were bland, wrapped in undercooked cabbage leaves and wading in a wan broth. Eggplant with pork was heavy and under-seasoned, with an odd Italianate note of fennel seed in the meat. An ounce of redemption came with the spicy fish. It was spicy, yes, showered with chopped red chilies, and the fish was delicate and fresh. But there was no depth to the dish; it was all hot high notes.
This was a real head scratcher for me. Was it an off night? Or could it be, as my dining companion suggested, that the state of Chinese food in Paris is so bad that judgments of it are inflated, like grades or ice dancing scores or women’s clothing sizes?
“There has to be good Chinese food in Paris. THERE HAS TO BE,” he said with gravitas, and then near-teary determination: “WE WILL FIND IT.”
Maybe, on different night, it would be at Q-Tea. But I probably won’t return to find out.
Q-Tea 19 rue Notre-Dame-de-Lorette, 75009 Paris, +33 (0)1 55 32 04 68. Closed Sundays.
Read more about Q-Tea on Paris by Mouth.