Okay, so I am hella late on this one! Siseng has been the talk of Paris for a while now and although it was on my list to try, it wasn’t until my friend M told me she had been to the trendy Asian fusion food bar located on the Canal Saint-Martin (and gushed about how amazing it was!), that I decided I had to get over there ASAP! Luckily, it didn’t take much convincing to get her to come back with me last Wednesday night.
We arrived at around 8 pm and there was already a line-up of people waiting outside. No surprise there, because like Hansel, this place is so hot right now (sorry…Zoolander reference)! Although I don’t usually like waiting (they don’t take reservations), it wasn’t too cold out and there was no way we were going to leave without trying one of their specialties: the Bao Burger (I will explain what this is in a second). One of the waiters came outside to check how many groups were to be seated and surprise, surprise, he turned out to be a friend of M’s from school. We asked him if we could order a drink to help us pass the time, and he promptly agreed and brought us the menu to look at.
I was immediately impressed with their selection of exotic and creative cocktails. I chose a cocktail named after the restaurant (10 Euros), and M chose to skip the alcohol and ordered a Kaffir lime, ginger ale, and lemon leaf syrup flavored green tea (5 Euros). My Siseng cocktail was delicious and refreshing with a generous amount of halved kumquats and coriander leaves floating in a mix of gin, lemon, ginger ale and grapefruit juice.
Before we knew it (okay…it was about a 30 minute wait) we were shown to a seat at the long bar lining the wall. The décor was perfect in my eyes: unfinished wood panels and exposed bricks, a spiral staircase in the center of the room, a bar stocked with saké and other drinks, dangling light bulbs throughout, and the most gorgeous light fixture of what looked like entwined birch roots or branches. I also really liked the elaborate graphic art featured on their menus and on one of the walls, designed by Soba (Sophia Babari). The space has a very natural loft feel, and is filled with Parisian hipsters!
The wait outside had worked up our appetite so luckily the food arrived relatively quickly! We both ordered bao burgers (10 Euros) which feature a baozi (a white and fluffy steamed Chinese bun) as the bread. M ordered the Kai Bao Burger (a breaded chicken filet with a basil coconut milk sauce, red pepper confit, a light coleslaw and fresh basil) and I chose the 5 Spice Bao Burger (beef patty marinated with 5 spices, tamarind and caramel sauce, tempura onion rings, onion confit, and spinach and arugula leaves). We also ordered a side of sweet potato fries each (4 Euros), which were just the right thickness and were accompanied by their deliciously sweet caramel and tamarind sauce.
The burgers looked like little clouds floating on the Japanese ceramic plates and biting into them was heavenly! At first, the taste of my burger reminded me a little of the traditional cha siu baos, or BBQ pork buns (that I used to eat all the time back home in Vancouver), but due to the fusion with the other ingredients, they had an amazing and individual flavor. I tried some of M’s burger and it was equally good, but lighter and less sweet. I admit that I slightly preferred it to mine.
Surprisingly, I was actually very full after finishing, which often isn’t a usual occurrence at trendy eateries. The beef burger is definitely more filling than the chicken, probably due to the sweetness of the sauce. It wasn’t too long before we felt like we were being watched…and we were: there was still a steady line-up of sad people outside staring longingly into the window. So we promptly asked for the bill and left our seats. There was no need to prolong their suffering!
If you don’t mind a wait, then this place is definitely worth a try for a burger unlike any other in Paris. They equally have a range of other dishes, such as a bo bun or a bento, but right now it’s all about the bao burger! I’ll definitely be back this summer to enjoy a burger and a glass of their watermelon juice (or another of their yummy cocktails) along the Canal Saint-Martin! Yes, they do take-out! Can’t wait!
82 Quai de Jemmapes, 75010 Paris
+33 (0)1 42 06 62 54
4 kumquats out of 5