Paris Opening: Shang Palace

With Monsieur Sarkozy carefully courting Chinese favor, and China’s newly minted elite lusting after French luxury goods, the Parisian debut of Hong Kong based Shangri-La hotels in late 2010 was instilled with diplomatic gravitas. Its location, in a fittingly grandiose 19th Century mansion (once home to a grand-nephew of Napoleon himself) in the 16th, gives it proximity to the city’s rarefied couture houses.

And the detente has now been made fully complete with the opening of the hotel’s swish Shang Palace restaurant, the first genuine haute Cantonese restaurant in the capital. Amidst glittering chandeliers and ethereal artistic reminders of Imperial China, Frank Xu’s menu makes no concessions to Western palettes. Rather, everything from crispy suckling pig to lion’s head soup is done to sublime authenticity. Three private dining rooms are named for the Tang, Ming and Qing dynasties, for those nights when only the most regal treatment will do.

Score one for 21st Century Sino-French diplomacy.

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