Outstanding hostess, always cheerful and mischievous, Chef Sy Ly is also an amazing cook who will often come from the kitchen, to great the guests. As a true business woman with an iron hand in a silk glove, Chef Ly shares her time between two Parisian restaurants, one on Niel Avenue and the other one, on Lord Byron street by the Champs Elysees. She is the one who gives her sous- chefs the best kept family recipes.
“Behind every dish, there is a story,” says Sy Ly….
A family story
For four generations, Mrs Ly’s family, who came from a small island of the Canton – “Hai Nan” – were working in the world of hospitality. Mrs Sy Ly’s great-grandfather was already working as a cook for a large bourgeois family before migrating to Malaysia, Singapore, and then Cambodia, where he acquired some Kampot pepper plantations.
His grandfather and father, were also be born in Cambodia and also learnt how to cook before they family fled the country in 1975, to take refuge in Hong Kong. This is where Mrs Ly was born, and was introduced to great Asian cuisine by her father and grandmother. Thanks to her education, and her father’s business networks, Mrs Ly decided to leave Asia for the West and finally settled in Paris where she opened, with her husband Alain Ly, her first restaurant in 1988 in the 8th arrondissement.
“Chez Ly” quickly became a reference in the world of Chinese gastronomy and an institution in western Paris where gourmets love to meet their friends, family or have business meals around a round table copiously garnished with dishes to share.
“Chez Ly” soon opened other addresses in the 8th then the 17th districts with as much success. The last opening was for the Lord Byron street restaurant inaugurated in 2014. A beautiful location close to the world famous ‘’Avenue des Champs-Elysées’’, with a capacity of over 120 covers in a very small intimate setting.
As soon as my guest and I arrived, Mrs Ly welcomed us in person and made us feel right at home. As the menu is very extensive, we trusted her to serve us her own selection of recommended dishes. We definitely were in for a treat and even left with take-away boxes as we were not able to finish everything.
Mrs Ly has surrounded herself with the best chefs in their field. Her team has two Cantonese chefs: One who specialises in the preparation of stir-fried wok dishes, the other one, in steamed dishes. A Thai chef dedicated to preparing Siam specialties, while the other one is dedicated to cooking duck, Peking or Cantonese roasts.
The chicken comes in crisp, grilled, lemongrass, Thai or steamed to keep it soft. It is accompanied by soy sauce, sweet and sour, caramel or Sichuanese sauce. Fish, sea bass or bream are served in a roasted or steamed oven.
As my guest and I do not eat meat, we were served amazing seafood, fish and vegetarian dishes. Pescetarians and vegetarians will also find great alternatives because Chinese cuisine have a lot of vegetable based recipes, and use them in all their meals. Chez Ly offers more than a dozen vegetarian dishes, such as the “Pot of Vegetables Buddha”, not to mention salads and vegetable specialties, noodles and sautéed rice.
Seafood has a great place in Cantonese cuisine and à la carte Chinese restaurants. Mrs Ly, as in Hong Kong, uses dried abalone to impart a distinct taste to her Chinese soups. It is a technique that allows to concentrate the flavours and keep them longer. They are then cooked in a scented broth with scallops and mushrooms.
Stemming from four generations of chefs, the Ly family has many specialties that Mrs Ly has carefully preserved and regularly serves. Amongst the numerous meat based signature dishes, there is a very popular ‘’Sichuan pepper beef’’. Another house specialty is king prawns with salt and pepper: known to be very crunchy on the outside, and soft on the inside. Not to be missed either, ‘’the duck roast Cantonese’’, and different from the ‘’Peking duck’’, which is crispier.
Last, but not least, ‘’Chez Ly’’ wine cellar is said to be one of the best kept secrets in Paris. Wine lovers and connoisseurs meet regularly at Chez Ly to feast around a great bottle, collected with love by Alain Ly, Mrs Ly’s husband. Great wines from Bordeaux, Burgundy, rare vintages of the great Champagne houses and precious flasks from the greatest French vineyards. Mr Ly’s wine list will make your head spin.
Chez Ly, is a reference in the world of Asian cuisine in general, and more so in Chinese cuisine. All of their establishments are run by a family member keeping up with Mrs Ly’s family tradition. I would highly recommend the Lord Byron street restaurant as a ‘must try’ if you ever visit the French capital.
To find out more about Chez Ly: https://www.chezly.fr
12pm – 2.40pm
7pm – 11.30pm
Words by: Karine Laudort