The best way to understand the underground appeal of Empire Celeste is by comparing it to another well-known Parisian Chinese restaurant, Davé. Offering run-of-the-mill Chinese cuisine in a cramped, kitchy red interior, Davé is notoriously popular with the fashion set. Its walls are festooned with images of the proprietor arm-in-arm with Yves Saint-Laurent, Mick Jagger, and Kim Kardashian. Empire Celeste, run by three generations of the Wang family since the restaurant’s founding in 1953, is the Davé of another peculiar subculture: the natural wine crowd.
The Latin Quarter gets a bad rap from those who only know the tourist-clogged rues de la Huchette or Pot de Fer. If you haven’t been back in a few years, you’ve missed the food and wine renaissance that’s taken place amid the Roman and Medieval monuments.