Late last year Jean-Michel Lorain, of La Côte Saint Jacques in France, became the first Chef with three Michelin Stars to open in Bangkok. And he sent an A-list team to oversee the launch. J’aime is run by Jean-Michel’s daughter, maître d’ Marine, and her partner chef Amerigo Sesti, a couple who met while working at another three-star restaurant, the Roux family’s Waterside Inn at Bray in the UK. And what a show they’re presenting.
Ornamental tables are mounted on stands formed like upside down chandeliers; the ceiling is a parquet floor that presents a 3D optical illusion; and a central area partitioned by beaded curtains has no function, it’s just space. Above it are screw holes in the ceiling awaiting delivery of a piano which will hang upside down from the ceiling. The place is all upside down.
It’s a large square room with full wall windows on two sides, a grand bar on another, and opposite an open kitchen. The floor is marble tiled, classically shaped chairs are in modernist grey and black, and the tables are dressed in linen. The whole exudes a relaxed, classical formality.
The place settings have knives, forks and chopsticks, with a lazy Susan in the centre, which shows the intention for Asian-style servings to share. From a short a la carte menu and two tasting menus (six courses, B2880, plus B1050 with wine pairing; and nine courses B3850/B1400), some dishes – soups, for instance – come as single plates, others are three or four servings in small bowls.
Standout dishes include red pepper and blood orange soup (B300), an unusual, light and refreshing combination with spicy depth. The citrus background is subtle and creamy salt arrives via goat’s cheese that has begun to melt in the warm broth. Baby onions add caramel sweetness and there’s a pleasant hit of rosemary and thyme from Provencal herb foam.
We drank the lively Macon-Village Blanc, Louis Jadot 2011 (B350), one of eight wines by the glass (B290-B450), plus three sparklers (B390-B1200). The wider list (B1750-B14500) has its largest selection from France, but with labels too from many other regions.
Other good plates included razor clams and sea urchin cream (B600), the beautifully cooked, finely sliced clams presented on half shells coated with gelée and topped with lots of colourful garnishes. From seafood to shellfood of the earth, countrystyle Burgundy snails (B980), likewise cooked tenderly, were served out of their shells in three small pots. They came with creamy parsley foam and a rich, lingering tomato fondue that was so good we tried to make it ourselves at home the following day! Among the desserts (three pieces/B420, five/B700) are a gateau opera with top quality chocolate and coffee flavours, and a delicately crisp mille-feuille Napoleon served with sharp berries against the cream.
J’aime is an exciting venue that lives up to expectations with a pleasingly casual ambiance and exquisitely presented food packed with vibrant colours and flavours.
U Sathorn Bangkok
105,105/1 Soi Ngam Duphli, Rama IV | 0 2119 4888
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