I have been fortunate enough to visit many Alain Ducasse restaurants but I was certainly in for a surprise when I visited Blue by Alain Ducasse in Bangkok, Thailand. Located in ICONSIAM, Bangkok’s newest retail and leisure destination overlooking the Chao Phraya River, it is the last palace you expect to find a Michelin-recognised restaurant. After getting the boat over from Four Seasons Bangkok, arriving on the dock of ICONSIAM was somewhat of a culture shock, dressed for dinner and negotiating a wave of shoppers laden with bags was not my usual route to an elegant night out. However, after finally locating Blue by Alain Ducasse, the stress of the shopping centre fell away, as you step into the art and elegance of French dining.
Blue by Alain Ducasse came about when developer Siam Rivea Company Limited invited Ducasse Paris to create a restaurant for this flagship development that would be quintessentially French, and that would transport guests to a world apart from the bustling Thai capital. Patrick Jouin and Sanjit Manku of Jouin Manku were entrusted with realising this vision through the restaurant’s interior spaces. At the outset of the project, Jouin and Manku began to explore the notion of ‘French’ in the global imagination that would capture its unique essence, quite removed from hackneyed clichés. They refined this to four core traits with which they could play: the bosquets or secluded gardens of the Château de Versailles, the rich and vibrant colour of royal blue, fashion and the art of pleated textiles, and the sparkle and lustre of the chandelier. As they began to consider the situation of the restaurant, occupying a glass-fronted pavilion overlooking the riverside, they also started to consider how they could bring guests on a journey, from the moment of entering Blue by Alain Ducasse to encountering the magnificent expanse of the floor-to-ceiling views across Bangkok.
Beginning this journey, Rachel and I were drawn from the polished stone and glass surfaces of the luxury shopping mall into the welcoming enclosure of a wood-panelled lobby that gave just a hint of what lay beyond. Onwards into the lounge of Blue by Alain Ducasse, an intimate space, utterly secluded from the world, we were surrounded by wood and light, evoking the bosquet, a space of pleasure and privacy carved from nature. Then on to the main dining area, at which point the space opens up dramatically, revealing an elegant room of sumptuous royal blue, silver, and white, with the city of Bangkok laid out before us. In the centre of the room, beneath the chandelier, curved banquette seating encloses tables, with further tables for two, four or six spaced further apart on a rich blue carpet, complemented by the blue fabric of the walls and ceiling too. We both breathed a contented sigh, this was the Alain Ducasse we knew and loved.
We were greeted and taken to our table by Alexander, who went on to introduce us to (always our favourite in a restaurant) the Head Sommelier Morgan. We started with a glass of Alain Ducasse’s own champagne, Brut so sharp, elegant and the perfect start to the meal.
We had the Blue by Alain Ducasse tasting menu, which I always find is a great option when getting to know a chef’s style and use of ingredients, and also allows the Sommelier to show off their flair as to pairings. We started with the amuse bouches of Mediterranean puffs with tuna and pepper, celeriac tacos, Foie Gras mousse with quinoa, smoked beetroot and ham truffle tartlet, English muffin filled with mushroom and mushroom consomme, and oyster from Brittany with yuzu, green apple and cucumber. My favourite, of course, was the Foie Gras, while Rachel really enjoyed the celeriac taco. All were presented so beautifully, tiny little morsels all bite-size and picture perfect, and matched very well with the Alain Ducasse champagne. We then had a palate cleanser of green pea sorbet with sharing brioche baked with olive oil and butter for the Loire. This was super refreshing, tart, and super cold, with a hint of horseradish.
The next course consisted of prawns with a good helping of caviar, presented like a flower, for Rachel, which was delicate with a hint of light smoke. For me, raw scallops with rose and rhubarb tart, raw, fresh, while the rose was like a mild Turkish delight flavour, the rhubarb tart cut through the sweetness of rose and also came with a good helping of caviar. These were matched with a Julien Schaal Grand Cru Rosacker Riesling; complex, taut and mineral with some spice, apricot, lime and pear and a lovely tingling acidity, it matched very well with both dishes.
Following this was salmon in brioche for myself and duck Parmentier for Rachel. The salmon is smoked in-house, chunky but super light and flaky, I loved the sauce creamy which was slightly salty and acidic thus cutting through the fattiness of the salmon. Rachel’s duck was rich with a slight mushroom flavour, the cherry was not sweet, whilst the pastry was super crisp, a very hearty dish with a rich sauce with a silky meaty flavour. Morgan paired mine with a Bourgogne Chardonnay from Eclate De Calcaire 2019, whilst Rachel’s duck was paired with a Domaine Anne-Sophie Dubois Fleurie, both matched perfectly and complimented the flavours.
The tortellini with sweet basil and courgette sauce stuffed with cream cheese and almonds followed, this dish was weirdly acidic but very fresh, we both loved the raw courgette on the bottom and the sweet basil sauce was very good, paired with a Domaine des Ardoisières Argile Blanc 2020. Up next was the Turbot with orange powder, basil and kumquat sauce, the fish was cooked to perfection, while the dust was slightly zingy and the artichoke was like butter, so soft yet packed with flavour. This dish was matched with a Clos du Tue-Boeuf Frileuse Cheverny. The name “Frileuse” means “little cold one” and references the frost-prone vineyard that sits at the very top of the Puzelat estate. This cuvée is made from a third each of fié gris, chardonnay, and sauvignon blanc, which gives aromas of Anjou pear, sweet meadow grass, and minerals.
We moved on to the meat course of Wagyu with Oxtail, the beef was cooked rare while the Oxtai was served in a pot. The sauce was a pan reduction so meaty, the emulsion was smooth and creamy, and the oxtail was soft and beefy making for a very warm and hearty dish, Rachel particularly liked the sweetcorn tartlet. Morgan paired this with a very amusing wine with a very naughty label (google it), the Mephisto Cabernet Franc 2019. The Mephisto nose was full and flattering with freshness and delicate aromas of black fruit and small red berries, currants, blackberries, strawberries, and some peppery notes. On the palate, it starts off fine and smooth, the tannins are velvety so create a flattering and fruity body.
We round off the email with Comte (it wouldn’t be Ducasse without cheese), then a palate cleanser of Kiwi with peaches, sorbet, jelly and lemon balm ice. Then the main event, the world-renowned, and one of my favourite Alain Ducasse dishes, the Rum Baba. Fluffy, light and, because this one is served in Thailand, drowned in rum from Phuket. Matched with a La Grange Tiphaine Buisson Viau, it made for the perfect end to a perfect meal.
Despite the strange navigation to reach Blue by Alain Ducasse, it is easy to see why it constantly appears in Asia’s 50 Best Restaurants. Once you exit the hustle and bustle of the ICONSIAM you enter a world of refined French elegance, from the decor to the food, the ambience to the impeccable service. With the ability to watch the comings and goings of the mighty Chao Phraya River just outside while cocooned by the sumptuous furnishings of Blue by Alain Ducasse, I couldn’t think of a better place to indulge oneself while in Bangkok.
Blue by Alain Ducasse
Unit L101, 1st Floor, ICONLUXE
ICONSIAM Shopping Centre