In my perpetual ‘cool by association’ friendship with Zoe, while she was attending meetings with the World’s 50 Best team, I decided to seek out a nice lunch for my first meal in Bangkok. Fortunately, I didn’t have to look far. The Fine Dining Lovers association was hosting a ‘four hands’ lunch at the nearby Mandarin Oriental. I did my research a bit late in the game and ended up requesting a booking 72 hours out from my trip — when the lunch was already fully booked. Fortunately, a few hours before my flight to Bangkok, the team managed to find a place for me.
Given I’m coming up on A LOT of tasting menus and this was a special one off meal, I’m simply going to break down two of the dishes, my favorite and the one that didn’t work. As I didn’t get a chance to sample the regular La Normandie menu, it feels unfair to make this an accurate review of their venue (lovely as it was). Furthermore, if you’d like to know more about any of the nine courses, please feel free to ask and I would be happy to share my thoughts.
I should also preface and mention the two chefs behind the four hands, Chef Julien Royer (of two-Michelin star, Odette, in Singapore) and Chef Arnaud Dunand Sauthier (executive chef, Le Normandie). Both are accomplished gentlemen and I thought they did well to create a cohesive tasting menu between them. As a bonus, they personally presented some of their dishes and circulated the dining room to chat with guests during the lunch.
Best: Egg Yolk ‘Tart’ (Cevennes Onion, Mushroom Ketchup, Tuber Melanosporum)
For the fourth course, on paper, I wasn’t sure exactly what to expect. And even in photos (below), for my only note, I don’t think this dish visually packed the culinary punch it delivered. The layer of flaky Japanese buckwheat, dotted with mushroom ketchup gave no hint to the warm egg yolk lying underneath. As I’ve raved to anyone who will listen in the past day, this dish is exactly what I think of when I think of ‘savory.’ The creaminess of the egg yolk combined with the tartness of the onion and richness of Jamon ham all added up to a perfect mouthful of savory notes. Although there is still a lot of incredible food to go this week, the Egg Yolk Tart by Chef Julien is on my short list for favorite dishes in February.
Worst: Foie Gras (Belon Oyster, Jerusalem Artichoke, Bergamont)
While I’ve mentioned my dislike for Foie in the past (which, as an ingredient, BTW, was redeemed later in the day…more on that later), this mushy rendering of Foie gras with bits of oyster was a mouthful I could barely get through. The combined gelatinous textures were enough to put me off the dish almost immediately. Where the egg yolk tart used flaky pastry to add a variety of consistency, the overwhelming ‘foie’ flavor and rubbery bits of briny oyster simply couldn’t be saved in the fifth course. I persevered for the sake of the broth (which was the only good thing about this dish), but in the end, had to simply not finish the majority of the portion (rare for me, especially on a tasting menu). I suppose if you prefer foie forward courses, this might be for you, but I was ready to quickly move on.
The rest of the meal had other highlights — perfectly cooked BBQ Pigeon (with a delightful hazelnut sauce), a Langoustine cream and Herring Roe puffed pastry, a not too sweet dessert, and well-paired wines. As a solo diner, I also had a blast people watching (and perhaps listening in on a few conversations).
Overall, I sincerely enjoyed the meal. I thought the service was genuine and thoughtful and the pacing of the meal was a perfect tempo (Dubai restaurants, please take note). I appreciated the level of technique in all the dishes and wouldn’t hesitate to return for the regular menu.
Have you been to Le Normandie? What’s your favorite thing to order?