Another venture backed by a Michelin-starred chef comes to town: J’AIME by Jean-Michel Lorain.by Anita Zaror
Foodies in Bangkok are being spoiled by a wave of chefs either holding Michelin stars or having worked in Michelin-starred establishments around the world, who are coming to Thailand to open or to be a part of restaurants that deserve a visit: La Scala, Brasserie 9, Aziamendi, Vogue Lounge Bangkok, and L’Atelier de Joël Robuchon are just a few, while J’AIME by Jean-Michel Lorain (●U Sathorn Hotel; 02 119 4899; www.jaime-bangkok.com), will be the focus of our attention this time.
Opened this past November, J’AIME’s menu is inspired by Lorain’s experience and success, which granted his hotel and restaurant, La Côte Saint Jacques, in France, nothing less that three Michelin stars.
However, J’AIME’s concept is different to that of the restaurant located 90 minutes from Paris. Through his Italian protégé and resident chef at J’AIME, Amerigo Sesti, and her daughter Marine as front of house, Lorain is making sure a standard is maintained. The French fare served here, however, has a twist: it combines contemporary and classic French dishes and techniques, which are served on a shared Asian table. The restaurant’s décor, based on an “upside down” interior design concept—that features chandeliers used as tables and a piano that will hang from the ceiling, among others—also emphasize the fact that they are trying to do things differently.
The menu at J’AIME consists of soups; appetizers; fish, shellfish, and crustaceans; meat and poultry; and desserts. We started with a red pepper and blood orange soup with goat’s cheese and Provencal herb foam (THB 300). Although I’m not a very big fan of foams, this dish was one of my favorites of the evening, and definitely one of the highlights of the menu with its tangy and creamy contrast of flavors. We continued with an ocean oyster terrine with confit shallots, red wine gelée, and spinach (THB 910); this dish is one of the stars of Lorain’s restaurant back in France and, hence, is included in J’AIME’s menu as well. Plated as a true work of art, you won’t guess what you’re about to eat until you have a piece of the brownish gelée in your mouth. A very interesting element of this dish is an oyster leaf (mertensia maritima), also known as “vegetarian oyster.” You have to try it as you’ll be nicely surprised … it’s not only for decoration!
Next came a fresh tuna tartar with marinated eggplant, green tomatoes, and spicy cucumber bubbles (THB 510) and a dish of pearl barley and arugula salad with cured egg yolk and Parmesan spume (THB 450), again one of my favorites of the evening for its colorful, inventive presentation and layers of textures and flavors that come in as a pleasant, refreshing break in between courses.
Onto the seafood. Being that scallops are one of my favorite types of shellfish, the pan-seared scallops with chanterelle mushrooms and cappuccino-style foam (THB 1,260), perfectly seared, was simply delicious. Thai people will probably love the lightly-seared cod on a creamy soft crab brandade with confit tomatoes and chili oil (THB 1,120) – don’t underestimate the “chili” part.
Then, pan-seared foie gras on lightly mashed new potatoes and Gaeta olives (THB 920), which works well both as an appetizer or an entrée, followed by the Bourguignonne beef cheeks with marinated onions and a coriander salad (THB 1,550) to end a fabulous dinner in a traditional French style.
For dessert you want to go for the three- or five-piece sets (THB 420 and THB 700 respectively), and make sure your selection includes the chocolate and coffee gateau Opera, the passion fruit soufflé, and the mille-feuille Napoleon.
And one thing that needs to be said about presentation: Lorain and his team don’t take it for granted. Although he was back in France when we visited the restaurant, we had the chance to speak to chef Sesti, who told us they are currently looking for local producers that can produce certain products for them, instead of having to import 80 percent of the ingredients, which is what they do now.
– There seems to be a new trend of restaurants backed up by Michelin-starred chefs being opened in Bangkok. What do you think about this?
Maybe this is the new marketplace to come to. Perhaps the market is ready for this kind of gastronomy, so the chefs start to arrive and people begin investing and call other chefs to come.
Open daily from 11:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. and from 6 p.m. to 11 p.m.