The buzz: Set in the brand-new city hotel U Sathorn, J’aime by Jean-Michel Lorain has beaten Atelier Robuchon to becoming the first restaurant in Bangkok home to a three-Michelin-star chef. Chef Jean-Michel owns one of the most prestigious restaurants in Burgundy, France, the Côte Saint Jacques.
The décor: As you’d expect, refined and elegant. Opulent yet subtle tones of pearly white and purple dominate the room, while tables complete with lazy Susans add an Asian twist. There is a bit of an upside-down theme going on, too, with tables shaped to look like chandeliers running alongside the open kitchen, a stepped ceiling and, on one end of the room, a big chessboard mirror on which Chef de Cuisine Amerigo Sesti represents the king, and maître d Marine Lorain (Jean-Michel Lorain's daughter) the queen.
The food: Jean-Michel Lorain says he wants to replicate his winning recipes from the Côte Saint Jacques—classical, elegant and with a few modern touches—while also adding a few new dishes. Starters include the labor-intensive ocean oyster terrine with confit shallots, Irancy wine gelée and spinach (B910), a refreshing delight from the mother restaurant. For a taste of the old school, try the onion soup with veal shank confit and Gruyère cheese (B350), or Lorain’s clean interpretation of a Burgundy classic: country-style snails with a tomato fondue and parsley emulsion (B980). For mains, the boeuf Bourguignon (beef cheek with marinated onions and coriander salad, B1,550) is both intense and fresh. To accommodate diners wishing to share, any dish can be pre-divided in the kitchen onto smaller plates and then passed around on the lazy Susan.
The drinks: An extensive list of red, white, rosé and sparkling wines from both new and old worlds. The wines are mostly sold in bottles starting at B1,600.
The crowd: We visited prior to its official opening, but given the elegant dining room and location in the middle of the CBD, we’re expecting a pretty stiff business lunch crowd during the day. A service format that’s clearly designed for Thai dining habits suggests it’s looking to attract locals more than hotel guests.