Le Normandie Bangkok at the Mandarin Oriental Hotel has been touted as the best fine dining restaurant in Bangkok ever since it first opened 40 years ago, a time when the Thai capital couldn’t tell its ambuse-bouches from its entrées. Setting our presumptions aside, there’s no arguing that this ultra-exclusive French food institution has been a pioneer in haute cuisine in Bangkok, serving delectable dishes alongside expertly paired fine wines in one of the most sophisticated settings in Bangkok, overlooking the gorgeous Chao Phraya River.
- Damnoen Saduak Floating Market Tour
- Banyan Tree's Apsara Dinner Cruise
- Vertigo & Moon Bar Rooftop Dining
- Ayutthaya Ancient Capital Tour with River Cruise
- Shangri-La Hotel's Buffet Dinner Cruise
- Bridge on the River Kwai & Historic Railway Tour
- Siam Niramit Dinner Show
- Calypso Bangkok Cabaret Show
- Chao Phraya River Dinner Cruise
- Grand Palace & Emerald Buddha Half-Day Tour
Walking into the dining room at La Normandie Bangkok, the mature ambiance impresses instantly with crystal chandeliers, plush carpets and the gentle tinkling of the ivories. Chef Arnaud Dunand Sauthier is in the kitchen, one which has welcomed countless Michelin-starred chefs over the years including the likes of Michel Roux and Christian Bau. He explains the restaurant’s meat ingredients are all exclusively sourced from France, telling us “if you don’t have French products, you can’t make French cuisine”.
On our latest visit, our five-course dinner with wine pairing left us completely in awe, not only through the intricate flavours delivered to our table each and every time, but also the incredible level of service; this meant Champagne reception on arrival, being personally addressed by our names, a comprehensive explanation of the ingredients in each and every course (which was partly served by a waiter who has worked in the restaurant for over 40 years) and wine pairing by a sommelier officially crowned as the best in Thailand.
The first starter of duck foie gras terrine was everything you’d expect it to be, with the rich meaty flavour of the foie gras toned downed perfectly by the sweetness of a plum sauce and port reduction. Probably the most impressive wine of the evening was paired with this dish too, the fragrant and sweet 2005 Muscat Goldert, which provided the right level of sweetness to complement that hearty terrine.
Next up was the lobster bisque, a dish which transports you all the way from the busy banks of Bangkok’s Chao Phraya River to a sleepy little seaside bistro in Normandie. The delicate flavours of the lobster are enhanced with a buttery black truffle sauce, served on a bed of buckwheat risotto done al dente with shucked lobster claw. You can almost hear the accordion player at this point...
The marinated beef cheek, which we’re told is going to be introduced onto Le Normandie’s full menu in 2015, first appears more like a pudding than a main course, with the potato espuma hiding the meat below. Again the sommelier’s pick of a Château de La Tour Pinot Noir delivered all the right notes, really enhancing the deep earthy flavour of the beef cheek. The final meat dish of the evening, the milk-fed French veal, draws similarities to a classic duck a l’orange (for us French-cuisine novices anyway), with the generous chunk of meat cooked rare and served with orange puree, orange-trumpet mushrooms and mustard grain seeds.
Rounding off a memorable meal at Le Normandie Bangkok was a Grand Marnier soufflé. After four courses we could barely finish it, providing testament to the fact that portions here are rather more generous in size compared to many of Bangkok’s other aspiring fine dining restaurants, which are often guilty of serving microscopic samples.
This grandfather of fine dining in Bangkok delivers a culinary experience that you won’t forget in a hurry. As for that all-elusive title of ‘the best restaurant in Bangkok’... it’s a definite contender, which considering this is the city’s longest running fine dining restaurant set in the city’s oldest luxury hotel, is quite an achievement in itself.
Whilst a dinner at Le Normandie might set you back the price of a night’s stay in the five-star hotel below (degustation menus are priced at 2,950-5,400 baht and wine pairings from 2,300 baht), their lunchtime menu starts from a comparatively measly 1,350 baht, meaning that dining at Bangkok’s most prestigious restaurant is no longer only reserved for the ultra-wealthy. Just don’t forget your shirt and jacket.
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Mandarin Oriental, Bangkok
The legendary service of The Mandarin Oriental Bangkok dates back 125 years when it was first opened as a seamans lodge along the Chao Phraya River.It typifies a golden age of travel and attends the needs of guests at the highest levels.The recently retired legendary General Manager of the hotel, Kurt Wachtveitl, has spent 41 years ensuring that the Oriental has no rival for excellence of comfort, dignity and style. Read More...
- Opening Hours: Lunch 12:00 - 14:00; Dinner 19:00 - 22:00 (Closed on Sunday)
- Address: Mandarin Oriental Bangkok, 48 Oriental Avenue, Bangkok 10500
- Tel: +66 (0)2 659 9000 ext 7390
- Cuisine: French Fine Dining