Chef and restauranteur Julien Imbert is no stranger to Bangkok’s food scene.
The French chef has had his skill sharpened with over 15 years of experience at London’s top restaurants – think Sketch, Jason Atherton’s City Social, and Dinner by Heston Blumenthal. Now, together with Bangkok’s budding chef-duo Pongcharn ‘Top’ Russell and Michelle Goh, Chef Julien brings a fresh London-European flair to Bangkok – evidenced in his restaurant Mia. Where fine dining is touched with a spirit of casual yet comfort European food in a playful environment, Mia is on our top-ten hits for upscale and succulent fare in Bangkok.
Yet although Julien spends most of his days dining and wining at his own establishment, there are a few other spots in town he opts to for his best bites besides Mia.
We recently asked the chef where he likes to go for guilty pleasure food in the city, on the days where calorie counting is completely ignored or forgotten (not that he cares much). Here, Chef Julien unveiled to us all his favourite off-the-beaten-track restaurants and the dishes he usually gets. Read on for his list of food he likes to devour on a cheat day in Bangkok.
Perched on the 19th floor of the Rosewood Bangkok, Chinese restaurant Nan Bei really takes Southern and Northern Chinese cuisines to modern new heights, offering everything from caramel-colour crust Peking duck, to dumplings and seafood dishes in a vintage-modern setting.
“It is a beautiful restaurant. I love the decoration, the view, and the service. The tables and seating are also very comfortable, which makes perfect sense as it is situated in a 5 star hotel. The dish we never ever miss out on whenever we’re there is the Peking duck, which the chef would prepare and carve by your table side. I also really like the duck broth. It’s delicious and serves a purpose as a perfect palate cleansing before moving on to dessert.”
Nan Bei, 19 Fl, 1041/38 Rosewood Bangkok, Ploenchit Road, Bangkok, +66 2080 0088; Open: Wed-Sun, 11:30 am- 2:30 pm for lunch and 5:30-9 pm for dinner.
Blue by Alain Ducasse
Boasting over 21 Michelin stars across his 31 restaurants in ten countries, Alain Ducasse is beyond a legend in the haute cuisine world. With his new flagship in Bangkok nestled within ICONLUXE, ICONSIAM, Blue by Alain Ducasse is shaking up the city’s culinary scene with his famed contemporary French fare. With an impeccable backdrop of the Chao Phraya River, the restaurant embellished with blue-gold elements exudes a romantically elegant charm, perfect for a date night.
“Not only does the restaurant have an amazing view, but the Executive Chef Wilfrid Hocquet also does a wonderful job in delivering fine haute cuisine, using high-quality, top-notch ingredients tended with precise cooking techniques. I am also a great admirer of Mr Ducasse, and to learn that he was going to open a restaurant here, I was so very happy! My favourite dish here would be the poached blue crab with tomato water gel and confit tomatoes topped with gold caviar from Kaviari.”
Blue by Alain Ducasse, Level One, ICONLUXE, ICONSIAM, Bangkok, +662 005 9412; Open: Thu-Mon, 12-9 pm.
Gigi – Dining Hall & Bar
Gigi – Dining Hall & Bar is the type of Italian restaurant that blooms with the fun-filled spirit of a bar – which is nothing but brilliant. For food fanatics who share a passion for pasta, pizza, salads, and dessert, the restaurant will satisfy your palate just right with their array of Italian breakfast, lunch, brunch, and dinner fare along with tasty, thirst-quenching cocktails.
“I go to Gigi quite often. It is my go-to spot for casual Italian food. The place has a good vibe with friendly hospitality. The menu is also very extensive and the price points are very reasonable. A must-try (which is my usual order) is the Calabrese Pizzette – like pizza, but smaller – topped with San Marzano tomato sauce, fior di latte mozzarella, nduja sausage, toasted peppers, red onion, basil, and oregano.”
Gigi – Dining Hall & Bar, 4 Soi Sukhumvit 45, Bangkok, +662 662 4478; Open: Mon-Thu, 6 pm-1 am; Fri-Sat, 6 pm-2 am; Sun, 11:30 am-11 pm.
For a gold standard of food and ambience, the two-Michelin-starred Le Normandie always tops our list. The riverfront restaurant within the Mandarin Oriental, Bangkok is a master when it comes to contemporary French fare, perfect for any occasion when elegant dining is needed.
“I am an absolute fan of Le Normandie. Here’s a place to dine and wine on sophisticated French cuisine. The new menu curated by Chef Arnaud Dunand Sauthier is just stunning, and my favourite course is the Caviar Kristal et Oursin D’Hokkaido, which is a dish of sea urchin, caviar, potato foam, and champagne sauce. And of course you can’t forget the cheese trolley…it’s divine”
Le Normandie, Mandarin Oriental, 48 Oriental Avenue, Bangkok, +662 659 9000; Open: Mon-Sat, 12-2 pm for lunch and 7-10 pm for dinner.
Nestled within The Sukhothai Hotel, La Scala is One of Bangkok’s mainstays for upscale Italian food. With a focus on Italian cuisine that truly speaks to the outlet’s attempt in driving it forward, the venue bridges together traditional, comfort Italian fare with fine-dining flair, evidenced in its menu that varies from the a la carte options of pizza, pasta, and salads, to a seasonal tasting menu.
“La Scala is my favourite Italian fine dining restaurant. The quality of the food and service has been very consistent with Chef Davide from before and until now with Chef Anthony. With the setting and spacious space, I always feel very comfortable when dining here. Pasta is my main food group; I could eat it everyday without getting tired or bored. The pasta dish I really like to get here is the Taglioni. It’s umami-packed and is laden with red prawns, clams, and mussel – all seasoned nicely with pungent garlic and chili. Delicious.”
La Scala, The Sukhothai Bangkok, 13/3 South Sathorn Road, Bangkok, +662 344 8888; Open: Mon-Sun, 12-3 pm and 6-11:30 pm.