One of Bangkok’s French culinary kings makes his return.
The buzz: Back in the day when it felt like fine-dining restaurants were few and far between in Bangkok, French chef Arnaud Dunand helped make Le Normandie one of the preeminent fine-dining destinations in the city. During his reign, Dunand managed not only to earn two Michelin stars, but also a perfect five-star rating from BK’s own food reviewers. Though the chef left his post at the French powerhouse in 2021, he is making his much-awaited return with the eponymous restaurant Maison Dunand on Sathorn Soi 10. Despite only being open for a few months this year, it has already received a one-star rating in 2023’s Michelin Guide.
The vibe: Rather than a flashy showpiece venue, Dunand’s new post feels homey and rustic. You won’t find any elaborate chandeliers or gold-colored carpet to create an inflated sense of exuberance. The two-story house is modeled after the typical chalets found Dunand’s hometown in the French Alps. Here, oakwood beams and cave-like stone walls commingle with cabin-in-the wood feels from the lush green garden outside. The venue also sits right next to his more casual French bistro, Alpine, where Dunand forgoes haute cuisine in favor of more personal recipes from his hometown.
The food: Food-wise, Dunand showcases his French culinary prowess and soft personal touch in ways meant to remind you of his hometown. His eight-course experience (B6,900) begins with a smoked eel canape, alongside three amuse bouches: blood sausage with a tangy green apple gel, vol-au-vent (a small pastry filled with mushroom ragu and topped with truffle foam), and trout roe tartlet. The first course arrives with pieces of smoked sardine and beef neatly arranged into a rose shape with black radish. A tomato consomme and heap of herbs chaperon the dish and result in a refreshingly creamy but light mouth feel that prepares your palette for the next offering. Dunand’s old-time signature move, caviar with sea urchin and potato soup, will still woo guests as a rich and salty delicacy. Later, Dunand flexes his creativity with a lobster dish (we’re talking rare blue lobster from Brittany) seared with blueberry sauce and served with creamed celeriac and lobster bisque. Tantalizingly sweet and subtly acidic, you’ll make good use of the provided bread to wipe the plate clean. Equally satisfying is the wild pollack, which is slow-cooked in oil and wrapped with crunchy cabbage and pike roe. All of this is before getting to the main course. While there are two options, the fig-smoked Bresse pigeon we tried (with sprinklings of cacao nibs and served alongside eggplant millefleurs) was hearty and excellent. The course is buffered by a selection of Alpine cheese, which rolls out on a trolley boasting 10 varieties from Dunand’s hometown, before wrapping up the meal with a billowing chocolate sponge cake topped with chocolate mint ice cream. It might sound like a lot, but it’s extremely satisfying.
Why we’d come back: Dunand is nearly a living legend in Bangkok’s fine-dining scene, especially among the old guard. Considering that his new place offers a business lunch menu at B2,600—very reasonable considering the quality on offer here—we’d say Maison Dunand could easily slip into your regular rotation for years to come. Also thanks to the chef’s cafe-slash-bistro right next door, having a taste of legend’s work is easier than ever. By Porpor Leelasestaporn.