Roasted French corn-fed chicken. Photo credit: Voyages by Alain Ducasse
Delectable sauces, freshly baked bread, and exquisite delicacies are some but not all the reasons why foodies around the globe love French cuisine. Luckily for Macau, there is an abundance of world-class French restaurants in town. One of them is Voyages by Alain Ducasse, a French bistro with a modern twist which is a Michelin guide recommendation too. To see what it has to offer, apart from the famous chef’s name, we came to taste their signature creations. Read on to learn why Voyages by Alain Ducasse has become one of our favorite gastronomic places in Macau.
About Alain Ducasse
Voyages by Allen Ducasse is one of the two restaurants by the world-acclaimed celebrity chef. French-born, Monegasque by citizenship, Ducasse has created an empire of 34 restaurants, schools, training centers, and even chocolate manufacturer. Moreover, he was the first chef to own three restaurants awarded with three Michelin stars, located in three cities. Today he is one of two chefs in the world to have acquired 21 Michelin stars in his professional career. And Macau is lucky enough to have two of his creations, Alain Ducasse at Morpheus and Voyages by Alain Ducasse.
While Alain Ducasse at Morpheus is a two-star Michelin fine-dining restaurant, Voyages offers a more casual approach. The concept behind it is bistro favorites cooked with top-quality ingredients using excellent chef techniques. The menu fits on one page and features familiar names for French cuisine aficionados. Portions are generous, thus suitable for sharing, with the presentation that is both casual yet stunning. The culinary team updates the a la carte menu according to what is in season in France every three months and set lunch fortnightly. So there is no way to get tired of Voyages!
As a proper French restaurant, Voyages offers a rather extensive wine list with bottles from old and new worlds. However, the majority of wine comes from French vineyards. If you consider yourself a gin fan, keep an eye open for the gin trolley with a selection of gin, garnishes, and spices.
After a ride in the futuristic elevator of Morpheus Hotel, we arrived at the third floor to the dark reception area that serves both the Alain Ducasse restaurants. Escorted by a friendly hostess through a curving corridor, we entered the restaurant. The first thing that caught our eye was the circular bar counter made of ash marble with contrasting emerald velvet chairs around it. This gorgeous bar deserves a separate visit as the cocktail list has plenty of tempting concoctions to savor.
The further we proceed, the more stunned we are by the chic interior and every little detail of the decor. The team behind Voyages’ design is Jouin Manku, a joint venture of two ambitious designers who often collaborate with Alain Ducasse. Vivid colors with dominating bright orange inspired by persimmons set up stylish space decorated with large rectangular ceiling lamps and vibrant contemporary art. One of them is Romain Bernini’s Octopus painting. The other piece of artwork is an installation of acrylic tiles by Léa Maupetit, a wall of 100 iconic ingredients of Alain Ducasse with the chef’s handwritten notes.
Among the most French of French ingredients, there are two that have become gastronomic symbols of France. We are talking about frog legs and foie gras, two star ingredients of the starters that we chose to inaugurate our meal with.
Some diners would find frog legs extravagant. However, the ingredient is not uncommon in China. Hence, it is only natural that this starter has become one of the restaurant’s bestsellers. The full name of this dish is “Fernande Allard” frog legs. It is an homage to a French chef of the legendary Parisian bistro, Allard, now owned by chef Ducasse. Throughout decades of its existence, it has grown to be a classic recipe and earned a special place in Ducasse’s heart. Thus, it remains on the menu, while many other courses come and go. Meaty frog legs from Vietnam are cooked in butter, garlic, and parsley sauce, attaining soft texture, without a chewy hint as it sometimes happens with this delicacy.
Confit duck foie gras was our second starter. Perfecting this course requires extraordinary skills and precision, as the product is exceptionally delicate. When done right, foie gras is an explosion of lavish flavors, strong and slightly sweet. To balance the bold flavors, foie gras is often served with toasted bread and some jam or compote. At Voyages, it comes with home-made brioche and sweet and a bit acidic quince on the side. Before cooking, the chef marinates the foie gras in cognac and port and soaks the brioche in milk before searing it.
Mains to share
Unless you are a vegan, French cuisine caters to various tastes as there are extraordinary dishes made with fish, seafood, poultry, or meat. When it comes to seafood, scallops, aka Coquilles Saint Jacques, are always a winning choice. Seared on one side, Voyages’ scallops come with beurre blanc sauce, asparagus puree, and French creamy green beans, radish cooked in sherry vinegar, sweet carrots, and bacon beans. From a gorgeous presentation to balanced flavors and textures, this course is a perfect one to showcase the carefully selected ingredients.
Another classic French ingredient is the duck. At Voyages, it is cooked medium-rare and served with dolce forte sauce, tender turnips, seared kumquat, and daikon, finely shaved and rolled in a pretty bud. The secret of this duck steak’s buttery softness is in the careful sourcing of meat. The duck is from Les Landes, a South-Western province of France where some of the best corn-fed poultry comes from, so did the roasted chicken that arrived at our table in a copper pot surrounded by fragrant rosemary. To achieve the exemplary tender texture for the roasted chicken, the chef debones it first and cooks it using the sous vide method and plenty of butter. This slow method ensures that the meat retains moisture and is evenly cooked.
To conclude the unforgettable culinary adventure, we ordered some of the Voyages’ signature desserts. The first one was chocolate fondant with golden flakes and ice cream with an impressive presentation that resembles an art object. When you dig in through the soft chocolate, lush and warm chocolate studded with gold flakes will pour out onto the plate. Made with the chocolate from Alain Ducasse’s Manufacture in Paris, this dessert is an ultimate pleasure for chocolate lovers.
For those who prefer fruity flavors, there is an exotic fruit eclair, a choux pastry with pineapple, mango, and passion fruit. However, our personal favorite was Grand Marnier souffle, served in a copper saucer with a citrusy sorbet on the side. Bravo to the pastry chef Nicolas Dolbeau for these delectable flavors and lightweight texture–genuine masterpieces!