Just like the Zaha Hadid-designed Morpheus hotel has transformed the landscape of Macau’s Cotai Strip, its casual dining restaurant Voyages by Alain Ducasse is likely to elevate the hotel cafe experience for Macau’s tourists.
Walking into Voyages by Alain Ducasse, on the 3rd floor of the avant-garde hotel, is almost like meeting both day and night at the same time. The space is divided into two sections, with the warmly-lit Voyages Bar on the left, and the sunshine-filled restaurant proper on the right.
The bar area is a great place to knock back some special cocktails from the cocktail cart or any of the special champagne ‘Selection Alain Ducasse’, Japanese sake ‘Nichiei Alain Ducasse’, a limited-edition Grey Goose Vodka Alain Ducasse, or a sip of white tea from Parisian brand Kusmi tea, which have all exclusively been produced for Ducasse’s restaurants.
Having guzzled our way through happy hour the evening before, we were now at Voyages for a Sunday lunch and it was obvious that not all the hotel guests had discovered this gem – only a few other tables were filled, making us the noisiest table in the restaurant.
A blend of Asian influences, the tables and seats of main dining room were functional but the devil is in the details. The art deco-style overhead lights, inspired by Thai paper lanterns, cast a subtle warm glow on the room. On the tables: cutlery from Alessi, water glass from Italy, plates from Dutch brand Serax; and chopsticks and table lamps from Japan.
As with the rest of the hotel, art features strongly here, with an installation by French artist Léa Maupetit showcasing 100 iconic ingredients from Asia and beyond, at the end of the restaurant. French artist Romain Bernini’s vibrant painting of an octopus with its eight tentacles outstretched adorns the wall at the other end of the restaurant.
Past the main dining area is a glass encased room with leafy green plants and plush sofas – a lightly-disguised smokers’ room, and smaller private area beyond it. The whole area seats about 110, although it doesn’t seem that large.
Having been disappointed by some of Ducasse’s other restaurants, including the 3-star Michelin Alain Ducasse au Plaza Athenee, I had lowered my expectations: after all, this was only “casual dining” offering “international cuisine” – which were key descriptions of normal “hotel cafe food”.
The chilli eggplant “rou jia mou” amuse bouche, a “burger” of flatbread stuffed with aubergine wedges, did not assuage my fears, but from the time the first marinated sea bream with citrus condiment arrived, we were in for endless surprises. The slight tang of citrus brought out the freshness and sweetness of the sea bream and it was a refreshing start to the meal.
The beef tartare and duck foie gras were excellent. The lightly fried crab cake balls, served with a sweetcorn veloute on the side, was a pleasant surprise. The crabmeat was sweet and succulent, and the dense meat was offset by the foamy veloute.
As far as the starters went, the shrimp toast with katsuobushi flakes was crowned champion by everyone at the table. From the presentation to the texture of the crunchy toast and soft shrimp meat – well-seasoned with sesame oil and chilli (with a generous topping of Chinese cabbage, katsuobushi flakes, nori seaweed and gently covered with mayonnaise and bulldog sauce) – it was perfection.
We went through most of the mains, starting with the Iberico pork cheek Danube and Rossine-style fillet of beef. But it was the cod, mango and celery, and the shrimps red curry that provided the big exclamations. The cod skin was ever so lightly seared to crispiness while the meat was just cooked, retaining its moistness.
The Thai-inspired red curry was divine, its sauce of fresh coconut milk alongside pineapples, red chillies, coriander, galangal and a generous helping of ginger and lime provided an explosion of flavours in the mouth. Hints of curry were soft but enough to give it a kick.
We ended the meal with the excellent Paris-Macau, a twist on the Paris Brest with a peanut cream instead of almond cream and served with a side of kumquat jam, and a light key lime pie. With starters priced between $98 and $128 patacas, and mains from $128 to $288 patacas, Voyages by Alain Ducasse will be a worthwhile journey of culinary discovery.
Voyages by Alain Ducasse, Level 03 Morpheus, City of Dreams, Macau; tel +853 88683432