After the pummeling I took at Ducasse in June 2019, and the subsequent updating of my Michelin Guide, I noticed a pattern that I hadn’t caught on to before. In no way was it intentional or something I was consciously aware of before visiting, but every one of the 6 restaurants that I deem worthy of Michelin distinction has a Head Chef who is actually in the restaurant everyday.
You could have gone to the Tasting Room and met Fabrice Vulin, for example. I’ve talked to Justin Paul over at Golden Peacock quite a few times through the years. Chef Joseph Tse is a mainstay at the 8 as is Liu Guo Zhu at Golden Flower etc etc.
On the flip side, Joel Robuchon’s face is on a milk carton at Robuchon Au Dome. Umberto Bombana is not in the Galaxy shopping quarter slaving away in his satellite shoebox venue. And most importantly in terms of this review, Alain Ducasse did not come out and shake my hand after I dropped 3000 Mops on his Signature Menu in the restaurant that bears his name.
Call it a coincidence if you like but I think I’m onto something here, at least in terms of fine dining in Macau. Either it’s ‘when the cat’s away the mice will play’ type of situation, or what I tend to believe more, the cat’s the only one who knows how to cook!
The Signature Menu runs $1888 at Ducasse, which I paired with an $888 Wine flight, specially tailored for the food. It was composed of four courses along with four desserts and three amuse bouche, a staggering quantity of food that I would ordinarily applaud, save for the fact that most of it was terrible.
The Delicate Crab Broth with Hibiscus Infusion Soup was loaded with a ton of ginger that obscured the crab and obliterated the dish. If it were a wine I’d say it would have to open up and breathe awhile, as it was, it was just smoky and unpleasant.
The Red Mullet on Scales was even worse; the scales were crunchy and tasted like scales mixed with salt, and after combining it with the braised fennel juice and kumquat, I could only taste the sauce. There was no indication that I was eating fish of any kind; it was a dish that lacked both foundation and structure.
It was a similar story with the Farm Veal Chop, White Asparagus and Citron, which was supposed to be the climax of the meal. Give me a break, farm veal chop, a meat where every inch of flavour needs to be coaxed out of it and even then you hardly ever get that far… is the highlight of a $3000 Mop Signature Menu?
Now, this one was work, and I had to mix everything together with the citron, sabayon, and asparagus to get it any where approaching respectability, which perhaps I just managed to do in the end.
The four desserts were all duds too, just some typical strawberry, souffle, chocolate and apple numbers that were oh so ordinary, having nothing on the best desserts at Cafe Bon Bon, for example.
Maybe Betty Fong should moonlight at Ducasse and restore some order there, at least as far as the sweets go.
Two amuse bouche amused nothing, but I do have to give a shout out to the third, the Cold Green Pea and Spring Onion Soup, which was phenomenal.
You know something went horribly wrong when an amuse bouche stands out, but that was about as good as it got at Ducasse.
Out of the 8 servings, there was only one truly worth sitting down for: the Steamed Duck Foie Gras, Rhubarb and Turnip. I’m not going to lie to you, I was seeing stars with that one, doing somersaults around Saturn in front of the light.
For ten minutes I was legitimately gone, taken away from this vile meal and existence, elevated into another stratosphere of being, the wine greasing the wheels and powering me on. I was hoping to re-live that sensation a couple of more times through the dinner, like how it was at Tasting Room before it closed, but Ducasse was a mugging of meal, reminiscent of the beatdowns I took years ago at Yamazato and Robuchon Au Dome.
Ducasse isn’t worth your time or money, and it’s the absolute truth that I had a far better lunch at small little Niu Ji hours before, when I spent all of $100 on two noodle dishes that were both superb. By all means, go there instead!