Kuala Lumpur – A long-time favourite steakhouse in Singapore has found a home in the heart of Malaysia’s capital. Les Bouchons brings a touch of classic French flair with a roll call of classic bistro dishes done right. With meticulous attention to detail, the culinary team is led locally by Chef Rao, with Executive chef Mickaël Cornac overseeing the group’s operations and steering the five outlets across Singapore, Johor and Kuala Lumpur to greater heights. Les Bouchons is more than just a pleasing novelty in a town filled with over-the-top steakhouses.
Launched on the month of…August, 2023
Seating capacity is at…82 pax
Area size is at…3,430 square feet
Number of FOH staff is at 5, and BOH is at 8
Table of Contents
- Fast Facts
- The Concept
- The Menu
- Table Talk with Executive Chef Mickaël Cornac
- For those that haven’t visited, tell us a bit more about Les Bouchons in your own words.
- Tell us a little bit about the history of Les Bouchons
- The opening phase: What was unexpectedly difficult and what came easily?
- Coming back to your statement, “Finding skilled kitchen & service staff and sommeliers can be difficult”. Can you tell us more?
- Why Kuala Lumpur and why now?
- To run a restaurant business for twenty years and counting is incredible! What are the key principles that drive the sustainability of the business?
- Can you tell us more about what Les Bouchons put in place to create a memorable experience for diners?
- How do you keep your team inspired and motivated to love what they do?
- Last but not least, what do you want customers to take away from their dining experience with your menu?
There’s a sense of theatre from the get-go. Step inside into the dining room, reminiscing of old Parisian bistro charms with pieces of vintage art decor shipped from France, and there’s a honeyed amber glow from the Parisian hanging chandelier ceiling lights.
The menu at ‘King of Steak and Fries’ Les Bouchons is a nod to classic French bistro fare: escargot, French onion soup, confit duck leg, duck-liver parfait. Here, the star of the menu is still a hunk of meat. Steaks are prepared in the French style, “setting towering standards for marbling and tenderness”; a touch rarer to highlight the beef flavour. They’re served with bottomless French fries and fresh green salad, a trademark of Les Bouchons.
The wine list tours across regions of France, an extensive selection of around 3000 bottles of predominantly French wines – a combination of old and new world wines selections handpicked to enhance the overall dining experience. “The wine list is constantly changing as the team is always on the lookout for better wines. Our owners have assiduously built up a relationship with wine growers directly over the years and also sell wines on B2B and B2C basis. This also guarantees provenance,” says Cornac.
View this post on Instagram
Les Bouchons’s iconic dish is the french Onion Soup. This soup is cooked it the traditional way to make sure customers are transported to France when they have their first spoon.
The secret behind that it the process to cook our french onion soup in two days, one day for our homemade chicken and beef stock, second day to caramelised our onions for at least 1 hour and 45 minutes to 2 hours to make sure the onions are well cooked and caramel brown and colour to reach their natural sweetness. Served with our emmental cheese croutons on top of the soup.
The second iconic dish will be the black angus ribeye with vigneron butter and homemade french fries.
The secret to make this dish always successful is to source out the right product to ensure the quality will always be consistent and to cook to perfection. “And we make sure it’s nicely paired with our homemade french fries that some of our customers will call “addictive“ and our shallots butter. The marbling and fat of our ribeye is well balanced and offers a tenderness in the beef.” says Chef Mickaël Cornac.
Table Talk with Executive Chef Mickaël Cornac
For those that haven’t visited, tell us a bit more about Les Bouchons in your own words.
Established in 2002, Les Bouchons, is amongst one of the first restaurants in Singapore to serve French Steak Frites “Steak and Fries”. Sophisticated and effortlessly cool, Les Bouchons Restaurants take guests on a gastronomic journey through the by lanes of Paris paying homage to the grand tradition of French Bistros.
Showcasing a renewed but familiar look at French Cuisine, Les Bouchons is known for serving the best quality steaks, setting towering standards for marbling and tenderness, making every meal an experience full of robust flavours and textures.
The menu also has a varied, delectable selection of other meat and seafood dishes to choose from. The dining experience is further enhanced with a variety of special homemade condiments which pair well with other dishes on the menu.
Wine and steak for centuries have complimented each other and without one the meal is always incomplete. Our team ensures that this experience comes through for our guests, as different wines suit different cuts of meat and different degrees of doneness or what the French more elegantly call Cuisson. Our diners are predominantly loyal customers who need to come again and again to get their steak fix.
Tell us a little bit about the history of Les Bouchons
There are five branches of Les Bouchons. Ann Siang in Singapore (opened in 2002) brings together everything French to the cultured and eclectic cluster of bars and restaurants in the neighbourhood. Located in a traditional shophouse the ambiance lends a charming, vintage feel. Les Bouchons Rive Gauche (opened in 2006), located at Robertson Quay, Singapore offers a beautiful outdoor terrace overlooking the serene Singapore river that creates a romantic and indulgent atmosphere. Les Bouchons Rochester Commons (opened in 2022) is situated in a black-and-white colonial house with an attractive alfresco, cosy indoor dining area, Pétanque court and delicately done up with French artefacts. Les Bouchons Johor Bahru (opened in 2020) is located in the nerve centre of Puteri Harbour and has the typical Parisian bistro décor overlooking the marina. Les Bouchons Kuala Lumpur is our fifth branch.
The opening phase: What was unexpectedly difficult and what came easily?
Opening a restaurant in Kuala Lumpur, like any other major city, can be a rewarding venture, but it also comes with its fair share of challenges.
- High Operating costs: With a lower purchasing power compared with Singapore, it gets difficult to reduce costs when input costs are high, such as ingredient costs, sourcing of meats and wines.
- Regulations and Permits: Navigating the legal requirements and obtaining the necessary permits can be a complex and time-consuming process. This includes health and safety regulations, liquor licences and business permits.
- Staffing: Finding skilled kitchen & service staff and sommeliers can be difficult
- The F & B industry has had a hard time especially during the pandemic. There is a trust deficit in the supply chain – which makes more demands on cash flow than normally required.
“Kuala Lumpur is amazingly diverse with a mix of cultures, race, religions and tastes. Understanding and catering to the preferences of different ethnic and cultural groups can be challenging as one size doesn’t fit all. It is also not possible to please all. One has to take some hard decisions to segment the market.”
Coming back to your statement, “Finding skilled kitchen & service staff and sommeliers can be difficult”. Can you tell us more?
Hiring will always be a challenge wherever we are in the world, but in Kuala Lumpur we had a challenging time finding our right staff for kitchen and service as the industry has plenty of other offers. However, our french restaurant can offer our staff a very good experience and learn a lot from us as we not only serve french food but we also want our staff to learn what a french service is like too.
Why Kuala Lumpur and why now?
It has been our group’s stated vision to be amongst the top steakhouse chains in Singapore and Malaysia. The consumer behaviour of both these countries are similar and it is easier to manage them being adjacent countries.
We tested out a branch in Johor Bahru which is neighbouring Singapore in 2020. The learnings from JB helped us to have confidence to open a branch in Kuala Lumpur. In fact, we are sanguine that Kuala Lumpur, like Singapore has space for multiple branches of Les Bouchons. And we like to build Les Bouchons brick by brick, steak by steak.
Kuala Lumpur is fast becoming a world city thanks to its cultural diversity, iconic landmarks, culinary culture, vibrant and world class business district, efficient transportation and infrastructure, a melting pot and economic hub in Asia, getting traction amongst the digital nomads and a safe city. All these are tailwinds which we hope to benefit from.
To run a restaurant business for twenty years and counting is incredible! What are the key principles that drive the sustainability of the business?
As a group, we are actually 25 years old!
Our first restaurant called L’Angélus, located in Singapore’s CBD, has been drawing in diners since 1998. As they say, the devil lies in the details. We are fastidious about our operations, profitability, cash flow and financial management renewed focus on a better dining experience, rebalancing when required, building and rebuilding a good team, creating an incentive and ESOP structure for key employees, creating a meritocratic and diverse organisation are some key values. The management’s role is that of a facilitator and support the team without getting involved in micromanagement. Floor and kitchen staff are the face of the restaurant and the departmental heads are fully empowered.
There are ample opportunities to grow within the group as we are expanding and prefer to promote staff from within the pipeline. Working environment and mental well-being of staff is respected as well as a proper work-life balance. Guess we have let out a lot of our secrets.
Can you tell us more about what Les Bouchons put in place to create a memorable experience for diners?
Regardless of how many years experience you have in F&B, Les Bouchons offer to learn the french way to how to cook traditional recipes like mother sauce, desserts, dishes like french onions soup, beef burgundy, creme brulee, crepes suzette and how to serve customer the french way and gain knowledge of multiple wines as well.
If our team puts passion and love in what they are doing, our customers will feel it and will always feel very happy too.
How do you keep your team inspired and motivated to love what they do?
Working in a restaurant will never be easy as we work long hours, so to work in a french restaurant like ours, our team need to understand that we want to offers our customers a travelling experience to France when they come to Les Bouchons. For our team, it will also be a travelling experience too! As they will learn a lot in terms of recipes, wines, culture about food and service.
I always tell my team, work with a smile and passion on what you do, and you will work happily.
Our menu offers multiple french traditional recipes that our staff can learn from and we offer them to work in a very newly equipped kitchen as well to make sure they can work comfortably.
Last but not least, what do you want customers to take away from their dining experience with your menu?
Our customers will have in our restaurant a French whole experience not only with the food but with the restaurant itself as we put in a lot of effort in the design and arts sources from Paris directly. Our french bistro will definitely leave a great gastronomy experience to our customer with our classic french steak frites menu and also for wine lovers they will be happy to find a large range of wines selections.
Our menu will satisfy their craving for French food with a beautiful range of steaks and also because we want our customers to enjoy a unique gastronomy experience at a reasonable price for a french bistro in the city centre of Kuala Lumpur.
Location: Lot 183, 1st Floor Jalan Mayang, Off, Jalan Yap Kwan Seng, Kampung Baru, 50450 Kuala Lumpur
Operating Hours: Monday to Sunday from 12 to 2:30pm, and from 6 to 10 pm
Reservations: +60 10 217 2828
Image credit: Les Bouchons