[Bangkok, Thailand] Gaggan is named THE BEST restaurant in Asia’s 50 Best Restaurants, 3 times in consecutive years, winning over highly-regarded restaurants such as Les Créations de Narisawa and Restaurant Andre.
“Really? It is good, but first?” was the type of response some of my friends gave.
To rationalise, it is not unexpected.
Gaggan is in the sweet spot of serving ‘exotic’ Indian food in the colourful and highly-accessible Bangkok, and has gone El Bulli-inspired molecular – which judges may be inclined to currently.
I have tried it twice. Once before all the limelight (but was already famous); the next more recently.
Here’s the difference: the theatrics have definitely increased.
Almost every dish required some form of syringing, hitting, opening up, with liquid nitrogen etc etc. They might have overdone it a few notches. The story from the start to the end of the menu wasn’t as strong. (Sorry Chef!)
Gaggan means “sky” in Hindi, and this 70-year old restored bungalow of sorts, with green gardens, comfortable rooms and cane furniture, made me feel that I was visiting a very wealthy friend.
Note: You MUST make a reservation at least a month or two in advance, and not expect to just walk-in and get a seat.
Do make a tour around. Finding a washroom is a good excuse. There were book shelves with legitimate food books, an outdoor area to have a drink and gaze at the sky, and no music.
Like a dining in a friend’s house, but also strangely very still and quiet.
The best way to experience Chef Gaggan Anand’s creativity is through the Tasting Menu (3,500++ Baht).
Having trained for two months in Ferran Adria’s el Bulli, Gaggan’s cuisine is influenced by its philosophy. There is no way you would find a typical curry dish, naan or masala chicken here.
Expect well, modern interpretation of Indian classics.
My advice: throw all expectations out and be thrilled. There were fun dishes, such as the Minced Lamb Patty which came in a tomato ‘false’ bun all airy and crumbly, and slightly sweet.
As well as something more serious and closer to authenticity – an aged basmati rice layer with chicken, herb and saffron served in a small pot.
The Carrot Cake, I assure you, would be like nothing you ever tried before. Coming in a green bottle cut into half, with saffron, it Is all whimsically imaginative yet appetizing.
There were some perhaps 3-4 constructions on the menu we did not quite understand and went “huh?”, like the Tiramisu flavoured cold cookie with choco chip, all made in front of very eyes, but with an un-arresting taste in contrast to the procedure it went to making.
The food has became more gimmicky, lacking of its original flow and focus. It became a meal where we remembered syringes and foams. Unfortunately, the Ala Carte menu has also been removed and price of the Tasting Menu went up to 3,500 from the previous 1,800, then 2,500 baht. (So effectively almost doubling in price over 2 years.)
There used to be more “When India met Italy” elements, such as the Seafood Risotto – slowed cooked with rice and saffron milk and impossibly delicious. Couldn’t find that on the menu anymore. It’s a pity.
This gastronomical meal at Gaggan, a progressive Indian restaurant in a colonial style wooden house set in the heart of downtown Bangkok, is still a memorable one.
Then you would have thought Elizabeth Gilbert could have just travelled to Bangkok to find her Eat Pray Love.