I was not surprised to read that one of my favorite restaurants in Bangkok, Gaggan whose cuisine is described as “progressive Indian” has been awarded the “Top Spot” coming first place in “Asia’s Top 50 Restaurants” list and was even voted 10th best restaurant in the whole world at the San Pellegrino World’s Best Restaurant Awards held in London in June 2015.
The 37 year old owner and head chef Gaggan Anand, who trained at the famous Ferran Adria’s Michelin star restaurant El Bulli in Spain has created a workspace what can only be described as more of a science lab than a kitchen, as molecule cooking is the name of the game in this restaurant.
With 22chefs and 18 front of househosting a maximum of 60 covers per night, creating what I like to describe as “Showtimetheatre” as there are so many twists & surprises, you cannot just describe the evening as purely going for dinner.
Definitely not the norm, this restaurant should be enjoyed with friends “who love food” or “foodies” as we like to be called and certainly reserved for special occasions.
Living in Bangkok or Pattaya, How lucky are we to have the best restaurant in Asia or 10th in the entire world, right here on our door step. And you don’t have to be a fan of Indian food to eat here. This is not your chicken madras and five pints of lager joint, plus the menus are constantly changing, to ensure you are always surprised by their newest creations.
The restaurant itself is very cozy in what I would describe as a “quaint wooden Thai house” with a colonial feel to it, with the option of dining upstairs and downstairs. The bright and cheery atmosphereis important, as you really eat with your eyes first in this establishment.
Ok now to the food, we all opted for the 17 course tasting menu, don’t worry the portions are small, crazy to think some dishes take 24 hours to prepare, and they are gone in 60 seconds.
We started with a trio of taste ticklers (amuse bouche), which consisted of white chocolate balls filled with cilantro and other herbs and spices, then covered with silver leaf, then a scientifically recreated egg using yoghurt and ingredients that do not usually taste like an egg, but together its magic, here you have an egg on a spoon. Maybe this was a childhood memory for Gaggan from his school sports day?
Followed by a real show stopper, an edible “plastic bag” of nuts made with translucent rice paper.Trying to convince your Thai partner that it’s safe to eat a plastic bag can be a little difficult, but once they try it, they are game for the other oddities that follow. Such as the deconstructed Bhajis that resemble a bird nest or the Foie Gras hot dogs, where the bread it made entirely from onion powder, which just melts in your mouth in seconds, leaving you with a mouth full of smooth and silky pâté.
The cocktails should also be mentioned at this stage, The Mango cocktail is to simply die for, which contains large chunks of mango served from a tall smoking glass, which looks like it has come straight from a mad scientist’s laboratory as does the coconut concoction they serve. Sorry I forget the exact names of the cocktails, but I did have a few, anyhow the service staff are very attentive and helpful, and if you are lucky enough to be served by the hilarious Khun Ae, ask for him by name, and you are certainly in for a night to remember.
Last but not least my favorite cocktail “The Drunk Samurai” a potent blend of Japanese liqueurs and sake -but be warned, it comes in sorbet form with ikura (salmon roe) and Japanese pepper.
Back to the food, next we enjoyed a simple dish of extremely fresh oysters and wasabi that certainly woke up the taste buds.
No doubt, to prepare us for what followed, the best soup I have ever tasted, consisting of a 62c cooked egg yolk, asparagus, morels and artichoke, finished with a slice of truffle and chili air. And if that wasn’t enough it was served in a real stone rock, in fact all seventeen courses were presented on an array of different plates varying from little baskets, rocks, spoons and what only can be described as a miniature version of the kind of scales street vendors use to carry their wares around Bangkok. Attention to detail in this restaurant is a feast for the eyes and makes the whole dining experience, simply memorable.
Another favorite of mine was the lamb sliders, OMG I never knew burgers could be so delicious, if they opened a fast food chain serving these sliders all the major fast food chains would go out of business in no time. These are presently on the street vendors scales as previously mentioned.
Obviously with seventeen courses and nearly as many cocktails, I simply cannot recall all the dishes, flavors and ingredients, but there was a lovely fish dish with Indian mustard powder which I was very impressed with.
There was also a dish of “Iberian pork belly” which is unusual for an Indian restaurant, this was more of an Indian themed dish highly spiced in Vindaloo curry, but once again one of my favorites, as was the lamb chop which comes to the tableunder a glass pleasure dome, once removed realizes a delightful aroma. ‘Her indoors’ – The wife, cannot and will not eat anything lamb, so the kitchen prepared for her a Tandoori king prawn which was also very good, I know as I stole a little taster.
Now it was time for desert “yes” you guessed it, no simple affair, as there was three deserts courses. Once again do not be worried they are not big portions, more like little tasters of what’s on offer.
We started with the delightfully named “Poor Man’s Porridge” which was a concoction of Jasmine rice ice cream, pistachio crisps, finished off with a dose of rose room freshener. Sounds strange, I suppose it was a bit. But it reminded me of my dear ole mothers rice pudding back in the UK when I was a youngster, so a very pleasant journey back in time , simple but delicious.
Secondly, a desert with a dash of Indian flare, “Masala Chai” an ice sorbet of saffron and cardamom, a great combination of flavors that also cleansed the palate for the finale.
Simply named “The Magnum” and served by a chef at the table on a chopping board, this is just an explosion of different kinds of chocolate flavors, temperatures and textures, which no doubt was inspired by the famous ice cream of the same name.Undoubtedly, more than enough chocolate to keep any of you “Chocoholics” happy for a good few days until your next fix.
All in all, I can honestly say this was one of my most memorable dining experiences ever and I really cannot recommend visiting this restaurant highly enough, so much so that when people ask me what would be on my bucket list of things to do. I always say go on holiday to the Maldives and have dinner at Gaggan. These two things, in my opinion should be done at least once in one’s lifetime.
Once you have been to Gaggan, it will leave you gagging for more.
The restaurant is hidden down a little side street on Soi Langsuan, Ploenchit Road but has a large sign post on the main road, so easy enough to find.
Opening hours are from 6.00 -11.00 pm
Phone well in advance for reservations 02-652-1700
Prices vary from 1,800 THB (10 course) – 4,000 THB (17 course) for the tasting menus, but a full A la carte menu is available.
I should also state for the record, I am a food lover and not journalist, and I hope you enjoyed my restaurant review.