Like many foodies, we’re fans of the Netflix Chef’s Table series and after seeing the Gaggan episode we knew we had to add this Indian restaurant to our Thailand itinerary. Bangkok has so much amazing Thai street food that it seems almost sacrilege to be eating Indian food. But Gaggan is far from a typical Indian restaurant; it reinterprets Indian flavours and ingredients using modern techniques and serves it up in an 18 course tasting menu. Being located outside of India means Gaggan is free to push the boundaries of what Indian food is, as well as incorporate influences from other cuisines around the world. The approach seems to be working - Gaggan was named Asia’s Best Restaurant in 2015, 2016 and 2017.
The meal started with a refreshing palette cleanser - pickled cherries and soda made with Japanese honey and cherry pickling liquid.
An homage to elBulli where Chef Gaggan Anand trained, these liquid spheres are filled with yoghurt rather than the original olives. The spheres burst in your mouth and you get creamy yoghurt and bright cumin flavours. We also got some wasabi, nuts and dried fruit inside edible plastic packets.
Next is a trio of bites with more traditional Indian flavours. The yellow sponge is in fact very light and fluffy idli (savoury cakes) with lentil foam and curry leaf on top. Inside each silver ball is a cocoa butter shell filled with liquid mango - a take off of the Indian mango drink, aam ka panna.
The round disks are called uncooked curry cookies on the menu - they’re actually more savoury than sweet and lightly dusted with garam masala and sunflower seed powder. It’s already clear that Gaggan is not afraid to mix sweet, salty and spicy flavours all in the same course.
Crispy potato cakes topped with pork vindaloo is probably the most straightforward course of the “bites” section - it tastes exactly as you would expect, a seriously delicious vindaloo.
We just had a savoury course so that must mean it’s time for a sweet one next. “Black Forest gateau” topped with chicken liver cream, cherry and edible flowers.
We were told that Gaggan has been inspired by Japanese cuisine and is incorporating more Japanese flavours in the food, like crackers with topped with spinach and smokey Japanese eel.
Mango and uni - a combination that shouldn’t work but strangely does here. In fact, this mango cone with mango cream inside and Japanese uni on top may have been my favourite dish.
Now for a bit of theatre, the glass dome filled with smoke reveals a lump of charcoal underneath. The charcoal is actually potato with fish inside and very tasty.
Delicate mushroom “log” filled with a creamy truffle and mushroom mousse and an “edible soil” made with green curry powder.
The next course, a Japanese tea ceremony made with tomatoes instead of matcha, is served at the table. We started with a salad of tomatoes from Chiang Mai and Japan. As we’re eating a chef makes the tea by pouring hot water over freeze dried tomato powder. The tea is then poured into your salad bowl and mixes with the leftover juices and olive oil to make a flavourful broth.
Tandoori lamb chops from New Zealand served with beetroot/cumin and sweet potato/cardamom paste in a beautiful pattern on the plate.
The last savoury course is called “I want my Curry!!!” because, well, who doesn’t want curry in an Indian meal? Chicken kofta curry, minced lamb masala and cumin rice are served in a tiffin (3-tier lunchbox) with naan and chapati on the side. Everything is very well made and tasty, but I was expecting a twist and this course was almost too conventional compared to the rest of the meal.
Dessert is a Japanese summer peach flavoured shell with ginger “snow” sprinkled on top. Crack open the shell to get to the peach ice cream and hidden goodies like mint cake and peach jelly.
Intensely flavoured mango ice cream on a stick. Simple, delicious, and lots of fun.
We ended the meal with sandalwood infused tea and a few final sweets.
There were definitely some highlights (yoghurt sphere, mango and uni, tomato tea) and a couple of “just good” courses. Overall I felt like I was taken on a journey with a chef willing to take risks - and got delicious food along the way. Gaggan recently announced that he will be closing the Bangkok restaurant and opening a new restaurant in Japan in 2020. I can’t wait to see what he’ll do.
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