Gaggan, Bangkok

Visit to Gaggan was the highlight of this Bangkok trip. Not only are they currently in Asia’s 50 Best Restaurant (#1, 2015), they are also in the World’s 50 Best Restaurant list (#10, 2015).

We gave them a miss during my previous visit in 2013 when we weren’t ready to try their progressive Indian cuisine. Although back then they were already in the Asia’s 50 Best list (#10, 2013). We don’t really eat Indian food in Singapore, partly because many a times its either vegetarian-centric or lamb-centric. However the word “progressive” used in describing Gaggan’s style of food was the key factor that convinced me to visit them.

The restaurant is housed in a quaint white colonial-style building and its dining hall was elegant, bright and comfortable. We started our late dinner by choosing from 2 fixed menu: Taste of Gaggan and Best of Gaggan, difference lies in the number of courses. The choice is clear, it has got to be Best of Gaggan which comprises of 11 courses, not including the 12 pre-meal snacks. Not that I have a huge appetite but I had to taste as much of the dishes where possible.

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Upon deciding on the menu, we were faced with the challenge of deciding on the drinks – because they all seemed so exotic and exquisite. The drinks menu looked liked an old literature book and the descriptions of the drinks made me felt like I’ll be served some magical potions~ Certainly wished we could taste every single one of the cocktail creations here!

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So for the first round, we had the Witches Potion Gin, Basil & ale and Drunk Samurai (Yossamurai) Sake, Yuzu, Umeshu, Fresh Wasabi, Salmon roes – Ikura. I am certainly attracted by the interesting port sipper glassware used for the drink, sipping through the curved glass tube. Doesn’t it resemble the Shisha? The Drunk Samurai is a marvellous combination of savoury and acrid flavours served in Japanese sake wooden box (masu).

First trio of snacks: Rose-Shikanji (Indian Lemonade), Yogurt Explosion and Edible Plastic Spiced Nuts. The first being aromatic and refreshing, second being rich and thick, third being crunchy and spicy (wasabi).

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Second trio of snacks: Chocolate Chilly Bomb, Bengali Mustard & Noori Pakoda and Birds Nest. Again a set of different textures and flavours took to the stage. First was sweet white chocolate topped with edible silver foil, followed by spicy mustard with what seemed to be paneer (cheese) and finally the crispy fried potatoes disguised as birds nest.

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Third trio of snacks: Papadam & Tomato Chutney, Keema (Lamb) Samosa and Dhokla. The wonderful play of textures and flavours continues as we enjoyed the crunchy papadam, crispy samosa and the soft & spongy Dhokla (which is supposed to be fermented batter derived from rice and split chickpeas according to wiki).

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Final trio of snacks: Brain damage, Fukuoka Surprise, Crab & Flowers. The staff did checked with us whether we eat Lamb Brain before we commence our meal. So this is it…the unorthodox dish. It was more pleasant than what I imagined it to be, as it is known that in some parts of the world people do eat Lamb’s head in its skull. Brain damage is in fact a cute looking macaron with the brain mousse sandwiched in the centre. For folks who don’t take lamb brain, they replaced it with a fried ball dish that came with a syringe~

Fukuoka Surprise comprised of melon white asparagus cloves green chilly ikura dried seaweed and sea grapes. My eye lit up at the sight of the delicious sea grapes (fell in love with them the first time I tried them – forgotten where I had it, must be some Jap dining place) which is paired with the juicy ikuras. I felt like I’m having a taste of the ocean essence in 1 mouthful of this enchanting dish~ This had to be my favourite snack for the night so, sad to say, Crab & Flowers that was the last snack paled slightly after I was blown away by the elegant Jap-inspired beautiful snack.

After finishing the 12 pre-meal snacks, we were already half-full even before commencing our meal proper. In my heart I was secretly hoping that the rest of the courses are also in such bite-size portion.

#1 Magic Mushroom Truffle, forest mushrooms in the shape of a log, edible soil and the garden. No offence to Chef Gaggan, frankly this dish very much reminded me of a dish we had in Narisawa called Essence of the Forest in terms of presentation.

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#2 Charcoal This dish is meant to be a surprise as the staff wouldn’t let us know what it is until we finished eating it. We came close to identifying the right ingredient as we guessed that the filling is salmon while the right answer is, also a type of fish meat – sea bass.

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#3 Chennai Kings Scallop in spicy roast pepper masala “Sukka Style”  had a lovely light curry espuma paired with the succulent fresh scallop.

#4 Pig & Pickle 72 hours prepared Iberian pork loin, in sweet and sour Punjabi pickled mix. The tartness of pickled gravy cleverly complement the richness of the tender lean pork.

#5 Daab Chingri A recipe that’s a result of #CNN Food# Culinary Journeys where ‘Daab’ meaning coconut ‘Chingri’ means prawns. Wonderfully fresh and juicy prawn encircled with a pool of airy espuma.

Noticed that the menu cleverly alternates between seafood and meat.

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#6 (For non-lamb eater) Chicken tikka masala which will make a re-appearance later, so I’ll touch on it later.

#6 (For lamb eater) Who Killed the Goat? Free-range lamb chops sou-vide, grilled and finished with almond saffron oil. I’m usually not a lamb eater but decided to give it a go at this dish as lambs are featured prominently in Indian cuisines. I’m glad I made the right choice. This was an outstanding dish! Playfully plated with a splash of red gravy, the tender and well-spiced lamb didn’t had any tinge of the intense gamey flavour that I was expecting. The aromatic, smoky and charred flavors from the grilled lamb definitely changed my perception of lamb dishes. I will probably take lamb again only if all the chefs can execute a lamb dish as well as Chef Gaggan does!

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2nd round of drinks from the mixology book – False Beer Recreating beer with blended Whisky, malt, apple juice and celery bitter served in a mug and Margari-Thai Homemade Tom-Yum spiced tequila served with Agave and fish sauce air served in martini glass. I was asking the staff jokingly “Is this mug a half-pint? It looked smaller than that…“. I’m sure the restaurant has a fairly extensive collection of glassware appropriate for each of their concoctions. I think Chef can start-off a bar perhaps named “Anand”? And I’m sure will be probably be as successful as the restaurant.

#7 I want my curry!!! Choice of – ‘British National Dish’ chicken tikka masala, Or Moms home style mutton bhunna Or our South Indian fish curry Accompanied with fresh breads of the day. Needless to say we opted for chicken tikka masala and fish curry. But the stand-out item was the Naan! Fresh from the kitchen (from a tandoor I suppose?), look at the beautifully charred and brown bits… Fluffy yet chewy…Its a pity that we could only have a portion of it as we were quite full by then, I did wished that I could continue to have this for Breakfast!!! I think it would still taste good even if it was leftover. =) I also enjoyed the South Indian style curry which is less thick and slightly tangy compared to the sweet chicken tikka masala.

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We finally reached the desserts after close to 2.5 hours of meal time. Which meant it was already closed to mid-night…Thankfully we weren’t the last guests who were denying the staff from ending their work day…

#8 Gajar Halwa Black carrot ice cream, crispy carrot flower, cardamon oil was a charming and interesting. The ice cream were wrapped in the crisp carrot cone and presented as if we had freshly pulled the “carrots” out from the dreamy green field~

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#9 In Season Mahachanok mangoes, coconut LN semi-sphere is a fun dessert whereby we had to break the hard sphere to see the bright yellow mango filling.  The artsy plate made the sphere looked like a droplet that fell into a milk puddle, creating a nice splash.

#10 Magnum Inspired from the famous ice cream we create our playful fantasy. A lollipop chocolate coated with nuts.

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#11 Candies Pan chocolate candy, Rose jelly, Mouth freshner, Yuzu, Tamarind is the final item that marked the end of a wonderful meal.

It was a remarkable experience to dine at Gaggan and worthy of the raving accolades that I’ve read about. I can confidently say that they are one of the most memorable restaurants I’ve ever visited.

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