Bangkok Restaurant Review – Gaggan

Seriously?

One of the best Indian restaurants on the globe is in Bangkok? Surely the World’s 50 Best Restaurants got it wrong. It’s not just the location which seems odd, but the fact that it’s ranked no. 17 amongst a very august list of restaurants such as Noma and Eleven Madison Park seems rather bizarre. That being said, it definitely piqued my interest. So off I went to Bangkok once again.

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Located not far from Lumpini Park lies a Colonial styled house, which is home to Gaggan. We were shown upstairs to one of the many dining rooms, and awaited eagerly in anticipation. My only encounter with Modern Indian cuisine was at the much acclaimed Vij’s restaraunt in Vancouver, which served classic Indian cuisine using French techniques. Although skeptical, the food there was excellent and definitely left me a lasting impression. I still have sweet dreams of the amazing lamb lollipops!

The chef Gaggan Anand, whom is a Kolkata native, had quite an illustrious cooking career as well as a stage with Ferran Adria at the El Bulli laboratory. Molecular gastronomy mixed with Indian cuisine, well that’s probably a first.

We opted for the Taste of Gaggan tasting menu, which is a showcase of his culinary talents. Thus we began this peculiar, and rather whimsical adventure.

First, we started off with the Street eats from India, which consisted of yogurt chaat, white chocolate pani puri, potato duo and spiced nuts in an edible plastic bag (apparently made from rice flour). The yogurt chaat literally burst in my mouth, giving forth a torrent of intense yogurt flavor. What a way to start the meal! The other components were also quite decent, and I definitely enjoyed the white chocolate pani puri, which contained a liquid of tamarind and an edible piece of  silver.

Yogurt Chaat, Spiced Nuts in an edible plastic bag, chocolate pani puri, potato duo - crispy and liquid
Yogurt Chaat, Spiced Nuts in an edible plastic bag, chocolate pani puri, potato duo – crispy and liquid

The next course was the aptly named Viagra(R), which is a freshly shucked oyster with Yuzu spiced marinated apples, horseradish ice cream and lemon air. It was amazingly refreshing, and even impressed my friend who’s not typically a fan of oysters.

Freshly shucked oyster, yuzu spiced marinated apples, horseradish ice cream and lemon air
Freshly shucked oyster, yuzu spiced marinated apples, horseradish ice cream and lemon air

Next course was a “Foie gras sandwich” with a baguette made from onion water, foie gas, onion chutney and hazelnut candy. The onion water baguette was very delicate, but the foie gras and onion chutney combo was quite a kicker.

Foie Gras in Onion Water Baguette, onion chutney and hazelnut candy
Foie Gras in Onion Water Baguette, onion chutney and hazelnut candy

The dishes thus far had been quite restrained with the flavours, which was not what one might typically expect with Indian cuisine. But the next one was an absolute flavour bomb, and set the tone for the coming dishes.

The next course was dubbed the “Down to Earth”, which is an intense mushroom soup with asparagus, morels, mushrooms, artichokes, a 62 degree Celsius cooked egg yolk and truffle chilli air. The flavours were definitely quite earthy with an intense mushroom flavour, plus the chilli giving a nice fiery kick to the dish. Absolutely delicious.

Summer vegetables - Asparagus, morels, mushrooms, artichokes with 62C egg yolk and truffle chilli air
Summer vegetables – Asparagus, morels, mushrooms, artichokes with 62C egg yolk and truffle chilli air

Next, was a grilled fresh water prawn with Tandoori, curry leaf infusion and mango chutney. Another explosion of flavour, with the grilled prawn giving off a very nice smokiness, enveloped in an intense Tandoori flavour. Didn’t quite taste the mango chutney, which didn’t matter as the other components shined brilliantly. The Indian flavours are definitely picking up in intensity as the dinner progresses, and in a very pleasant way.

Fresh water prawns grilled in tandoor with a curry leaf infusion and mango chutney
Fresh water prawns grilled in tandoor with a curry leaf infusion and mango chutney

The subsequent dish was a “Keema Pav”, which is a sort of mini burger with spiced lamb ragout and chutney. A nice bite and packed with flavour. Kinda like Sloppy Joes, but way better!

Minced lamb curry with tomato dehydrated bread and chutney
Minced lamb curry with tomato dehydrated bread and chutney

Next, we had the “Gunpowder” which is a spicy Thai Sea bass, curry leaf powder, basmati rice porridge, and tamarind sugar. Despite the name, the dish was actually quite restrained with the flavours, but overall a good dish. Nothing out of this world compared to the previous dishes though.

Fiery spiced Thai seabass, curry leaf powder, basmati rice porridge, tamarind sugar
Fiery spiced Thai seabass, curry leaf powder, basmati rice porridge, tamarind sugar

Now, this was the highlight of the dinner. A very British Chicken Tikka Masala, served with freshly baked Naan. Honestly, this dish stole the show. It was a very intense and flavourful Chicken Tikka Masala, like I’ve never had before. The naan was awesome, with a crispy exterior coupled with a fluffy inside. The restaurant was kind enough to provide a free flow of naan, and we literally licked the bowl clean. I could eat this dish over and over, and never get bored with it. Definitely a frontrunner for my last meal, if it ever comes to that.

Chicken Tikka Masala
Chicken Tikka Masala
Naan
Naan

We finished with two more desserts, which were pleasant but couldn’t quite compare with the main dishes. I must admit I did like the Masala Chai crisp with Jujube jelly, which really tasted of Chai tea!

Masala Chai with Jujube jelly
Masala Chai with Jujube jelly

Wow! The dinner was absolutely amazing. Although the chef had trained with Ferran Adria, I’m glad he didn’t go too crazy with the molecular gastronomy bit, and focused on creating amazing flavour profiles. The courses were elegantly crafted with modern techniques, but Gaggan did not shy away from his Indian roots and flavours. Definitely one of the best meals I’ve had this year.

The damage came to 1800 baht (approx. RM180) per person, not inclusive of 10% service charge and 7% VAT. I thought it was quite good value for a 10 course meal with that level of cookery as well as novelty in flavours.

Well, so much for preconceptions.

Contact: 68/1 Soi Langsuan, Ploenchit Road, Lumpini, Bangkok 10330. (662)-652-1700. Website.

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