[Bangkok] Gaggan - Asia's #1 Restaurant
Gaggan almost needs no introduction to foodies as it is currently #23 on World's 50 Best and #1 on Asia's 50 Best for 2 years in a row. I thoroughly enjoyed watching Gaggan's episode on Chef's Table so I definitely wanted to eat here when we were planning our trip to Bangkok. From TripAdvisor, I read that many people had issues with the reservations but luckily I was able to confirm my reservation through email with no issues at all when I contacted them two months in advance. Two time slots are available at either 6pm or 9pm as they do two rounds of seating each night. I had chosen the earlier time slot and at 6pm sharp, I found myself at an elegant Colonial-style house where we would be eating "Progressive Indian Cuisine" for the next 3 hours.
We sat upstairs and right outside of the room which houses the chef's counter but it was unclear to me if anyone could have requested to sit there as that option wasn't offered to me at the time of reservation. A playful menu consisting only of emojis had already been placed on our table for our 22 course meal so as to keep the dishes a surprise and at the end we were given another menu which contained a short description of each dish.
Gaggan had trained at the legendary elBulli before opening his own restaurant and it was clear that his experience there had a major influence on his creations. In fact, Gaggan felt like another one of Ferran Adria's extensions in a way but located in Bangkok instead of Spain. The creative dishes with heavy Japanese influence reminded me of my recent meal at Tickets in Barcelona but the execution and combination of flavors didn't work as well here for me. The food is described as "Progressive Indian Cuisine" but I'm not sure what that's supposed to mean really. Maybe context is required but some of the dishes didn't seem to be Indian at all. Keeping an open mind and clearing it of any preconceived notion of what Indian cuisine should be are required before eating at Gaggan but even then I'm not convinced that it is Asia's #1 restaurant simply based on its flavors (especially the ones with Japanese influence). Some dishes were great, some were forgettable and some were downright confusing.
We started with a very cute Kiss Me which was a jelly made with lychee, yuzu and rosemary.
The Plastic Nuts were housed in edible plastic and decorated like an Indian flag.
The Yogurt Explosion was a seeming tribute to elBulli's famous Liquid Olives but with an Indian spin by offering a burst of mango chutney flavors in a spherified yogurt bomb. The spices were a tad strong though so the flavors were not as balanced as it could be.
Chocolate Chilly Bomb
The Mango Wasabi Uni Sundae was the first of the many dishes that had a Japanese influence but the mango was too sweet and didn't really match well with the delicate flavors of the uni.
It was definitely interesting to be served Chutoro Sushi in an Indian restaurant but then again I'm reminded of the reinvention of sushi dishes that I had at Tickets which worked way better there than the ones here.
The Akami Wrap which contained chopped akami tuna was very cute though and quite possibly the smallest taco I've ever seen.
The Corn Goat Brain was a surprise as we only found out what we really ate at the end of the meal. I'm not too troubled at having eaten goat brain though after eating lamb brain from Alchemist in Copenhagen.
The Foie Gras Passionfruit Yuzu Jelly was another Japanese influenced dish that I wasn't a fan of. The richness of the foie gras and the sweetness of the fruit jelly didn't compliment each other at all and instead made for an awful combination of flavors that was sickening to eat almost.
The Charcoal was an impressive dish though with a combination of sea bass, halibut and turbot which had been deep-fried in bamboo charcoal.
The Tomato Matcha was...confusing. They made a big deal about serving the tomato consomme in a matcha ceremony complete with a wooden whisk and all, but it just tasted unimpressive - I'd almost expect brighter flavors or something like a refreshing tomato water but instead it tasted very plain. Style over substance much?
The Lamb Chop Rangoli looked gorgeous with rangoli made of beetroot and sweet potato while the New Zealand lamb chop had great flavors.
The Crab Curry Coconut Rice was hands down the best dish of the night! The curry was rich and creamy with big chunks of crab meat - I'd wanted a second portion if I wasn't full already.
We had 3 desserts after the curry to conclude our meal but they were all rather weak in comparison to the earlier dishes.
Indian National Drink
So is Gaggan worth visiting? Depends on what you are looking for I guess. If you had to choose between Nahm and here to splurge on a meal in Bangkok, I would choose Gaggan because they are offering something very different. At the end of the meal, we were told that there are plans to close the restaurant in a few years and that Gaggan will move to Japan so if you are dying the try the restaurant, better to visit sooner rather than later.
68/1 Soi Langsuan Ploenchit Road Lumpini Bangkok 10330
Tel: +66 2 652 1700
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