Last August, Mr O’T and I spent three wonderful days with his parents, in Thailand’s bustling capital Bangkok. After a fabulous evening drinking Perrier-Jouët at the world’s highest open air champagne bar, dining somewhere equally fabulous for our last evening was a must! As a massive foodie, a visit to Bangkok wouldn’t have been complete without a restaurant reservation at Gaggan.
Awarded the title of the best restaurant in Asia 2016 by San Pellegrino, Gaggan still holds onto this title today. In addition to being ranked the No.1 restaurant in Asia, the restaurant is also listed as the No.23 Best Restaurant in the World. Not bad for a guy who began his career as a drummer in a local rock band!
Gaggan is housed inside a beautiful yet discreet colonial building in the Lumpini area of Bangkok. The decor is simple with dark wood and white washed walls and adds to the zen like feel of the restaurant. With tables both upstairs and downstairs, the layout is a little like a house.
We were fortunate to be seated in our own private dining space upstairs. It was very discreet, away from prying eyes and separated from the communal landing space by a beautiful book shelf and long billowy curtains. As soon as we were seated, we were presented with menus and given a fresh cold towel to prepare ourselves for what lay in wait – a culinary journey of Progressive Indian cuisine.
Despite being advertised as an 18 course menu, the first 10 courses (yes ok I know 10 sounds a little ridiculous), were actually ‘bites’ and by that I mean very small bite sized pieces. We were also requested to eat all 10 bite sized courses with our hands – a definite first for me and an experience I rather enjoyed.
The first bite served was ‘pickled cherry soda’ which was quite literally two pickled cherries, laid on a small bucket of ice and enjoyed with a single test tube of cherry flavoured soda. I must admit to not being a fan of the soda but I did appreciate the innovative concept.
I fared much better with the ‘yoghurt explosion’ which was served on a silver spoon. This was very jelly like in texture and had a good flavour to it.
The Khakra Eel Sandwich came next. This wasn’t my favourite dish as I don’t like eel but it was beautifully presented.
Other bites included edible plastic spiced nuts, Black Forest Gateau, Pork Vindaloo, Mango Uni Sundae and my favourite which was the uncooked curry cookie. This looked and tasted a bit like a ball of cookie dough but with the addition of curry spice and worked surprisingly well!
After polishing off the starters, it was time to get serious and move onto the first main course of the evening which was Charcoal. Despite looking exactly like its name, it was infact an incredible combination of seabass and potatoes. I loved this dish and was ever so sad when it finished.
The next dish was the ‘Magic Mushroom’ and reminded me of a concoction that you would expect to see from Heston Blumenthal. This was a combination of truffle and forest mushrooms shaped into a log, accompanied with truffle mousse, edible soil and garden. This was ingenious and one of my favourite dishes of the evening.
The Rangoli, tandoori Lamb chops were also a big hit. Whilst simple in presentation, they tasted deliciously moist.
My favourite main dish of the evening was the grand finale, ‘I want my Curry’. 14 courses in and we were all quite ready for Gaggan’s signature dish.
Unfortunately, I was that enamoured with the curry that other than taking photos of the Naan bread at the beginning, I forgot to take any of the actual curry! This was the simplest of all the dishes but it was oh so good! The chicken kofta curry, minced lamb masala, rice and naan complimented each other beautifully.
The dessert round was probably my favourite, owing to my sweet tooth. We began proceedings with a Peach Snowball and this was quite literally melt in your mouth. Once the outer layer was cracked open with a spoon, an infusion of peach melba ice chutney, Japanese summer peach and ginger snow trickled out. This was my favourite dish of the night – ok so I may have said this more than once by now.
This was swiftly followed by Mango Duet Lollipops. The Mango sorbet was in honour of Gaggan’s favourite childhood ice-cream.
We ended the evening on a high with an ‘Infusion of Sandalwood earthy roots’.
Carrot ice-cream was sandwiched in between macarons, sandalwood water was infused with honey and rice puffs were topped with rose mousse and fennel powder. This was an exquisite dessert and a fabulous dish to end a truly memorable evening.
So, is this really the best restaurant in Asia I hear you ask? There isn’t really a straight forward answer to this question as it’s a rather difficult title to decipher on. I mean how do the experts really go about distinguishing one great restaurant from another especially when they all serve such varied ranges of cuisine? That being said, we did have a fantastic evening and I will say this – it was great value for money especially compared with other restaurants on San Pellegrino’s list and the service was top notch. There were a couple of courses that I didn’t really like but that was all down to personal taste and not because anything was done badly. This is certainly an innovative take on Indian cuisine which is why the term ‘progressive’ aptly fits the bill!
Have you ever eaten at Gaggan before?
Maggie O xox