With the announcement of Gaggan winning number one is Asia’s 50 Best Restaurants for the fourth year in a row, I thought it would be a good time to finally share the full meal we had at Gaggan in Bangkok on Thanksgiving in 2016. Chef Gaggan Anand put Indian food in the fine dining spotlight.
Sometimes we have meals that are change your entire life, and this was one of them.
Gaggan uses Indian flavors with modern gastronomy techniques like freeze-drying fruit and turning it to dust, and making rice paper look like plastic pouches. You may have seen Gaggan on the Netflix documentary Chef’s Table.
After a life-changing stint at the Spanish molecular gastronomy powerhouse El Bulli, chef Gaggan Anand opened his namesake restaurant in Bangkok to create “progressive Indian cuisine”, which is essentially deconstructed Indian street food. Ferran Adrià, creator of El Bulli, encourage Gaggan to apply modern gastronomy to the food of his birthplace in Kolkata, India.
In a small alley off Bangkok’s upscale Soi Lang Suan, Gaggan is tucked away charming colonial-style building with whitewashed wooden floors, cozy wicker chairs, and a giant marble feature wall. Once seated, boundary-pushing dishes come out in rapid fire using liquid nitrogen, smoke and dehydrated ingredients, then continues into a surprising array of courses, each with a nod to traditional Indian cuisine.
Each course of the twenty-five course pre-fixe meal was one bite or two (except later in the meal). Below, you’ll see Gaggan’s menu—yep, all we got were emojis. The emoji menu was a “surprise” with only little explanation of each bite when it arrived in front of us.
Their goal is to encourage diners to eat dishes they might not try otherwise like goat brain, charcoal or Indian spices. They even played a game with us where we had to guess what ingredients were used in each dish. We were curious, surprised, and delighted by each course; the food was creative and delicious.
In this blog post, I’ll put the corresponding emoji, a description of the dish, and my photo of the dish.
Starting with this amazing emoji menu, we had no idea what we were getting for each course.
💋 Ginger Kiss
A ginger jelly kiss made with lychee and roses
🌰 Edible Plastic Indian Spiced Nuts (front)
One of the first bites is a homemade blend of nutmeg, wasabi, peas, and macadamia nuts, in “edible plastic”, made of potato starch and soy lecithin which dissolve in the mouth (originally made by Chef Ferran Adria at El Bulli).
💥 Yoghurt Explosion! (back)
This little slippery bite is black salt and Chana masala in the “spherification technique”, as a nod to Ferran Adria’s famous ‘Olives’ from el Bulli.
Spherification involves submerging a liquid with sodium alginate in a bath of calcium to bind a liquid inside of a thin gelatin case. It looks like an egg yolk but is actually chutney-flavored yogurt sphere that bursts into liquid when you bite into it.
🍚 Yellow Curry (top left)
This yellow curry cupcake is based on Indian lentils and rice. The sambal turned to foam when eaten, which tasted just like naan bread and curry.
🌶 Chocolate Chili Bomb Candies (center)
This sweet looking treat was actually like a entire Indian meal in one bite. You know the scene in Charlie And The Chocolate Factory where Violet has the “Three Course Dinner Chewing Gum” and it takes her through an entire Thanksgiving Meal in one bite? Yeah, kinda like that, but with an Indian curry.
🍆 Sweet Indian soft eggplant cookie (top right)
First, they freeze dried eggplant and then molded into a cookie with honey chutney to melt in your mouth.
🍄 Truffle Ghewar
A salty truffle Ghewar (usually made as a popular Indian sweet) are topped up with Truffles.
At first it tasted like nothing but a cracker with pâté, but as it develops on the palette, the Indian spices evolve and sprout to the surface, then topped with truffles.
🍦Mango-Uni-Wasabi “Ice Cream Cone”
The first bite is the crunch of the mango cone, which took three days to create; an arduous process of creating a mango batter and then a “cracker”, then rolling it into a cone. The mango combined with the uni creates a surprisingly sweet combination. The last bite is a strong hit of wasabi straight to your face.
Gaggan’s take on the traditional pork vindaloo dish became a bite-sized delight when served on a bird nest of spicy fried potato.
Though it just looks like a styrofoam golf ball (to mimic American “Indian take away” culture), the inside is filled with coconut and mango chutney. I know it’s hard to believe this is actually really good food, but that’s part of Gaggan’s charm. He loves to PLAY.
🍣 Blue Fin Sushi
Looks like a sushi on a styrofoam bed. Blue Fin Tuna is set atop “sushi rice” melted like unsweetened cotton candy in your mouth, which was actually a dashi meringue. Whoa.
🌮 Blue Fin Tuna Taco
Spicy Blue Fin tuna was placed inside a 4 grain cookie, seasoned to taste like traditional Indian bread (Naan). This was Gaggan’s take on an Indian taco.
🍗 Fried Chick Pea
This is a tiny samosa. Like a lot of Indian cuisine, this dish is all vegetarian, but with an added “bone” as decoration to make it appear as satisfying as eating meat off a bone.
🌽 Corn (Indian Foie Gras)
Little corn crackers with a goat brain pâté/mousse on top. The goat brain was very fatty and creamy. Gaggan was worried no one would order this dish because eating goat brain sounds scary.
🍋Passion Fruit Surprise
For the first time in the meal, a spoon is brought out. Inside of adorable passion fruit sits a foie gras and yuzu jelly surprise.
🌑 Charcoal Fritter
This dish, served in a moon crater ceramic bowl, is a simple fish fritter inspired by three different dishes of India, coated in charcoal tempura.
When is dish arrived at our table, the server told us that it was a surprise, like most of the meal by now. It looked like a real charcoal, which I’m not opposed to eating in moderation, but when I put my spoon went into it, it revealed a saffron colored surprised. The inside filling, which got its color from chili, was made of three different kinds of fish from different parts of India. The exterior was coated in charcoal and organic bamboo, then tempura fried.
🍵 Tea Ceremony
This is Gaggan’s take on the Japanese Tea ceremony. Local Thai tomatoes are in a small pool of green chili oil, then served with red matcha tea soup prepared table side. The server performs an interpretation of a Japanese tea ceremony by creating a tomato consommé before our eyes.
💐 Roses (from seeds)
Art on a plate! A traditional lamb chop is served with a sauce of purple sweet potato and rose that were planted next to each other as seeds and grew together until harvested and plated in an intricate Rangoli-inspired pattern.
🦀 Crab Curry
Traditional South Indian curry, because you can’t have an Indian meal without some fucking curry.
🍩 Kheer Cronut
This gift from the heavens tasted like a tiny eclair inside of a croissant. Kheer is rice pudding, made by boiling rice, broken wheat, tapioca, or vermicelli with milk and sugar.
❄ Apple Snow
idk I was too busy eating to take notes
🇮🇳Chai pop rocks (India style)
Chai masala on a rice cookie. Pop rocks to push the edge of the meal and give you one last punch in the mouth (in the best way possible, of course).
Final Gaggan Review
The dinner was a little over $100 per person with just food. Their cocktails were also incredible—my husband ordered an old fashioned that came to our table under a glass dome of smoke.
Gaggan wanted the entire meal to be an experience, and that’s exactly what he’s achieved. This one of the best meals I’ve ever had in my entire life. It was inspiring, fun, and delicious.
Gaggan made its Michelin debut with two stars. Gaggan will close in 2020 to start a new restaurant in Japan.
How did you get a reservation at Gaggan? A reservation has to be made one month in advance using Gaggan’s online reservation system or by calling.