I love it when food becomes an experience. It’s not just delicious, but something comes together in the texture, taste, combination and presentation that transcends just your typical yummy meal. Gaggan, a progressive Indian restaurant here in Bangkok, the creation of Chef Gaggan Anand, a native of Kolkata, is one of those food experiences you are not likely to forget.
Naysayers always balk when portions appear small or attention is paid to they way a dish is plated. Artsy fartsy? Whatever. There may be a point there when the food is mediocre or you end the night hungry, but at Gaggan I walked away pleasantly full at the end of it all, and each and every one of the yes, modest-sized items of the ten-dish tasting menu, compelled me to pause and roll it around on my tongue. While I wouldn’t say this is a not a place to gather with friends for great conversation, I do believe there will be long silent pauses while diners concentrate on each spoonful.
In fact, the very first item came on a ceramic soup spoon. What’s this? A spoonful of yogurt? Yes and no. The chef puts some rich Indian yogurt into an alginate bath which puts a clear gelatinous membrane around it. The result is a sort of egg yolk of yogurt. This slides off the spoon into your mouth and breaks open across the tongue. Both sensual and flavorful and not at all your typical dining experience.
Familiar items such as chicken tikka or clam masala, just have that extra care of a great chef, the essence of coriander or mint in the foam pack confident flavors that play well together but neither disappear in the tender meat nor overpower.
You can get foie gras in many places, but Gaggan takes it in two directions. The Thai love it seared and so Gaggan gives it a bit of the pan and torch to crisp up the outside while the center is a cream-textured red. But on the other side of the plate, he presents a blend of freeze-dried foie gras and raspberries which are shredded and blended together.
Gaggan Anand shakes his head at the molecular gastronomy label and I’d agree it sounds a bit of nonsense-marketing/let’s-call-it-a-trend terminology. “Progressive” is the label he prefers. It’s still Indian food at its heart and soul but with methods and combinations that take it in a modern direction. Even the cocktails get some alternative treatment, perhaps nitrogen-frozen liquor cubes left to melt into the mix, or a mojito made with dark rum and whole sugar cane melted into it for full flavor.
The ten-dish tasting menu is highly recommended for those who do not know where to start, but a la carte is also available. Make reservations for sure. And make them well in advance (days, perhaps weeks!) if you want a seat in front of the picture window that provides a view of what’s going on in the kitchen. It’s a nice show, but the real enjoyment begins when your plate arrives at your table.
Gaggan Progressive Indian Restaurant location and contact information
More Photos below….