There’s quirkiness, there’s humor, the impeccable culinary techniques and outstanding service – a journey led by larger than life Chef Gaggan.
Bangkok… the epic centre of Asia which has stood for centuries as the gateway to all the things one may never expect. If it is your first time, you may end up foregoing all the things you have planned – end up in the night markets, drinking until morning hours – dancing with the locals to a cover of Ed Sheeran in the pull up booze truck.
A gastronome would have none of that planned, except the booze truck visit perhaps – an itinerary would include certain food hotspots, markets and restaurants that one cannot leave the city without paying a visit. As the best restaurant in Asia on the List of The World’s 50 Best Restaurants, clocking in at number 7 worldwide, Gaggan is one of these restaurants.
Humbly named after the legend behind the theater, Chef Gaggan Anand is about to magnify all the magic you have experienced, thus far in Bangkok, to another level.
You enter a colonial building down a back street that you thought would be a wrong turn. But it wasn’t; it may have been the best final destination you have chosen that day.
What awaits you is beyond what you may dream. Chef Gaggan is a chef, yes, but like none other. It’s the incredible story of how he created this dream into a reality, in a country famed for it’s fine cuisine, and it’s not the Thai you are about to experience in any sense — except perhaps from the hospitality of the welcoming team.
Gaggan Anand’s road to the peak of gastronomy in Asia and the world is no ordinary one. Having worked the streets of Kolkata with his brother–serving around 1,000 meals a day with staple dishes such as Dahl and curry on the menus–he loved the Indian cuisine, but the basic preparation en mass and the variety on offer wasn’t enough for him. This combined with the end of his marriage landed Gaggan to resettle in Bangkok at the age of 27–and with just $500 in his pocket.
He worked numerous restaurants in the capital of Thailand before one night of partying that ended with Gaggan calling his friends to tell them he would soon open his own eatery. After numerous attempts to join elBulli, Gaggan succeeded as he found a handful of investors and became the first Indian national to spend time researching at the famed culinary institution under Ferran Adrià. He returned to Bangkok with fresh ideas and vision to open Gaggan – Progressive Indian Cuisine.
Five years later and it is one of the world’s finest and raved about dining experiences, with meals that can stretch up to three hours with Gaggan’s take on the modern Indian cuisine. The succession of courses is awe-inspiring entertainment, without being cliché in presentation, texture, taste or indeed the contrasts between them all.
Although Gaggan sources ingredients from all over the world, he relies as much as possible on local produce, particularly of which is in season, and only relies on the molecular gastronomy items from elBulli.
The wine list, which has been carefully curated by head Sommelier, Vladimir Kojic, is full of surprising new vintages and pairings that excite the palate when combined with the intriguing Indian flavors that the team serves up.
Many recent trips to Japan, especially Fukuoka and Tokyo, as well as collaborative events with Japanese chefs, can be sampled throughout the menu, mainly with ingredients from the land of the rising sun, like the plump sea urchins with a gin and tonic gel, served in a nori roll.
Wasabi minions are as quirky in taste as they are in presentation with the famed Japanese radish flavor to cleanse the palate. And one of the courses you have to “lick it up,” where as humbly instructed on the menu and in the wording on your plate, you simply grab the plate with both hands and for a few moments time travel to your childhood, where you may have been finishing your favorite meals this way.
Perhaps the most important ingredient to the chef and the success of Gaggan, is the magic of his team – a compilation of the world’s best creatives from Poland, India, Thailand, Indonesia, Costa Rica and Peru (just to name a few).
Gaggan plans to close in 2020 to pursue new ideas and ventures, making it truly a once in a lifetime experience you only have two years remaining to fulfill.
Photography by Thom Rigney