LARGER THAN LIFE: GAGGAN
Posted on Saturday, August 24 2019 11:30:00 PM in Stories by Vivid Cusine
There’s quirkiness, there’s humour, the impeccable culinary techniques & 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.
You book your flights, sort out your accommodation well in advance in an area you feel is the most appropriate to explore all things the beautiful city has to offer. You search through numerous TripAdvisor reviews and Air BnB experiences and schedule that up for your perfect time in the capital.
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.
You arrive in a Tuk Tuk, the sometimes over the top elaborate four-wheel cart with banging cheesy Asian techno and neon lights to blind you for the evening…And just when you thought the previous day or two was a touch peculiar and mesmerizing – you arrive at Gaggan.
Humbly named after the legend behind the theatre, Chef Gaggan Anand is about to magnify all the magic you have experienced so far in Bangkok - to another level.
You enter a colonial building down a back street that you thought would be a wrong turning, which was not – it may have been the best final destination you have chosen that day.
What awaits you – is beyond what you have ever dreamed off. Chef Gaggan is a chef, yes – but like no other. It’s the incredible story of how he created this dream into reality - in a country famed for it’s fine cuisine, and it’s not Thai you are about to experience in any sense except the hospitality of the welcoming team.
Having posted an Instagram story or two upon your arrival with an emoji reflecting your awesome feeling, you are then greeted with an emoji menu. Yes – you read it right…A menu that is full of smileys and pictograms to represent the tasting dishes of no less than twenty five that you are about to dive into.
Pastry kitchen downstairs
You then realise you are in the collaboration event with just as quirky and fun - Zaiyu Hasegawa frfrom Tokyo. The chefs are on fire, they are "as happy as Larry" and no one is gonna stop them from creating the most intriguing experience for everyone on the dining table.
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 a 1,000 meals a day with staple dishes such as Dahl and curry on the menus - he loved his Indian cuisine but the basic preparation en mass and the variety on offer wasn’t enough for him.
A bad marriage made him pack his stuff, leave everything behind and with $500 in his pocket - Gaggan set-off for Bangkok at the age of 27.
Gaggan was after something big and big he found.
He worked numerous restaurants in the capital of Thailand before getting pretty drunk one night, calling some friends and saying he will open his own....so he did.
After finding some investors and numerous attempts to join ElBulli - he succeeded and became the first Indian national to have spent some time researching at the infamous culinary institution under Ferran Adrià
He returned to Bangkok with fresh ideas and vision and opened Gaggan - Progressive Indian Cuisine. Five years later - it is one of the world’s finest and raved about dining experiences.
The dinging experience here can stretch for up to 3 hours or so with Gaggan’s take on the modern Indian cuisine. The succession of courses leaves in you awe and entertains, without being cliché in presentation, texture, taste or indeed the contrasts between them all.
Chef Zaiyu Hasegawa
Uni Gin & Tonic
Goat Brain Flower-power
Muscat Riesling Milk Cake
Gaggan sources all over the world for his incredible menu, relying as much as possible on local produce which is in season. The molecular gastronomy items are all from ElBulli – where he has trained in the past - as he vows just by them and no other supplier.
The wine list, which has been carefully thought out by head Sommellier – Vladimir Kojic is full of surprising new vintages and pairings that excite the palate when combined with the intriguing Indian flavors the team has put together on your plate (although not many plates were witnessed and 80% of the dishes are eaten by hand)
You will encounter quirky dishes in terms of their names, their presentation and indeed the surprise for the palate. As with many high-end restaurants, the ingredients and the menu is very seasonality driven, whilst some favourites remain forever, such as the spherified yoghurt – a take on spherified olive from the ElBulli restaurant where he once trained.
Many recent trips to Japan, especially Fukuoka and Tokyo and collaboration events with Japanese chefs can be felt throughout the menu, mainly with ingredients from the land of the rising sun, such as super plump sea urchins which come served with a gin & tonic gel, served in a nori roll.
Wasabi minions are as quirky in taste as they are in presentation with the famed Japanese radish flavour to cleanse the palette. 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 your both hands and for a few moments time travel to your childhood, where you may have been finishing your favourite meals this way.
And perhaps the most important to the Chef and the success of Gaggan, are the real magic ingredients which is his team - having put together of the world’s best creatives from Poland, India, Thailand, Indonesia, Costa Rica, Peru (just to name a few) – they work tirelessly on pushing the restaurant to new heights.
Having topped the Asia’s 50 Best Restaurant list for the 3rd year running in 2017, the new year welcomed the restaurant team with the inaugural release of the Michelin Guide in Bangkok, landing Gaggan straight in with 2 Michelin stars as well as placing them number 7 overall worldwide. In 2018, Gaggan was once again crowned #1 on Asia's 50 Best and climbing to fifth place on the World's 50 Best list.
In 2019, Gaggan secure the #4 spot in the world, #2 in Asia and has retained his 2 Michelin stars for the 2nd year running.
Head Chef at Gaggan – Rydo Anton
Gaggan planned to close in July 2020 to pursue many new ideas and ventures and this is set in stone, however due to a certain dispute with the owners - sadly, they last service was on 24th August 2019, with a new location Gaggan plans to re-open in October this year, likewise in Bangkok.
Gaggan, 68/1 Soi Langsuan, Ploenchit Road Lumpini Khet Pathum Wan, Krung Thep Maha Nakhon 10330, Bangkok, Thailand (now closed).