Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Gaggan...Progressive Indian

Our friend who was the lifestyle & food writer for the Wall Street Journal newspaper based in Bangkok told us that he just had two meals at a new restaurant and he said these two meals were the best meals he has had in Bangkok in a long time. With a statement like that...we HAD to try this place.

This restaurant is called Gaggan. Gaggan is the name of the chef...what is so interesting about this place is the story behind chef Gaggan. He first worked/ opened the Indian restaurant called 'Red' on soi Thonglor. He left Bangkok to study in Spain under the world's most famous chef...chef Ferran Adrià from the gastronomic restaurant El Bulli. Chef Gaggan studied under chef Ferran for a year and returned to Bangkok to open Gaggan (a long story made short).

The restaurant is situated in a stunningly beautiful house in a dead end soi on soi Langsuan. The house was recently re-develped & re-designed. The restaurant's façade is old colonial charm; the interiour design was understated but classy. There was a lovely garden terrace adjacent the restaurant for smoking or having a before or after drink and there was a cool outdoor lounge terrace on the second floor for a more cool vibe.

Here comes the most important and fascinating part of this post....the Food! Chef Gaggan decided that he did not want to open another 'typical' Indian restaurant; he wanted to open a 'progressive' Indian restaurant. It is not modern or fusion...it is very innovative indeed!

The amuse bouche was Yoghurt with Cumin, Salt & Pepper. The amuse bouche arrived the server told us to let the egg white amuse bouche slide into our mouths. The slippery & oval sphere of yoghurt was encased in agaragar. Once in the mouth; the sphere burst and an explosion of creaminess from the yoghurt & the light flavour of cumin, salt & pepper spread through out the mouth. This dish was a conversation starter for sure.

The second dish was Umami oyster with Coriander Foam. I have to start by saying this had to be one of the most amazing and YUMMIEST things I have ever eaten in Bangkok....ok that is out of the way. Oh, did I mention that this is one of the most stunning dishes I have ever tasted? OK, sorry. This was truly breath taking! Umami oyster in Bangkok??? What??? That is right; this is one of the rarest oysters in the world and we had it in a 'progressive' Indian restaurant in Bangkok. Go figure! The umami oyster was intensely savory, sweet, creamy, salty and full of spirit and finesse. The coriander foam was light & airy but rich in deep flavour. The combination was a gastronomical wonder. By the way...did I mention how good this dish was?

The next dish was Clams & Mussels Masala. The clams & mussels were fresh and the masala curry added such intense flavour. A great combination.

The next dish was Soft Shell Crab with Tamarind Chutney. The soft shell crab was deep fried to a deep brown...the crab was slightly crispy on the outside and tender on the inside. The tamarind chutney added lovely sweetness, sourness, spiciness & acidity. A rich & flavourful dish.

The next dish was a Slow Cooked Egg with Balsamic Vinegar. The egg was slow cooked at 62 degrees. The was a great idea to break the pace of the dinner. As you all know; the break is normally a sorbet. But I do like this idea...a slow cooked egg. The egg since it was slow cooked had a soft yet solid texture. The balsamic vinegar added the rich & intense acidity and flavour. A light break but so satisfying.

The next dish was Risotto with Indian Mushrooms. The risotto was cooked perfectly, the creaminess of the sauce was lovely and the mushroom added lovely texture and flavour. This was a controversy at our table because everyone was wondering how 'Indian' was this dish. So...we asked the chef. He explained that he makes the risotto Indian style; for example, the Italians use wine & broth to make risotto, for him he cooks the rice the Indian way (which I have no clue what that is) as well as using Indian ingredients like mushrooms from the northern Indian mountains. OK, we kind of can see the rational behind it....but the question still remained...can Risotto be considered Indian food?

The next dish was Ravioli stuffed with Cheese. The ravioli had a thin skin (which is a good thing), the cheese inside was soft and melted in the mouth. This was another controversial dish since no one knew what raviolis had to do with Indian food. The only thing we agreed on was that it was really yummy.

The next dish was Seafood Masala. Maybe the chef also wants to play with his clients perceptions and thoughts of what is suppose to be served in a 'progressive' Indian restaurant because after the raviolis...the seafood masala changed our minds again. The dish was accompanied with home made nan bread (which were really good). The seafood was fresh and had good texture. The curry was rich & creamy...perfect to dip the nan bread into. A nice way to end our meal before dessert.

However; the next dish was a shocker...Goat Brains. Chef Gagan came out and asked us how the meal was and of course we loved it. He explained that one of the signature dishes of the restaurant was 'goat brains'. We were so curious to know and what that tasted like. So, the chef made us tasting portions so we can experience this dish. The slow cooked goat brains had a texture of fois gras. The taste was a combination of curry & spices. What an eye opener and WOW...so so delicious. We decided that the next time we came back to Gagan; were were going to ask for the goat brains for the main course (with nan bread of course).

The next dish was Snow Flakes (yoghurt ice-cream freeze dried). The dessert did look like snow flakes. When you first placed a spoon full of the snow flakes into the mouth; the texture was cold & solid particles, but then in an instant the particles started melting the full flavour of yoghurt with slight vanilla after tastes hinged in the mouth. Simply amazing!

The next dish was Truffle Rock (with chocolate & peanut dirt). The last dish first looked very solid (even the name suggested it); however, then the spoon hit the rock, it was actually a soft piece truffle. Then we blended the 'dirt' with the truffle and it added nice flavours & textures. This chef is indeed a mad gastronomic scientist.

We enjoyed the food & experience so much that we had a long talk with the chef. He invited us into his lab. The beautiful colours & textures of his spices he uses to amaze our palettes.

More of the secret ingredients that goes into making all the wonderful dishes.

Overall; what a surprising and great journey. Chef Gaggan has changed our minds of what Indian food can be. He is inventive, outrageous, daring and fun (himself and his food). He has put so much thought into everything, even the plates that he uses to serve every dish has its own design and purpose. That kind of attention to detail, is great. Though we had a lot of food; we did not feel 'stuffed' like we would after eating in a 'normal' Indian restaurant.

The staff were fantastically professional, efficient and friendly. The atmosphere...though, had a old world colonial feel & class to it was actually comfortable & inviting. The ambiance was lively because the chef kept walking around to see if everyone was enjoying the food and having a good time. The staff were in an instant movement due to all the dishes coming out of the kitchen. And of course; the place itself is just beautiful.

You can choose à la carte; but I really recommend the 10 dish tasting menu like the one we had. The chef decides what you eat and the price? At 1,500 baht per person is a really good deal and so so worth it.

Address: 68/1 Langsuan Road, Bangkok 10330
Tel.: +6626521700



Riya said...

I plan to dine at "Gagan". I have been waiting for you to blog about it. I would like to know what do you think about it before going there myself.

mtfnmtfn said...

The indian restaurant hasn't been on my list before but this one really interests me. Definitely, must try.

prayer.t said...

going there tonight. excited!!!

Daneeya said...

I've been dying to go here. Your post always makes me so hungry!


Tassawan said...

Love your blog....I'm a fan :)

foodhoe said...

I've ever heard of umami oysters, but they sound fabulous... The entire meal sounded creative and delicious, but your description of the mollusk really got my attention!

Jinn said...

This is my next destination after been reading your blog for a year.

The Mistress of Spices said...

We are moving to Bangkok in a couple of months...can't wait to check this place out!

SK.Menken said...

Wonderful place, funny Chef and the food.. god! 2 michelin stars perhaps?

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