Idly Sambar Seventh Course Gaggan Restaurant Bangkok Thailand Asia's 50 Best World's 50 Best Fine Dining Tasting Menu Rice Bowl Emoji Food Courses Progressive Indian Cuisine

Gaggan Review: Asia’s Top Restaurant – Now Three Years in a Row

Gaggan

  • When:  February 2017
  • Male DINK Rating:  14/15
  • Female DINK Rating:  14/15
  • Total Cost:  $328; Food Cost:  $267

We’ll start by saying that Gaggan greatly exceeded our expectations. Since the cuisine is dubbed as “progressive Indian” – and we haven’t eaten much Indian food – we honestly didn’t know what to expect or if we would even like it.

The restaurant is located in a freestanding two-story house down a small, dead-end street in the Pathum Wan district of Bangkok. There is a decent-sized sign for the restaurant on the main street, but it would be very helpful to have the address written down for your taxi driver (or, do what we did and take an Uber for about the same price). The house is pretty and landscaped on the outside, and that continues into the well-appointed interior. As we walked into the reception hallway, Chef Gaggan, wearing a t-shirt with the saying “Hug Me I Smell Like Curry,” was actually there talking to some other patrons. Behind the hostess station, his “50 Best Restaurants” awards were proudly on display (we’ll get to that in a second). After giving our reservation name, we were quickly seated upstairs.

Gaggan restaurant exterior Bangkok Thailand Asia's 50 Best World's 50 Best Fine Dining Tasting Menu Emoji Food Courses Progressive Indian Cuisine
Exterior of the restaurant

Speaking of the 50 Best Restaurants awards, Gaggan has held the number one spot atop the Asia’s 50 Best Restaurants for two consecutive years – 2015 and 2016.  Two nights after we dined at Gaggan, the award ceremony for the 2017 list was announced in no other than Bangkok, and Gaggan retained its number one ranking – now for three years in a row!  Having dined at number 3, Amber, and number 5, Nahm (and about to dine at number 2, Restaurant Andre, and number 10, Burnt Ends, on this trip), and several Michelin-starred restaurants in Asia, Gaggan is our favorite so far. Let’s get into why…

Gaggan Restaurant Bangkok Thailand Asia's 50 Best World's 50 Best Fine Dining Tasting Menu Emoji Food Courses Progressive Indian Cuisine
Upstairs Dining Room

First, the menu is unique – it’s playful, fun, and interesting. Other than being creative with the theme of the menu (emojis), Gaggan had to actually create 25 courses, which seems like quite a feat. The first 16 courses were bite-sized and were served in quick succession (on purpose). The remaining courses were only slightly larger and were served at a slower pace. While many chefs are pulling away from the “marathon” tasting menus of 20+ courses, this menu and experience never felt like a marathon. It kept your interest, wasn’t too much food, and it didn’t take forever (our meal lasted about 2.5 hours). We enjoyed the long menu, as it afforded us an opportunity to sample an array of the chef’s offerings.

Gaggan Restaurant Bangkok Thailand Asia's 50 Best World's 50 Best Fine Dining Tasting Menu Emojis Food Courses Progressive Indian Cuisine
The emoji tasting menu (without descriptions) provided at the beginning of the meal.

As there were 25 courses, in the interest of brevity and since everyone loves pictures anyway, we’ll try to keep the food descriptions and comments short and sweet.

A (Spice) B (Citrus) = C (Cola):  Served with liquid nitrogen steaming from beneath the small cups. This (we would call an) aperitif had smooth and calming lemon taste, with a spice we couldn’t put our finger on. Good start.

A (Spice) + B (Citrus) = C (Cola) First Course Liquid Nitrogen Gaggan Restaurant Bangkok Thailand Asia's 50 Best World's 50 Best Fine Dining Tasting Menu Lemon Emoji Food Courses Progressive Indian Cuisine
Lemon Emoji: A (Spice) + B (Citrus) = C (Cola)

Yogurt Explosion:  This is one of Gaggan’s signature dishes, and it is his (Indian) take on El Bulli’s liquified olive. It was served chilled, with a very thin membrane outer shell. The inside tasted like yogurt. Good taster, but nothing extraordinary.

Yogurt Explosion Second Course Gaggan Restaurant Bangkok Thailand Asia's 50 Best World's 50 Best Fine Dining Tasting Menu Explosion Emoji Food Courses Progressive Indian Cuisine
Explosion Emoji: Yogurt Explosion

Bombay Bhel: Pretty presentation, with strong (but not overpowering) tamarind dots. The rice crisps inside were accompanied by a few dried herbs. A bit difficult to eat, but very good.

Bombay Bhel Third Course Tamarind Crisp Gaggan Restaurant Bangkok Thailand Asia's 50 Best World's 50 Best Fine Dining Tasting Menu Wheat Emoji Food Courses Progressive Indian Cuisine
Wheat Emoji: Bombay Bhel

Eggplant Cookie: Neither of us are big fans of eggplant, but this course was great – the eggplant almost tasted like barbecue. The “cookie” dough was almost like a macaron, and it melted in your mouth like a powder. We could have each eaten at least one more of these.

Eggplant Cookie Macaron Gaggan Restaurant Bangkok Thailand Asia's 50 Best World's 50 Best Fine Dining Tasting Menu Eggplant Emoji Food Courses Progressive Indian Cuisine
Eggplant Emoji: Eggplant Cookie

Chili Bonbon:  These, too! The white chocolate shell gave way to a spicy and delicious red chili water. The spice was tamed by the white chocolate. Perfect balance.

Chili Bonbon Fifth Course White Chocolate Shell Red Chili Water Gaggan Restaurant Bangkok Thailand Asia's 50 Best World's 50 Best Fine Dining Tasting Menu Chili Emoji Food Courses Progressive Indian Cuisine
Hot Pepper Emoji: Chili Bonbon

Green Peas Mushroom Roll: Truffle mousse – need we say more? Arguably the best presented course, all the ingredients went together very well. Again, we could have eaten at least one more of these.

Green Peas Mushroom Roll Sixth Course Truffle Mousse Gaggan Restaurant Bangkok Thailand Asia's 50 Best World's 50 Best Fine Dining Tasting Menu Mushroom Emoji Food Courses Progressive Indian Cuisine
Mushroom Emoji: Green Peas Mushroom Roll

Idly Sambar: We can’t recall the full description of this course, and neither one of us had strong feelings on it.

Idly Sambar Seventh Course Gaggan Restaurant Bangkok Thailand Asia's 50 Best World's 50 Best Fine Dining Tasting Menu Rice Bowl Emoji Food Courses Progressive Indian Cuisine
Cooked Rice Emoji: Idly Sambar

Coriander Nest Green Apple: This course was good, if not a bit random. It was a bit difficult to eat, but the green apple taste shone through.

Coriander Nest Green Apple Eighth Course Gaggan Restaurant Bangkok Thailand Asia's 50 Best World's 50 Best Fine Dining Tasting Menu Green Apple Emoji Food Courses Progressive Indian Cuisine
Green Apple Emoji: Coriander Nest Green Apple

Charcoal Prawn Amritsari: Looking like a lump of charcoal, this course was set to deceive, for inside the crispy ball was an incredibly flavorful Indian paella, for lack of a better term. Very good and very rich.

Charcoal Prawn Amritsari Ninth Course Paella Gaggan Restaurant Bangkok Thailand Asia's 50 Best World's 50 Best Fine Dining Tasting Menu Charcoal Emoji Food Courses Progressive Indian Cuisine
New Moon Emoji: Charcoal Prawn Amritsari

Aloo Gobi Caviar: We’re partial to anything with caviar, but this course was a bit disappointing. The potato was too dry (maybe it was supposed to be?), and all traces of the caviar were lost. We could taste the dill, though.

Aloo Gobi Caviar Tenth Course Dill Potato Gaggan Restaurant Bangkok Thailand Asia's 50 Best World's 50 Best Fine Dining Tasting Menu Potato Emoji Food Courses Progressive Indian Cuisine
Potato Emoji: Aloo Gobi Caviar

Citrus Waffle Goat Brain: We thought it was pate. It’s actually brain, a sort of “Indian foie gras,” according to Gaggan himself. In his Netflix Chef’s Table episode, he doesn’t like to tell people what it is (the goat brain) until they’ve already had it. The waffle had a good citrus flavor, almost like a scone. Very good dish. Glad we tried some goat brain.

Citrus Waffle Goat Brain Eleventh Course Foie Gras Pate Gaggan Restaurant Bangkok Thailand Asia's 50 Best World's 50 Best Fine Dining Tasting Menu Orange Emoji Food Courses Progressive Indian Cuisine
Tangerine Emoji: Citrus Waffle Goat Brain

Amazake Liver: The crisps were good, but admittedly got stuck in our teeth a bit. The liver was similarly good; however, not extraordinarily so. A solid course, but no wow factor.

Amazake Liver Twelfth Course Gaggan Restaurant Bangkok Thailand Asia's 50 Best World's 50 Best Fine Dining Tasting Menu Sake Emoji Food Courses Progressive Indian Cuisine
Sake Emoji: Amazake Liver

Uni Ice Cream: Absolutely awesome. Who doesn’t want a tiny ice cream cone with wasabi ice cream at the bottom, mango puree, topped with uni? The flavors were great separately and also paired perfectly. The best course on the menu, in our opinion.

Uni Ice Cream Thirteenth Course Sea Urchin Wasabi Ice Cream Mango Puree Gaggan Restaurant Bangkok Thailand Asia's 50 Best World's 50 Best Fine Dining Tasting Menu Ice Cream Emoji Food Courses Progressive Indian Cuisine
Soft Ice Cream Emoji: Uni Ice Cream

Chu Toro: Great toro. Male DINK thought it tasted a bit salty, but it was overall great. The puff at the bottom (the “rice”) melted in your mouth. Are we in Japan?

Chu Toro Fourteenth Course Tuna Nigiri Gaggan Restaurant Bangkok Thailand Asia's 50 Best World's 50 Best Fine Dining Tasting Menu Sushi Emoji Food Courses Progressive Indian Cuisine
Sushi Emoji: Chu Toro

Akami Tartar: This tasted like a tiny ceviche taco. Are we in Mexico? The tuna was tasty. Great melding of flavors, and a little spice. Excellent.

Akami Tartar Fifteenth Course Tuna Ceviche Tostada Gaggan Restaurant Bangkok Thailand Asia's 50 Best World's 50 Best Fine Dining Tasting Menu Taco Emoji Food Courses Progressive Indian Cuisine
Taco Emoji: Akami Tartar

Tomato Matcha: The last of the “quick” courses was served table side. A chef explained the tomato matcha while placing a small portion in the cup, pouring in the tomato and beetroot tea, and stirring it. This tasted like a delicious, light tomato juice, without the acidity. Great calming intermezzo.

Tomato Matcha Sixteenth Course Beetroot Gaggan Restaurant Bangkok Thailand Asia's 50 Best World's 50 Best Fine Dining Tasting Menu Green Tea Emoji Food Courses Progressive Indian Cuisine
Matcha Emoji: Tomato Matcha

Pork Vindaloo Cutlet: The first of the “main” courses was served in a breaded shell, with the pork inside. The pork itself had a deep flavor profile, as if it had been cooking for days. No idea what the odd crisp on the top was.

Pork Vindaloo Cutlet Seventeenth Course Breaded Gaggan Restaurant Bangkok Thailand Asia's 50 Best World's 50 Best Fine Dining Tasting Menu Ham Bone Emoji Food Courses Progressive Indian Cuisine
Ham Bone Emoji: Pork Vindaloo Cutlet

Scallop Curry Cold: Thinly-sliced scallops were served with fried shallots and red chili oil. The dollop in the middle tasted like a sweet yogurt, but was fairly firm. The shallots were a nice touch, and the dish worked well.

Scallop Curry Cold Eighteenth Course Fried Shallots Gaggan Restaurant Bangkok Thailand Asia's 50 Best World's 50 Best Fine Dining Tasting Menu Paella Emoji Food Courses Progressive Indian Cuisine
Paella Emoji: Scallop Curry Cold

Quail Chettinad: The quail was presented under a wooden “cage” – a fun but kind of silly distraction. The quail itself was tender and well-seasoned. Again, a bit of spice. Only complaint is that the quail was served too hot to enjoy immediately.

Quail Chettinad Nineteenth Course Gaggan Restaurant Bangkok Thailand Asia's 50 Best World's 50 Best Fine Dining Tasting Menu Chick Emoji Food Courses Progressive Indian Cuisine
Chick Emoji: Quail Chettinad

Cedar Wood Paturi: The sea bass was wrapped inside charred cedar wood, which was still smoldering when it was served (intentionally – the waiter put it out). The fish seemed to be well-cooked; however, the paste of mustard and green masala greatly overpowered the fish. Male DINK did not enjoy this course.

Cedar Wood Paturi Sea Bass Mustard Green Masala Gaggan Restaurant Bangkok Thailand Asia's 50 Best World's 50 Best Fine Dining Tasting Menu Fish Emoji Food Courses Progressive Indian Cuisine
Fish Emoji: Cedar Wood Paturi

Lamb Kebab Hot Dog: Fun presentation that was a bit difficult to eat. The “hot dog” (lamb) had a great flavor.

Lamb Kebab Hot Dog Twenty-First Course Gaggan Restaurant Bangkok Thailand Asia's 50 Best World's 50 Best Fine Dining Tasting Menu Hot Dog Emoji Food Courses Progressive Indian Cuisine
Hot Dog Emoji: Lamb Kebab Hot Dog

Crab Curry Chawanmushi: The crab was very well-prepared. Maybe we missed it during the explanation, but we learned as we progressed through the course that you needed to mix it up. For being toward the end of the meal, we thought the portion size was too large (and it was much larger than any other course).

Crab Curry Chawanmushi Twenty-Second Gaggan Restaurant Bangkok Thailand Asia's 50 Best World's 50 Best Fine Dining Tasting Menu Crab Emoji Food Courses Progressive Indian Cuisine
Crab Emoji: Crab Curry Chawanmushi

Beetroot Blue Cheese: Delicious – apparently frozen cheese tastes better. The frozen cheese was grated onto the dish table side, and slowly stuck to the beetroot crostini. The sweet and salty of this course was great.

Beetroot Blue Cheese Twenty-Third Course Dessert Frozen Cheese Gaggan Restaurant Bangkok Thailand Asia's 50 Best World's 50 Best Fine Dining Tasting Menu Cheese Emoji Food Courses Progressive Indian Cuisine
Cheese Emoji: Beetroot Blue Cheese

Basil Chocolate Butterfly: Great presentation, but not our favorite course. Neither of us remember the course or ingredients having much flavor or tasting like anything.

Basil Chocolate Butterfly Twenty-Fourth Course Dessert Gaggan Restaurant Bangkok Thailand Asia's 50 Best World's 50 Best Fine Dining Tasting Menu Butterfly Emoji Food Courses Progressive Indian Cuisine
Butterfly Emoji: Basil Chocolate Butterfly

Strawberry Ghewar: This tasted just like strawberry shortcake. The course was fairly light and not too sweet.

Strawberry Ghewar Twenty-Fifth Course Dessert Strawberry Shortcake Gaggan Restaurant Bangkok Thailand Asia's 50 Best World's 50 Best Fine Dining Tasting Menu Strawberry Emoji Food Courses Progressive Indian Cuisine
Strawberry Emoji: Strawberry Ghewar

Overall, we enjoyed the meal very much. Every course (with the exception of the Basil Chocolate Butterfly) had a lot of flavor and showcased Gaggan’s creativity and ability to combine ingredients. Some of the courses did not seem Indian, but that may be due to our lack of knowledge of such cuisine. Generally, the service and pace was good; however, one small demerit would be the lack of a full and articulate explanation of each course. Nevertheless, Gaggan ranks high on our list of restaurants, and if you find yourself in Bangkok, we strongly suggest you go. Compared to restaurants of similar acclaim, Gaggan provides great value for money.

Gaggan Restaurant Bangkok Thailand Asia's 50 Best World's 50 Best Fine Dining Tasting Menu Emoji Food Courses Progressive Indian Cuisine
Emoji menu with descriptions provided at end of meal

Additionally, if you watch Gaggan’s episode of Chef’s Table on Netflix (which we recommend you do), you’ll have a great appreciation of his long and difficult journey to be where he is today. Three consecutive years as number one on Asia’s 50 Best Restaurants list is no small feat.

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