Gaggan Anand (pictured) with Rydo Anton
Melaine Ong Ming Wei
Chief reason to visit: After a decade wowing diners from Bangkok and beyond with its playful, boundary-pushing cuisine, Gaggan is set to close for good in 2020, so now is the time to visit. Chef Gaggan Anand will no doubt make the final year at his flagship restaurant a memorable one, with a ramped up version of his extensive menu balancing Indian street food with hyper-modern cooking.
A word on the chef: Kolkata-born Anand is something of a superstar in the food world, as much for his effervescent personality as his ground-breaking cuisine. After a life-changing stint in the kitchen at El Bulli, he opened his eponymous Bangkok restaurant in 2010, where he has reimagined the notion of ‘progressive Indian cuisine’. He has since opened burger and beer restaurant Meatlicious, natural wine bar Wet and tofu restaurant Mihara Tofuten.
On the tasting: The 25-course menu, written entirely in emojis, starts off with a series of rapid-fire snacks including the spherified Yoghurt Explosion, and proceeds through a long sequence of courses including Indian sushi, charcoal prawn Amritsari and uni ice cream in a miniature cone. At the end of the meal, guests are presented with a version of a menu that contains the names of the dishes.
Pick a highlight: Anand’s latest signature ‘Lick it up’ is served in time with the eponymous song by legendary rock band Kiss. Made with green peas, fenugreek, mushroom and tomato, the dish is designed to be licked directly from the plate – the flavours are layered to touch the tongue exactly where the different taste receptors are placed.
What’s the vibe? The restaurant is set in an elegant whitewashed and recently renovated colonial house, tucked away from the mayhem of the city’s busy streets, with a number of different dining spaces. Service is relaxed – despite the occasional theatrics created by the use of liquid nitrogen – and the cocktail list is strong. Try to bag the table adjacent to a giant window into the kitchen to watch the multi-national brigade show off their alchemy, or sit upstairs at the chef's table within Gaggan’s R&D lab.
What’s next? After closing Gaggan in 2020, Anand plans to move to Fukuoka, Japan, to open a 10-seat restaurant with fellow chef Takeshi Fukuyama of La Maison de la Nature Goh. He also plans to publish a book to commemorate the end of Gaggan.
NB: Gaggan closed on August 24, 2019. The restaurant was eligible to be part of Asia’s 50 Best Restaurants list at the time of voting as such plans were only made public after the list was published, therefore Gaggan will remain a part of the list until 2020.