About the chef: Inspired by her father’s home cooking as a child, Mumbai-born Garima Arora recognised her calling as a chef at a young age. Most notably, she spent two years in Copenhagen cooking at one of the world’s most respected restaurants, Noma. Prior to opening Gaa, she was ensconced at Gaggan Anand’s now closed Bangkok restaurant, which held the No.1 position in Asia’s 50 Best Restaurants for four consecutive years. Gaa’s debut on the list in 2019 was a double success for Arora, who was voted as winner of the Asia’s Best Female Chef Award, while her restaurant also received the Highest New Entry Award.
On the menu: Melding flavours from India and Thailand, Arora builds progressive dishes with ingredients dictated by the seasons. Guests sign up for a 10- or 14-course tasting menu, which can be accompanied by natural wines, fermentation-rich cocktails, or a whole juice pairing. Arora describes her culinary style as “modern eclectic cuisine”.
Fermentation focus: Considering the two years Arora spent at Copenhagen’s fermentation-focused fine dining haunt Noma, it’s no surprise to hear that the chef built a fermentation room of her own at Gaa. There, she experiments with preserving various indigenous Thai ingredients, yielding everything from fish sauce to lychee sake to split pea miso.
Friends with benefits: Anand helped Gaa become a reality. The chef met Arora via a mutual friend and hired her to head up an Indian restaurant he had planned to launch in Mumbai. That project fell through and, instead, in the spring of 2017, Arora landed her own concept: Gaa.
Bonus fact: In November 2018, Arora became the first Indian female chef to earn a Michelin star.