Everyone has their dirty pleasures, and this couple has just paid 600 dollars to enjoy a very particular one. A 25-course meal at Gaggan restaurant in Bangkok that’s described as “a journey through modern Indian cuisine in 25 emojis.” I assume that most of us won’t be tasting it soon, so let’s at least have a look at what the number 7 restaurant in the world has to offer, shall we?
According to The World’s 50 Best Restaurants, “Chef Gaggan Anand has consistently transformed his tasting menu, developing conversation-starting dishes like the spherified Yoghurt Explosion and creating a dining experience that reflects the warmth of Thai hospitality in Bangkok.” The innovative establishment has been named No.1 in Asia’s 50 Best Restaurants for three consecutive years!
Scroll down to check out what the couple had, and hurry up if you want to visit the place yourself! Anand plans to close Gaggan in 2020 to open a small restaurant in Fukuoka, Japan, with fellow cook and friend Takeshi ‘Goh’ Fukuyama.
“My wife and I first went to this restaurant on our honeymoon in 2013. It wasn’t very well known then, the concierge at our hotel couldn’t even give us directions (and he was sporting a clef d’ors badge!)
Back then, they had 2 set menus and an a la carte option. We went the first time and had a set menu for about $70 for two and enjoyed it so much we went back a couple of nights later for the à la carte.
For our fourth anniversary, we made the trip back to Bangkok and before we had even booked flights, I had booked us in at this restaurant we had raved about ever since our honeymoon.
When we arrived, the maître d’ told us that we were invited to the chef’s table and did we accept (of course!)
The restaurant has changed a bit in the last four years, renovations etc. and the chef’s table was in the extension to the main restaurant and upstairs. We went upstairs with the 10 other guests and these were the menus placed before us — oh boy!”
“I’ve included another photo which is a bit clearer. The pen marks are where the new wine was to be poured — we couldn’t NOT have the matching wine — and what a fantastic decision that was too. So here it is: 25 (twenty five) courses!”
“Some prep work going on while we waited.”
“Here we have the first course: paan.
Paan is a traditional Indian street food made with betel leaf, a variety of fruits, spices, seeds, and occasionally tobacco.
This paan had a small betel leaf prepared in a light tempura batter and some chilli dabbed on top — a far cry from the paan I had first tasted at about 1am on the streets of Delhi!”
“Ah yes, as Chef Gaggan called it, “the dish that made him famous”.
In 2013, this dish was on his menu, and he says it will be on his last ever menu too.
Simple, although probably not. It is yoghurt (think raita) but spherified. The spherification (and reverse spherification) process is about the combination of a preparation including sodium alginate, and a preparation high in calcium. The sodium alginate and calcium solution react to form a thin skin around your solution and as you put it in your mouth, the yoghurt explodes and you drink it.”
“Here he is, the man himself, Chef Gaggan Anand.
All around nice guy, and just super passionate about making good food using different techniques.
We first met him when we just finished eating at his restaurant the second time and it was raining, so we were waiting out front for a taxi; there was this chef there and he asked us how we enjoyed our meal (it was amazing!) and then we started to discuss politics as the riots had just started. He wished us a good night as we hopped in the taxi and we saw him walk across the road and unlock a BMW — ah, might have been Gaggan that we just spoke to!
Rumour has it that he was a big drive for the Michelin Guide to finally come to Bangkok last year. In a city full of stand out restaurants, he’s been a consistently strong performer and really helped put it on the culinary map, so I can believe those rumours. How many Michelin stars did he get first time around? Just a casual two!”
“So the next course was prawn heads with goo…only kidding!
You know tom yum soup? This is freeze dried prawn head with a concoction in an edible film wrapper which tasted like the most amazing tom yum soup!”
“Three courses down and I’m starving! Oh good, little biscuits then!
These are eggplant wafers. I cannot even begin to describe how painful the process of making these sounds, but I’ll give it a go:
1) roast the eggplants until they’re burned on the outside and cooked inside
2) blast freeze to -40*C
3) freeze dry to remove all moisture (about 4 days)
4) pound into powder, mix with spices and oil to make a dough and cut with cookie cutter
5) put onion chutney in the inside like an oreo
Congratulate the 8-9 chefs who worked on it for 5-6 days before serving to your guests to devour in one bite!”
“Shake your bon bon! Chilli bon bons!
As with everything so far, not too spicy, a very delicate balance of flavours and textures — a beautifully firm but delicate shell with a creamy, slightly spicy inside.”
“This one got me a little. One of my favourite on the menu for sure.
A heartier serve than other portions prior, a meaty dish that really had some great flavours going on.
Apparently it was goat. Brains. What? I’ve eaten brains before and there’s quite a soft texture to them, I remember it being almost creamy which I didn’t think this dish had. On reflection though, I suppose it wasn’t a really meaty texture, just a hint of meaty flavour and a smoothness to the bite after breaking the shell around it.”
“Anyone here au fait with subcontinental cuisine? Does idli sambar sound familiar?
Idli are a type of rice cake and sambar is a lentil-based dish cooked in a tamarind broth giving it a hint of sweetness.
In this instance, the idli were more like rice puffs, soft and very light, while the sambar was a foam which brought the subtle sweetness of the tamarind through with the more noticeable savouriness of the lentil soup.”
“What a dude.
Forget the formality of chef’s whites, Gaggan is a rock star and would prefer to make great food and give guests a good time than try to “look the part”.
Let the food do the talking.”
“Did you notice the jug and bowl in the previous picture? That’s right — liquid nitrogen!
These bad boys are chicken liver and coconut. If I’m being honest, I’ve kinda forgotten the flavours of this dish so I’m terribly sorry.”
“Burgers? Yes please!
I remember one of the sommeliers asking me what my favourite dish was and I didn’t want to say this dish because everyone else had said it, but it was a fantastic little burger. It was probably the surprise factor to an extent — just unassuming and then bam! Really terrific flavours and yet so simple.”
“Fish tacos. Hands down my favourite variety of taco — a nice soft tortilla with perhaps a fresh mango salsa and some beautiful, fresh fish et voilà!
Despite my least favourite taco shell (being a hard one), this was a chance to showcase the quality seafood that you can get in Bangkok. It was a joy to eat.”
How about yuzu marshmallow and foie gras?
This marshmallow was really well made (like, REALLY!) it was a little chewy, but only insofar as to offer the slightest resistance as you bit through it and took a small pillow of citrus with your foie gras and wafer. Incredible.”
“At this point, Gaggan walked around asking everyone the same thing: is this cheesecake, or is this fish?
Who has two thumbs, speaks limited French and only said cheesecake because everyone else said fish? This moi.
It was fish. Of course it was fish. It was OBVIOUS it was fish. I just thought that maybe, MAYBE, the obvious answer wasn’t the right answer. What a dweeb.
Well, it was a cheesecake texture, and an interesting take on the fish cake!”
“Uni = sea urchin.
Honestly, not my favourite. People love it, and that’s cool. I’m just not one of them and that’s okay too.
Those little balls on top? Oh hey, welcome back spherification! Those are gin and tonic balls.
Aside from the fact that uni isn’t something I enjoy, I got this dish. It was serving some crisp flavours with the gin and tonic balls (and a bit of sorbet below the uni) to cut through the seafood-y flavour of the sea urchin all served in an easy-to-hold seaweed wrapper.”
“Fresh (I mean prepared right in front of us) medium fatty tuna sushi.
I can’t tell you how good this was — you just have that feeling when you take a bit of something and know that everything is right in this world.”
“14 dishes down. Now for a matcha tea ceremony. I had a video but couldn’t upload it — it’s no problem.
Everyone knows matcha tea, it’s made with…matcha? Well, this was a cold preparation made with asparagus, celery, and some other vegetables and herbs WHICH PERFECTLY REPLICATED THE TASTE OF MATCHA!! This is witchcraft. I honestly couldn’t tell you how surprised I was that he told us we basically just had vegetable soup.”
“You like pork? You like curry with a kick? How about a mouthful-sized serving of pork vindaloo served in a coating of panko breadcrumbs? Yum.”
“Guess who’s wife doesn’t eat scallops so they got to eat the whole dang thing? THIS GUY!
An uncooked curry: yes it was served temperate, yes those scallops were to die for, and yes, that is a quenelle of coconut ice cream which combined with a slightly spicy green chutney to just remind you that this was a curry you were eating.”
“Oh, actually, it’s quail! I might have tried to convince my wife to let me have her portion of this one too…
Chettinad is a typically spicy curry from southern India, in this instance, that fire was reduced to a marinade before cooking, and then a small dollop of just-spicy-enough goodness beneath the quail breasts.”
“Cooking, it is said, allowed humans’ brains to develop to a higher level than other animals. Gaggan gave a very impassioned talk about cooking food and the impact of cooked food on human development; the thing is that I heard a similar speech earlier in 2017 at the best restaurants in the world presentation when Heston Blumenthal was presented with a lifetime achievement award. His speech was so arduous that I thought he might have been under the influence and my opinion of him certainly dropped several rungs that night.
Anyway, it was a nice talk that Gaggan gave, and certainly an “oooo” moment as he grabbed his crème brûlée torch and lit these bad boys up.”
“So this is Paturi. Paturi is one of those universal dishes which seems to have been simultaneously invented by every civilisation around the world.
Simply, it is cooking something in a banana leaf. This particular specimen was cooked sandwiched between cedar wood, with some rice and fish wrapped in the banana leaf.”
Unfortunately I failed to hear the exact method behind this dish. Essentially, it was this very crisp exterior which mimicked charcoal in texture, with some of this in powdered form on top. What was inside was this creamy asparagus, although not overwhelmingly asparagus flavoured. A really, really interesting dish from a texture perspective.”
“Actually, forget what I said before about my favourite dish. THIS was my favourite dish.
Lobster in a delicately spiced sauce, on top of a dosa (an Indian pancake of sorts). You know how I said I like fish tacos except in the soft tortilla? Yeah, swap the fish and mango salsa for lobster in a curry-style sauce and that’s more like it. I tried stealing the wife’s portion again but almost got my hand bitten off.”
“We got served this box next, wonder what’s inside?”
Roses. Hand-made. Out of…beetroot? Well, I couldn’t tell it was beetroot. A shame to destroy someone’s handiwork, but heck, I already ate the eggplant cookie so I didn’t feel that bad.”
“Wait, so curry mango and chocolate?
Not the most outrageous thing I’ve eaten tonight, I’ll try it…of course it’s amazing. It’s exactly what you think will happen when a team of passionate, top-notch chefs put their mind to creating a fusion of something we think of as earthy and spicy, with the sweetness of mango and then have the chocolate sandwich it together.”
“Twist on the Black Forest cake anyone? I forget how the cherries were prepared, but they had that nice tang to them that cherries sometimes get, while the powder melted in your saliva to give a wonderful creamy texture to a classic dessert.”
“Oh hey! Another box!”
“Oh boy! More mango! For someone who loves mangoes, this was a treat.
Ghewar, or ghevar, is a sweet biscuity-cake snack from northern India. In this case, combine this ghewar, which isn’t overly sweet, with a slice of mango to give it a little sweetness kick, results in a divine dessert to close off this epic culinary journey.”
“Overall, it was about a five out of seven (maybe even a 13/10). Would definitely eat there a fourth time to see what Gaggan and his team have devised next.”