Saturday, July 30, 2016

Gaggan :: Bangkok

Small bites to eat with hands, and a forest scape of 'Magic Mushroom'.

Was wondering for the longest time whether to head out for one fancy non-Thai meal downtown. I'm reluctant to eat anything non-Thai when simply visiting for a short time. However, it got us at 'progressive Indian cuisine'. Caved and sat down for a long dinner at much-hyped Gaggan.

The restaurant is on Soi Langsuan. It is a monumental pain getting there though, unless you take the 9pm seating when traffic eases up. The most convenient way to get there is via BTS Chidlom station. Get off, walk through and out of Mercury Ville mall and 10 minutes down to Hotel Muse, cross the road and walk another 10 minutes to turn right into the alley to restaurant. In the not-to-be-underestimated Bangkok dust, heat and fierce humidity, that means- no fancy clothes or heels.

Sited in a charming old house, diners are tucked away in little corners over two levels, and people could have conversations in some sort of privacy. This meal takes three hours. So you might not want to go to bed at midnight with a full stomach. We took the 6pm seating. The man chose the usual degustation menu of meats. I requested for a vegetarian menu.

The wine list didn't interest us, the gin did. It's Bangkok's locally distilled small-batch Iron Balls. There's a distinct scent of lemongrass, ginger and Indian cinnamon. The man asked for cucumbers and lime in one glass, and lime and lemongrass in his second. Took mine as plain ole gin and tonic with lime. A perfect foil to the food, methinks.

The kitchen must be staffed by a small army! They definitely have many chefs de partie. Food was served quickly at well-timed intervals. In a nutshell, we think that Gaggan does stunning small bites (using hands to eat them). Its mains are less impressive, although the layers of spices and flavors are just as flawlessly executed.

Meat and vegetarian menus are largely the same. In this iteration, in its dizzying array of small bites, the pork vindaloo is swopped out for banana flowers vindaloo; khakra eel sandwich and uni sundae became khakra garlic pumpkin and mango sweet potato sundae. LOVED the yoghurt explosion and edible plastic spiced nuts. Absolutely winning and they're too cute.

'Charcoal' in its mysterious form of a lump.

The presentation of the dishes was as expected of a restaurant of this reputation. Beautifully done. Although I rolled eyes at the 'smoke in the bell jar' (so clichéd!) when they presented their first dish after the small bites. They named it 'Charcoal', literally presented as a black lump. It was meant to be a surprise meat. Diners were supposed to guess the mystery ingredients.

Mine isn't meat and instead held potatoes and mashed peas with spices. Easy to guess. We were certain that the meat was a fish of sorts. Rolled my eyes even more when we said "fish" to our server and I repeated it in Thai, and he said "no, not fish", and three minutes later, he said it was seabass. -_- DOHHH. *put on the Singlish accent* SEABASS NOT FISH THEN WHAT?

The next dish 'Magic Mushroom' was great. Forest mushrooms beautifully plated within a 'log' resting on edible soil. Very hard for me to fault mushrooms.

'Red Matcha'.

The course named 'Red Matcha' was dramatic. Hahaha. Chefs de partie came out to perform a 'Japanese tea ceremony'. We were invited to eat the wagashi of tomatoes and fruits while they whisked up the 'tea'. Except the 'matcha' was red because it was hot tomato shorba which was really delicious. (Shorba is North Indian; rasam is South Indian.)

Our first set of mains was rather average. They came as tandoori lamb chops, and tandoori morels; both plates were decorated with an elaborate rangoli made of sweet potato. The man has had way better tandoori lamb chops. The second set of mains came in cute tiffin carriers. Loved the extra long basmati rice. The man didn't think much of his chicken kofta curry and minced lamb masala. I thoroughly enjoyed the vegetarian mains of paneer malai kofta curry and ghar ki dal. Both were were superb. I was totally stuffed at this point, but I found space to slurp up the carbs.

I was completely uninterested in the desserts. I was too full, and I mostly don't care about sugar. Heh. Poked at the plated dessert-scapes and left them alone. Frankly, they were rather mediocre. The man merrily took his share and more.

Imho, the vegetarian menu made more of an impression. The man was stealing big spoonfuls of my curries! We don't have an Indian restaurant in Singapore offering such an experience. (The Song of India and Rang Mahal don't count) Gaggan does it well. I liked it. What a lovely meal.

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