Lo & Behold! Gaggan, Asia’s best restaurant now proudly stands at number 5 on the World’s 50 best list. When the hype was just beginning to grow, I reserved a table at Gaggan on my bachelorette back in 2016. I reserved a table 45 days in advance. They never sent a confirmation. After hounding them for another week, I finally got an email confirmation. Our original destination was Bali while Bangkok was the layover. I specially extended our trip by a day in Bangkok so as to try Gaggan. It was supposed to be the highlight of a week-long extravaganza with my 3 best friends.
A dark street opens out to a White House-like structure that gives off an English Summer vibe. If Bohemian-Colonial was a style, this would be it. Eclectic is a word that’s at the top of my head when I enter this establishment. A staff comprising of 23 different nationalities with an Indian at the helm. One of the most sought-after restaurants in this world, Gaggan is run by Chef Gaggan Anand, who today is counted amongst the likes of Massimo Bottura, Daniel Humm & The Roca Brothers. Gaggan has a rockstar-like persona. He as is a mark of any good restaurant, personally takes care of the floor and makes sure every table is having a good experience. His personality, his rag to riches story, his passion for taking Indian Cuisine out of the ambit of humble Indian home cooking & the generic curry everyone associates it with is commendable. Using every trick of the trade he learnt from his time at El Bulli, Gaggan introduced elements of molecular gastronomy to Indian cuisine in a never-seen-before avatar & achieved global acclaim.
I will not lie, my expectations from this experience were sky high. Till date, Gaggan is one of the most extensive meals of my life standing tall at 25 courses. My expectations soared further when we were handed a neat rectangle of butter paper with 25 EMOJIS on it. Clues to what will be served that night, these emojis ranged from Lips to a Taco, Lemon, Snowflake & ended at the Indian flag. Our server was polite, humorous & added to the experience that was supposed to be Gaggan.
Gaggan in a way transcends gastronomy as an experience. It’s laid out to be a sensory experience that makes you wonder, lets your curiosity take over and is supposed to leave you gaping in awe at the sensuality of it. Gaggan goes deeper than the food, it’s about the person behind it, his journey, his ideas and how he translates his personality onto 25 plates, each bringing out a different facet of this person. It’s a celebration of one human being, what he’s been through and what he stands for. Passion, patriotism, music, senses….
The one thing that let me down in Gaggan was, unfortunately, the food. Yes, you read that right. Somewhere the food felt lacklustre. After having done the 19-course degustation at our neighbourhood Masala Library, the varied tasting menus at Indian Accent so on and so forth. I felt Gaggan stands for a great cause but is not true to the flavours it’s trying to represent. A lot of the courses did excite me. We started the meal as babbling teenagers, enthusiastic to the core. We ended the meal feeling lethargic with polite smiles. We were served Gaggan classics like the Yoghurt explosion, Rangoli Lambchops, went up to Corn served in every variety possible, Spherified Jelly Lips, Goat’s brain pâte, dehydrated Masala Chai on sugar, edible plastic bags, a humble Crab curry that came in a dabba, Curry leaf ice cream, Cronuts etc.