Chef Gaggan Anand put Indian food and Bangkok on the fine dining spotlight when he opened Gaggan in 2010, winning numerous accolades for his progressive Indian cuisine. But as early as 2016, the celebrated Indian-born chef (of Netflix’s Chef’s Table fame) made headlines when he announced plans to close his eponymous flagship restaurant by June 2020. He also shared his intentions to open a new restaurant with fellow chef Takeshi “Goh” Fukuyama in Fukuoka, Japan by 2021, promising to redefine the future of fine dining in the process.
This was an unexpected move coming from a two Michelin-starred restaurant that held the number one spot on Asia’s 50 Best Restaurants list for four consecutive years, before falling to number two in 2019. Gaggan also ranked number 4 on the World’s 50 Best Restaurants list this year. Anand’s announcement led to the restaurant getting fully booked till June 2020, its original closing month.
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Everything seemed to be going as planned until last June 30 when Anand confirmed via an interview published in Singapore’s The Straits Times that he had resigned from Gaggan. According to him, he had been having “major differences” with the other shareholders for a while now that led to his lawyers sending his resignation letter on June 24, one day before Anand attended the World’s 50 Best Restaurants awards ceremony in Singapore, where he won the number 4 spot.
Through his Instagram post on July 1, Anand confirmed his resignation, stating that he was still a business partner of the company, that the conditions of his resignation were still being reviewed by his partners, and that the decision would be out by the end of July. Unfortunately, Anand’s latest IG update this August 20 included a heart-tugging open letter to all his customers, confirming that August 24 would be the last day of operations at Gaggan. He writes, “Some of my customers feel very upset and I am highly apologetic for that. I wish I could do better to make my customers happy but being 25% share holder (sic) of the company, my minority vote could not do much. I feel deeply sorry for everyone.”
Sorry 😐 🙏 an apology 🙈🙉🙊 from me and my 64 rebels. But it’s high time for me to give u my side of situation... Please read all the 3 pages u will know why and how especially those who have received reservation cancellation emails so late #gaggan #sorry #hugmeismelllikecurry
Anand cited the difficult conditions he had been undergoing since the announcement of his resignation in July. He also confirmed that his kitchen team of “65 lives” had resigned and would be joining him at his yet-unnamed new restaurant that he hopes to open by this October.
While fans of his have been saddened by the news of Gaggan’s closing, people are waiting for Anand to get back on his feet. In the meantime, for those headed to Bangkok, you can still enjoy many fine dining meals in the city, most especially at these four world class restaurants which offer the same caliber of food and service as the former Gaggan.
My personal pick for the best non-Thai restaurant in Bangkok is one Michelin-starred Restaurant Gaa housed in a bright and perky converted yellow shophouse located just opposite Gaggan. This modern European-Asian restaurant is helmed by Noma-trained chef Garima Arora, who is also this year’s Asia’s 50 Best Female Chef awardee. Together with an international team of chefs, Arora transforms locally sourced ingredients with the use of modern and traditional cooking techniques to come out with dishes that are uniquely Gaa.
The restaurant has only one tasting menu offering both signature and seasonal dishes that diners can opt to pair with wines from different boutique producers around the world or choose to go alcohol free with light and refreshing fruit juices and/or kombucha. Reservations are definitely required as Gaa is always full.
Those interested in trying Garima Arora’s cooking without flying to Bangkok can catch her two-day guest chef stint for dinner at Discovery Primea’s Flame Restaurant this September 3 and 4, 2019 organized by Cross Cultures by Cheryl Tiu. The price of the dinner is P6,500++ inclusive of wine pairing for 10 courses. To reserve, contact Discovery Primea at (02) 955-8888 or email [email protected].
This modern Thai-inspired eatery puts emphasis on the use of seasonal produce. Le Du’s Chef Thitid “Ton” Tassanakajohn believes that it’s high time to showcase locally sourced premium quality ingredients that Thailand is richly blessed with. Chef Ton uses his experience working at some of the top restaurants in the United States like New York’s Eleven Madison Park and Jean Georges. By adding modern twists to classic Thai dishes, he brings them to a higher level through his rotating seasonal menu meant to be enjoyed in a relaxed, casual setting. The restaurant also boast a well-curated wine list thanks to Chef Ton’s sommelier training.
R-Haan is where celebrity chef Chumpol Jangprai (of IronChef Thailand) celebrates his Thai heritage by serving true and authentic Royal Thai dishes to the public. He researched old recipes, including forgotten ones, to come out with a series of seasonal, multi-course samrub (traditional Thai shared eating style) set menus given the fine dining approach. This makes R-Haan a good venue to take visitors or first-timers to experience more traditional Thai cuisine in an upscale setting.
Sorn is currently the hardest-to-book restaurant in Bangkok (now already fully booked until October 2019). It is Khun Ice Jongsiri’s temple of fine Southern Thai food, and definitely not for those who cannot handle spicy food. Sorn is the perfect place to explore Southern Thailand on a plate via 22 dishes made using premium quality ingredients sourced from the south and cooked the traditional way.
Southern Rice Salad
Photos by Cyrene de la Rosa
Gaa food photos courtesy of Restaurant Gaa
Le Du photos by Exgave
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