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Bangkok's Unconventional Fine Dining Restaurant


A Gaggan Anand-invested, tasting-menu-only restaurant in Bangkok is all about mixing local ingredients with recipes from around the world. By VERONICA INVEEN. Photographed by SUPACHAT VETCHAMALEENONT.

Published on Jun 26, 2017

 

BANGKOK FOODIES are in for a treat. Garima Arora, previously the chef de partie at Noma and sous chef of Gaggan, has opened a restaurant of her own. Sitting in stark contrast to the white, airy dwellings of its accolade-collecting sister restaurant and Arora's former stomping grounds, Gaa is set across the street in a spacious, hard-to-miss, yellowand-pink shop house that, at one point, had served as a brothel. Hailing from Mumbai, Arora originally made her way from Copenhagen to Bangkok to help Gaggan Anand open an Indian curry house. When plans fell through, Anand looked to Arora to fill the neighboring shophouse, and what she made of it might be even more impressive than Anand's Keralastyle curry.

Chef Garima Arora
Chef Garima Arora.

The space itself is an exercise in understated luxury, with floor-to-ceiling windows, dark wood tables and a deep-purple leather couch. The dining experience equals that subtle excellence in unfussy eight- or 12-course tasting menus made from wholesome organic ingredients.

Described as modern-eclectic, the menu taps into different cultures without falling into the category of fusion cuisine. So don't expect Thai-style sushi or Indian-inflected rigatoni, but rather a cherry-picking of techniques and dishes from across the globe, with each course staying true to its inspiration. The poached grouper fish wrapped khanom la, a lacey crepe dessert from southern Thailand, tastes totally Thai. While later in the meal, the butter and pav, a bun stuffed with minced lamb served with cloud-like house-made butter, is pure Bombay.

Dining room
Subtle luxury in the dining room.

"Our fermentation technique is Japanese, our approach is new-Nordic and we only use local ingredients from Thailand," Arora explains. "And of course, there is Indian influence as well." It may sound like quite the medley, but there is a surprising amount of cohesion, perhaps because every component of the menu is sourced locally and whipped-up in-house, even the soy sauce.

One of Aurora's most notable calling cards is her tireless search for fresh flavors. "We've been spending a lot of time up north in the tribal areas with indigenous people to discover new ingredients," Aurora says. On a recent trip to a jungle market near the border of Laos, she discovered the egg fruit, which she now uses in a dish topped with pomelo and crayfish. She's such a fan of the round orange fruit, with its custardy taste and cooked-yolk-like texture, that she's hired seven different people to haul back 40 kilos of it to her kitchen each week.

Colorfully garnished pork ribs
Colorfully garnished pork ribs.

Later June 2017 an upper level bar space will open up, where à la carte tapas dishes will be served for those not ready to commit to the tasting menu but still wanting to experience the restaurant. And you can pair the bites with house-made kombucha and fresh juices squeezed from fruits and vegetables sourced from across the country. "It is very important for my guests to know where they are," Arora says. "They are eating in the middle of Thailand. It has got to feel like they are eating in the middle of Thailand." Diners, who finish the meal with a turmeric-flavored soft serve ice cream loaded into a crunchy sesame cone, may decide there is nowhere else they'd rather be.

 


fb.com/gaabangkok; eight-course tasting menu from Bt1,800.

 

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Gaa Bangkok.
  • Gaa Bangkok.
  • Gaa Bangkok.
  • Gaa Bangkok.
  • Gaa Bangkok.
  • Gaa Bangkok.
  • Colorfully garnished pork ribs.
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